Kathy Chatty had arrived for her appointment for her little Boston Terrier named Princess who had a worrisome lump she wanted examined. After checking in and getting Princess weighed she was directed to the exam room. I was ready to go, so as soon as the receptionist walked out of the room I walked in.
Mrs. Chatty had just finished dialing up her husband on her cell phone in order to remind him to pick up some milk at the store on the way home, so instead of greeting her and starting the exam I had to stand and wait for her husband to pick up the phone and then get the explanation that she was at the veterinarians office and the doctor had just walked in so she couldn’t talk long--but could he pick up some milk on his way home from work? No, not the half gallon, she needed a full gallon. And get 1% this time, that skim just didn’t taste as good.
At least Princess was glad to see me, and while I waited for her owner I picked her up and tried to guess where her lump was. She had quite the crop of bumps and it wasn’t obvious which one was the problem.
Mrs. Chatty clicked off the phone, smiled apologetically, and we began the exam. “I hear Princess has a lump you are concerned about”, I said.
“ Yes it has been getting bigger recently and --” At that moment her phone rang again. This time it was her son who was very concerned about the dog and wanted to know what we had found. After all, the appointment was as 2:00 and it was already 2:04. I stood and waited while Mrs. Chatty explained to her son that we were in the exam room right now but didn’t have the answer yet, and by the way did he remember to study for that math test coming up on Friday?
Mrs. Chatty clicked off the phone, smiled apologetically, and continued. “I’m so sorry about that. The lump is right next to…” her phone rang again, she scooped it up to see who was calling, and said “I’m sorry, this is an important call that I have to take, but it will just be a second.”
I put Princess on the floor and left the exam room to go fish my own cell phone out of the office, where I keep it so that it will never interrupt me during my time with a client. I looked up Mrs. Chatty’s number and dialed it. When she answered I said “This is your veterinarian, and I was wondering if it might be OK if we spent a little of your exam time talking about what is going on with your pet?” We conducted the rest of the interview with me on my cell phone and she on hers while standing in the same exam room looking at her dog. The lump was indeed a problem and needed to be removed, and because there was an opening we scheduled Princess for surgery that afternoon.
When it came time to call Mrs. Chatty to let her know that the lump was off and Princess was recovering well and would be ready to go home at 5:00 she was surprisingly not there to answer the phone. No problem, I left all that information in a message and figured she would get it shortly. She did notice the message shortly, but rather than listen to it she called the front desk and announced to the receptionist “Somebody there just called me.” Although that was indeed true, it was not the receptionist who picked up the phone who had made the call, so after figuring out who she was talking to, the receptionist dutifully went from person to person in the hospital to identify who had just called Mrs. Chatty. After discovering the culprit was me, the receptionist didn’t even have to wait for me to say “And I left her a detailed message explaining everything.” She has been through this process enough she could just sigh and say it for me.