Tag Archives: co-workers

Cat Sitting

16 Dec
A couple of rescues from the NYPD.

A couple of rescues from the NYPD.

Last week, Dr. L introduced me to a new cat sitting client. His cat, Midnight, had that day been diagnosed as a diabetic. Him and his wife often go to Long Island for the weekend, and he needed someone to stop by and give Midnight her insulin. I quoted him my rates, and we had made a deal.

“You know,” I told him. “I also do cat feeding and litter box changes if you wanted me to take care of all of it while I stop by.”
“Oh no. There’s a lady in our building who does that and..um… she does that.”
“No problem. I’ll just take care of the insulin then.”

He sent me a nicely detailed email about the times he wanted me to stop by. The cat sitter that lives in the building would feed the cat in the afternoon, and I was to come over in the “early evening” to give her the insulin.

So after work I walked to the apartment, and as I entered, I heard someone rustling in the kitchen. I called out a hello and a slight-of-frame woman came out from the kitchen with a phone cradled between her shoulder and face.

“The technician just got here,” she said into the phone. “Yes, she just walked in. So I’ll help her.” She hung up the phone and turned to me. “I’m the other cat sitter. That was Bruce. He told me you were coming in the early evening, and it’s almost six.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you’d be here.”
“I’ve been waiting for you since 3 when I fed Midnight. I called Bruce to tell him that I could just give the insulin. I know how to do it myself, you know.”
“Oh, okay,” I said making my way to the kitchen to draw up the insulin. I wanted out of that apartment.

“Bruce is such a nervous daddy,” she continued. “I mean, I can give the shots. I know how. I don’t know why he hired you. I’ve done this before. I’ll hold Midnight for you. She doesn’t like strangers.”
“I actually met Midnight at the clinic.”
“She likes me better.”

So I let the woman hold the cat while I gave the quick injection. We both left the apartment together, and she told me to call her tomorrow if I needed help giving the injection in the morning.

The next morning I walk into the building and tell the doorman at the front desk the apartment number that I’m going up to. He picks up the phone and starts calling someone.

“Oh, they’re not there,” I tell him. “They left a key for me to let myself in.”
“That’s not who I’m calling.” I swallow my annoyance as I hear him announce to my cat sitter friend that I have arrived.
“She will meet you at the apartment,” he tells me.

I head upstairs and let myself in. I get out the insulin and start drawing it up as the cat comes out of the bathroom and circles at my feet. A couple of moments later, the cat sitter enters.

“When you said late morning, I didn’t think you meant 11!”
“Here. Let me hold Midnight. I can do this myself you know.”

I smile and nod and give the injection that I was paid to give.

“I’ve given injections to other animals before. I don’t think Bruce will be using you again. I’ll just do it from now on.”
“So I’ll leave my key here for them, so they don’t have to come by the clinic,” I say, placing the key on the living room table.
“Sounds like a good idea,” she says to me. “I mean, I have my own set.”

So, needless to say, I don’t think that client will use me again. I felt a mix of frustration and guilt. I never meant to step on this woman’s territory. I wasn’t trying to steal her client. I had no idea Upper East Side cat sitters could be so territorial.


The Common Sense Factor

13 May

Penelope. The greatest Golden-doodle I have ever encountered. Photo has nothing to do with this post.

I’m proud to have risen in the ranks at the clinic I work at. It took a long time to be trusted and respected as a good technician. I’m at the point where I function as the head technician on the weekends. About a month ago, we had a position open up. My manager (the true head technician) asked me my opinion on the different interviewees he had. I pushed hard for him to hire a young guy with little experience. On his working interview he showed up early, asked all the right questions, and was fearless in dealing with a cranky cat. My manager chose to hire another applicant instead, a veterinarian from another country who had more experience.

My manager and I debated back and forth about it. His decision came down to the fact that she had more experience and had high education credentials. I am not a manager, so there is not much I could do about his decision. All I could tell him was, “I just worry about the common sense factor.”

Common sense is a simple way of putting it. While most of the world thinks my job is snuggling with adorable animals, it takes a lot more than that. My job can be life and death. Making a small mistake could kill an innocent animal or lead to me or my co-workers being bitten or scratched. We don’t have room for someone who can’t think critically for themselves. A month into training my new co-worker, I find myself being cornered by doctors and other technicians complaining about her. I don’t know what else to do about it. I can teach someone to hold. I can teach someone to operate equipment, to draw blood, to run anesthesia, to perform a dental. But I can’t instill common sense.

It’s been frustrating dealing with someone who takes out their phone to text in the middle of a procedure, who still can’t work the microscope, who isn’t sure how to work the telephone. But those are minor complains compared to the possible disasters that could befall someone who doesn’t think things through.

Last week, we sent her to the reception area to get a dog who had come in on appointment. She was to bring it to the back to be looked over by the doctor. She didn’t look at the chart. She didn’t approach the dog slowly to observe its reaction. All she did was see a cute dachshund and grab it with one hand. The dog snapped at her hand which was not holding him securely, and the dog went tumbling to the ground, falling on its back. The dog wasn’t injured, but the client was furious. The new co-worker complained to me that it tried to bite her, that she didn’t know. I asked her how she didn’t notice the giant “Be Careful” written on the chart, and how she thought the dog would like being carried like a teddy bear.

The job of a veterinary technician requires a lot of thought. I don’t care if she’s book smart or went to a fancy university overseas. Give me that kid from the Bronx with only a high school education who knew how to safely and securely handle a stressed-out, hissing cat. The kid who stayed calm and held that scruff, asked the doctor if he should do something else, who watched the animal carefully to make sure the exam proceeded safely. I could have taught him the blood machine, and the EKG machine. But for the life of me, I can’t teach this woman I’m stuck with common sense.


10 Jan

Two types of veterinary technicians exist. There are the ones like me that enjoy the career as is, possibly want to do it their whole lives and bask in the freedom of much less responsibility. Then there are veterinary technicians who are earning an income and gaining experience on the road to becoming a veterinarian. I work with three of this second type of technician, and in this last week, two of them were accepted to Cornell University’s Vet School.

I SHOULD be happy for them. It’s an amazing accomplishment, and they are both hard-working and deserving girls. They’re going to make wonderful veterinarians one day, and I know that. But that wasn’t my internal reaction when I found out about their news. I was jealous, angry, spiteful. I found myself thinking that maybe they’d fail out of school eventually. And I felt disgust with myself soon after.

I carried around this ugly, jealous feeling for most of the day, ashamed of it, and trying to decide exactly what to do with it. I don’t even like to think that I’m capable of those thoughts.

I decided two things. One, I will be happy for them. I will find a way. I will smile and ask all about it and support them until I make myself believe it. Not sure if it is possible to kill those jealousy feelings in there, but succumbing to that kind of resentment is the first step on the road to bitterness. Two, I have to focus those feelings on myself and change them into something else.

I don’t want to be a veterinarian. I know that. I’ve thought long and hard about it, and the medical/science field is not for me. My creative spirit pulls me elsewhere. But the jealousy comes from their accomplishment. Those two lovely ladies worked hard, for years, and will have to work hard for years to come. And while I don’t want to follow the path they’re on, I have dreams and aspirations that require hard work, perhaps years of it, perhaps a lifetime of it. The last week I have brainstormed a good New Year’s Resolution for this brave and glorious year ahead. I tend to pick many specific commitments, but this year I have decided to pick one that is vague and noncommital.

Work Harder.

If I want things to happen for me. If I want those big accomplishments, I need to make some changes. When I think of the hours spent playing Candy Crush or the hours watching the same youtube videos over and over again or the dozens of times a day when I refresh my news feed on Facebook, such a waste of time! This isn’t to say that there won’t be any of that. I love relaxing and unwinding. There just needs to be less of it. I need to work harder, and I need to start now.

On Listening to Advice

5 Nov

I have a younger co-worker who got into an argument with one of the veterinarians. She is 23 and engaged to her boyfriend of two years. The veterinarian had lectured her about getting married too young, how it’s a huge mistake, and she will end up divorced one day. Needless to say, this was not his place to tell her that.

I was infuriated and stewed over the situation for a while. It didn’t take me long to remember when I met her over a year ago when her and boyfriend had just moved to the city. At the time, I thought she was making a huge mistake. I was sure that her boyfriend was going to smash her heart, and this city would eat that little Arizona girl alive. I thought that if I could have prevented her from moving to New York, I would have.

And I would have been wrong.

The thing about advice is that there are few things in life that are universal for everyone. When I moved to New York for a boyfriend, I barely survived. In retrospect, moving here with him was not the wisest decision nor was it the right one for me. But that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong one for someone else.

I survived a dark couple of years in my life, and I spent most of that time desperate for a way out, a simple solution to fix my problem. I read endless amounts of inspirational blogs/books/magazines. Every time I met someone who seemed to have their life together, I would mull over in my brain what was their secret, how did they have it together. I ended up learning a lot of things that did help me, and a lot of things that didn’t. I’m still embarrassed that I used to attach my photo to my resume, simply because a girl I worked with as a barista got a job that way. How weird.

The main thing I learned is that while people tend to give you advice from the bottom of their heart, what worked in their situation won’t always work in yours. Everyone who gives advice is pulling it from what worked for them. That doctor who warned my co-worker against getting married too young has been through three divorces. So, yeah, I bet he thinks getting married young is a huge mistake. On the other hand, my grandparents weren’t much older than my co-worker when they got married, and they were very much in love for over 50 years of marriage. All of my friends who swear by online dating honestly have a blast skimming through profiles and meeting up with new people every week. It only convinced me that I was going to die alone.

Advice is great. People giving advice is even greater. It means they give a shit and want you to learn from their experiences. And maybe what they tell you will make all the difference. But we still have to carve it all out for ourselves at the end of the day.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten has been the simplest.

Work Hard. Be Honest. Smile and Laugh as much as possible.