Ok, folks, it's that time again. If you feel it necessary, buckle up, because people aren't getting any saner, and I am not tired of writing about them yet. In fact, I sit vigilant with a keyboard and a sturdy internet connection, and cultivate my talent for snark until it can no longer be contained.
Wherever there is unnecessary rudeness, I am there to write rude things about it. Wherever the petty and deceptive emerge from their dank holes to torment the world, I am there with the sharp stick of language to poke them back again. Wherever there is a client having a conniption, I am there to stare politely at them while composing scathing monologues in my head.
I may not be part of the solution, but I have a damn good time being the peanut gallery.
Somebody should make up a superhero based on me. Or at least a side-kick.
Anywho, if you didn't guess it from the title, the actual purpose of this post is to rant some more about clients. It has been a sad/hilarious/infuriating/exhausting/fulfilling time since I last posted in this vein, and writing about it releases some of the tension so that I don't accidentally murder someone in a Hulk-esque, fiery-eyed rage while giggling helplessly.
Yes, I know I have issues. Don't piss me off or I'll write about yours. I'm sure that will affect you somehow.
Oh, wait, for those of you who read Volume 1 of this series (can it be a series with only two entries?), turns out the fellow who tried to get me in so much trouble for my alleged profanity is a proven hustler. He came in once with a girlfriend in tow, and tried to cause another ruckus. She actually came back a while later to try and get his information from us. Apparently, he'd gotten several thousand dollars out of her before pulling a disappearing act. Oh, and she's a cancer patient. I feel as if I might have gotten off easy with this guy.
However, my gratefulness for that doesn't mean I wouldn't nut-punch him given half a chance. Just sayin'.
Creepy Grandma Jedi
For years and years now, my clinic has played host to a tiny, pinch-faced woman who, due to her obvious European background, I shall nickname Helga. She’s never been exactly pleasant, but I’d never come up against the brick wall of her belligerence until a day when she came in after the doctor had gone home. I was sitting at the front counter, idling checking out the next day’s schedule, when she creaked in through our front door with a yen for information. Apparently, her precious dog had had blood work done in the days previous, and she was ready for some results from the endeavor.
Now, I don’t mind people worrying about their pets. If they didn’t worry, I’D be worried for their animals. So I didn’t hesitate to try and find the woman’s results, scurrying off to the doctor’s office to see if they’d come in yet. They hadn’t, as is often the case when concerned owners request them too soon.
Coming back with my best don’t-shoot-the-messenger smile, I said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but it doesn’t look like they’ve come in yet. Hopefully they’ll be in in the next couple of days, and I’ll leave a note on your file to have us call you as soon as that happens.”
She looked me in the eyes, never blinking, never shifting, and seconds ticked by in uncomfortable silence.
“The blood was taken several days ago.”
“I know, ma’am, and I’d love to give you some results, but they haven’t come in yet. Besides, I don’t actually know how to decipher them, and Dr. Jarrett is gone for the day, so you’d have to wait until tomorrow anyway to receive any new information.”
Again looking me straight in the eyes, she took an aggressive step towards the counter. I’m not terribly ashamed to say that I considered taking a step back. If he hadn’t been wearing that mask, I’m fairly certain Darth Vader would have given me the same look as he choked me with his mind. And this was my response:
I call this one Deer-In-Headlights. My facial expressions have layers, people. Layers.
“It has been several days,” she said, in a monotone that was no less threatening than outright shouting. “Why are they not here?”
“Well,” I began, doing my best to stay cool and professional, “sometimes the lab that we send the blood to takes longer than, you know, than expected to get stuff back to us. We really can’t do anything about that.”
Despite her 4 foot-something height, she somehow managed to loom over me as she leaned even closer.
“I want those results. I paid for them.”
This tiny cobra wasn’t getting the message, and yet I felt mesmerized by her implacable gaze. I wasn’t even sure she had eyelids by that point. I’m pretty sure that if there had been a lab tech there, I would have beaten the information out of him, just like the good little Storm Trooper that I was.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, trying not to stammer. I tend to do that when I’m completely unnerved. “There’s really nothing I can do.”
“You could call Dr. Jarrett.”
“Th-there’s nothing she could do, either. The lab is the place with the information.” Maybe if I threw them under the bus, she would go and terrorize someone else. Fresh blood in the water.
“Hmph,” she said. It wasn’t a petulant hmph, like you’d expect to hear from some snotty debutante. It was a hmph of condemnation. A hmph of judgement. A hmph that would have gotten my ass sent to the gallows, if the context had been correct.
Then, with deliberate and weighty steps, she turned, releasing my eyeballs, and started for the door.
“I will call tomorrow,” she said. I could only pray that I would not answer the phone.
A few months later, she had to return to the clinic to have her poor, decrepit dog put down. After the euthanization was complete, we left her in the room with her dog, as she wanted to say one final good-bye. Since we were waiting to use that room to perform the surgeries of the day, we would peek back in periodically to see if she’d finally left yet. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not callous. We’re freakin’ bleeding hearts. But the dog was dead, and she stood there for approximately 45 minutes, picking live fleas off of her dead dog and throwing them in the trash, from whence they could crawl and infest the rest of the building.
Why did she have such implacable confidence in her right to anything she desired at the moment? Where did she acquire such powers to hold me in thrall in the face of her will? Was she old enough to have lived through something that would imbue such frightening obstinance in such a tiny woman?
Why didn’t she get the fleas off her dog while it was alive?
I’d like to start off this section by stating, for the record, that I don’t make it a habit to mock people who don’t have possession off all their marbles. Honestly, I’m not even mocking this next client; I just want to record her for posterity.
Though this client, “Sue,” has been coming to Jarrett’s for quite some time, it was only recently that many of us could grasp the extent of her quirks.
“It’s true!” claimed Jenny, the only one who really got it. “She has a, well, I’m not even sure what to call it. Have you seriously never heard it?”
“Umm…no,” we’d reply. “Are you sure you heard it?”
“Well, I didn’t, for awhile, but then one day POOF! I heard it, and now I can’t stop hearing it. Listen. Listen really hard when she comes in. It’s there.”
One day, Sue came in with her new cat. It was my first experience one-on-one with her, and for about the first 30 seconds of our conversation, I couldn’t make out a word the woman said.
“YeahI’mherewithmynewcat,” she bellowed. “He’srealbadandyoujustgottatrimhisnailscausehewon’tmindme. *Breath*Ismackhisbuttandhejustignoresmecausehe’sgotsuchabig
I just sat there for a couple of moments. I’m pretty sure she gave me a brain cramp. A real one.
“Umm, wh-what was it you need?”
“Shots! Dammit,he’shereforhisshots,Sissy! Imadeanappointment, andnowhe’shere!”
“Shots! Oh, okay. Let me see…are you…Sue?”
“Shit,Sissy,yes! Don’tyouseeme? CauseITELLyouImadeanappointmentandnowwe’rehereand—“
“YES, yes, I see you there. Let me just get you into the room.” I didn’t know how Jenny had ever heard anything odd in the woman’s speech. I didn’t know how she’d managed to understand anything at all.
But as we examined her cat, and she babbled loudly in what might have been a friendly tone behind us, I began to tune out the actual content of the sentences and just focus on the end. She had a natural cadence that, if studied carefully, displayed what might pass for regularity, so that I could at least tell where a period should go. And then, between one sentence and the next, I heard it. It was like I was standing near a TARDIS, and suddenly I could understand any language I heard, no matter how alien it had originally seemed.
In the middle of all the Sissy’s and obscenities, I could make out one word she regularly repeated: name. At the end of random sentences, despite the content, she would mumble “Name!” right before diving into the next.
I don’t know if there’s a word for that. Jenny calls it a verbal tick, and it’s probably the best descriptive term. I don’t know if Sue knows that she does it, and I would never be so rude as to ask. However, I can never un-hear it. Once you’ve been inducted into this club, you are never getting out.
At any rate, the exam passed without any further incident, and we sent Sue on her way.
Several weeks later, I picked up the phone, put it to my ear, and immediately yanked it away again as Sue’s voice blared through the receiver.
“Hi, this is Jarrett’s Sm—“
“Sissy, Itellyouwhat, Ijustdon’tknowwhattodo. Hewon’tMINDme. Wegottagethisclawsoff NOWname!”
After I took a second to get myself back in Sue-mode, I realized that she wanted her cat declawed. Unfortunately, she called at 4 in the afternoon on a Friday, which is neither a time OR a day that we perform declaws.
“Oh, well, we can get you an appointment for, let’s see, Monday, and we’ll get him in here and get him declawed. How does that sound?”
“Dammit, Sissy, IneeditNOWname! Hewon’tmindme, andhehidesbehindtheT.V. AndthenhetearsupthecouchcauseheKNOWShecangetawaywithitand
At that point, I just decided that pure professionalism wasn’t the way to go. It just wouldn’t work with Sue.
“Well, Sue, we really can’t do that. It’s not a medical emergency, so you’re gonna have to wait until Monday. Why don’t you try leaving him in a bedroom for the weekend?”
“Then maybe get a big carrier and confine him in that.”
“WHAT? Sissy, IlovemycatandIwouldn’tdothattohim. That’smean!”
“Then put him in the bathroom, or cover up your bed or something.”
“Dammit, Ican’tdothateithername! He’dgetlonelyandhewouldn’thavenothin’todo!”
“Well, then you’re just going to have to figure something out. Do you want that appointment on Monday?”
“Yes, Sissy! IneedhimdeclawedIMMEDIATELYname!”
“Well, then you’ll need to drop him off between 7:30 and 9:00 in the morning, and you can pick him up—“
“OKAY BYE SISSY!” Click.
If you got a headache trying to read her end of the dialogue, imagine what it’s like in person. You’d probably be able to get the gist of the conversation just from reading my end of it, though.
A couple of days ago, she called wanting the number of a pet groomer, and to be honest, it was the weirdest conversation we’ve had to date. It was completely normal, and I didn’t get called Sissy once. I think she may have gone on medication, and I dearly hope it’s working out.
Cause otherwise, I'm stuck with giving her this face:
Momma always said if I made this face, it might get stuck this way. It would be a time-saver if it did.
Alright, I’ve noticed lately that my posts have just been getting longer and longer, so I think I’m going to try to cut down on the length and increase the frequency. This one was still pretty long, but I’m thinking of it like cutting down on cigarette usage. Going cold turkey might be efficient, but it sounds painful. I like writing.
Also, you’ll definitely get to hear more stories about crazy clients, which might or might not be a positive thing for you. Get used to it. I already have a couple more good ones loaded in the chamber.