Sunday, March 25, 2007

Day 2

Wherein There Is Trouble In Boo-Boo Animal Paradise

There was something of a surprise for me when I arrived at the vet clinic yesterday morning. Not only was the power on, but there were lots of new faces. Newly hired faces. One new vet and three, count 'em, three new techs.

Whereas everybody was very nice, I found this very discouraging. Here they'd been telling me how desperate they were for assistance, and acting like they were chomping at the bit to hire me, and suddenly here are all these new people getting paying jobs before I can even apply. That was cause one of my disgruntlement.

Cause two was there were just too many damn people there. It turned out to be a semi-slow day, and with the youngest assistant - a kid who looked to be a teenager, the size of a basketball player in baggy jeans, with a soft voice and sweet smile - jumping on all the much of the feeding and cleaning, I began running out of things to do. Not that I missed the mopping, and I still did a lot of cleaning, feeding, administering meds, etc., but I began to feel superfluous. I felt stupid following the techs around reminding them that if there was anything I could do for them or I could observe, I'd appreciate it. I did get to learn how to run the autoclave and observe a skin parasite in the microscope out of that, but pickings were slim.

The nice tech who often guides me took pity on me and got me to collating radiographs (never call them x-rays or you'll sound like a yokel!), and teased me when I got all in a tizzy because the "W" section was alphabetized in the exact opposite order of everything else. (Yes, I am a mess in my home life. This is just a necessary adaptation after years of an overactive perfectionism gland nearly gave me multiple aneurysms. You should have seen how meticulously I used to sort my record albums).

Later, she showed me how to take a heart rate, which, although quite straightforward, I nearly failed spectacularly. The sweet dog we were practicing on was panting heavily, and for the life of me I could not hear anything beyond that, nor feel her pulse beyond her chest expansion (I was also busy worrying neurotically that I was getting my ear wax on somebody else's stethoscope, which was a bit of a distraction). Finally, after feeling that poor dog up for ten minutes I found a spot by her armpit that worked. I still wasn't sure that I got it right, because the rate seemed very elevated. It turned out this was the same dog whose x-rays, I mean, radiographs I'd seen earlier and thought "I'm no vet, but something looks very wrong in the chest region there." Shortly thereafter, I heard she was suffering from some kind of pulmonary disease. It's kind of hard to be proud of my powers of observation when it meant that this sweet pooch was close to death.

After that, I got to observe my second anal gland expression (that never gets old), and had a conversation with the head vet about my turtles. I wanted to see if anyone there did exams on turtles, since I've been worried that our monster girl, Edamame, may be eating her plastic plants and is not laying eggs yet. I figured we might need to get her an x-...radiograph, but this vet said, "oh, you can't do that with turtles, it's blocked by the shell." I narrowly avoided giving her the hairy eyeball, because I'd seen radiographs taken of a turtle with impacted eggs just that week on Emergency Vets, but I figured that a.) maybe that took a special machine, b.) most vets are not well-versed in reptiles and c.) bad idea to mouth off to the head vet when I'm not even hired, yet. To her credit, she recommended an exotic pet hospital to me, saying she or no-one else there knew enough about turtles for me to waste my time or money there. She also came up to me later with some books on turtles from her office, with appropriate pages she'd marked with post-its, and said I should feel free to look at them and photocopy what I wanted. It was really very sweet, and I had to go and ruin it by snorting to myself alone in her office later when I realized I already knew everything on the marked pages, including the part that clearly said one way to diagnose impacted eggs in turtles is with radiographs. Smarty-pants me.

And that, plus the stethoscope incident, illustrates a lot about what I was feeling that day. I'm finding myself in a strange suspension between being smart and dumb, the new kid and an old hand. Many of the people there are younger than me, and have less formal education than I do, but they have years of experience in that field. I go there willing and eager to clean litter trays and do laundry because I want to learn how to do what they do and see if I want to do it. At the same time, having that teenager there doing essentially what I was doing got my invisible hackles of ego up. I'm a well-educated, smart woman who's been working in a professional environment for years, taught myself web production and design, and worked as a paid and respected animal communicator. I also happen to be loping towards forty. So, every time someone kindly asks something like "do you know what the normal average temperature range should be for dogs?" or "have you ever drawn blood?" I want to slam my head against a wall, because no. I do not know those things, and I feel stupid about it, and I'm getting paranoid and reading condescension (probably falsely) in your voice because it I'm a fast learner, really I am, and how can I not know those things but know that you can take x-rays, fuck, I mean radiographs of turtles, and feline chin acne is often related to plastic allergies, and canned pumpkin filling treats canine diarrhea, and something was sure the hell wrong with that dog's insides?

So, anyway, stupid and smart at the same time. I suppose it's the price of trying a new career track later in life. I'm just going to have to try to leap at chances to learn and show them that I pick up things fast, without coming across as frustrated and arrogant as the little voice inside me sometimes is. That is, if they even turn out to have an opening to hire me.

I had a pretty good talk with the director of the place again, and she said she'd email the head tech who handles hiring and training, whom I haven't met, yet, so I can talk to her about possibilities when she's in on Tuesday. I felt like a got a few brownie points when I asked if there was anywhere I could stash my bike if I cycled there, and she pointed to her bike behind me in the corner of her office and said that that was how the clinic started - she and her partner, the head vet, had met at a bike show. On the other hand, although she'd sounded desperate to hire me full-time before, this time she mentioned something about "summer openings" when people take time off, which does not bode well. I have enough to worry about considering taking a full-time position that would involve a big pay cut. To have that position be overly tenuous would not be good. She was still very nice to me, but I came away worried. Even if I do get the month of severance my old job's HR said they might give me (which surprised the hell out of me, and I'm not counting on until I see it in my bank account), I will need income fairly soon. If it's not looking probable that they'll hire me by the end of the next week, I may start looking at other clinics. And, in the meantime, it's back to trolling the Interwebs for animal-related office jobs more in keeping with my current resume, just in case.

So, that was the gist of it. I was getting tired at the end of the day, even though it was earlier than I'd left the last time, and rung up Mrs. Nator on the phone. She answered in the tiny, pained voice that says she has a major migraine before she can even form the words. When I got home after the long bus ride, I found her curled on the bare mattress in the dark, my grubby fleece robe wrapped around her upper body and over her face. I promptly flopped down beside her, shoved my face under the lapel with her and passed out. I didn't awake for several hours, and I missed going to a good friend's birthday party. Then, I got my period. Wheee!

On a positive note, I did get to learn more and care for the animals, including OMG-THE-CUTEST-L'IL-FURRY-BUNNIES, Y'ALL! Yep, three silky-soft bun-buns, two up for adoption, and one boarding. They are messy as all get-out, but so inquisitive, and you should see when they get their fresh lettuce and carrot greens, numnumnum...

Moreover, if I'm this alarmed and upset that they may not hire me full time, it means I care about it. I'm not saying a big part of that care isn't that I'd be mad if I couldn't make an easy transition right into a new job without having to hunt any further. But, I think I really do want to try working there, yo. Why else would I be so excited to get there, so anxious to be given a chance, and so shaken when I think I might not?

I may have found something I like, there. How much money is that worth?


TigerYogi said...

I'm exhausted just from reading about your day!

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you! :)

Warrior Two said...

Yeah, you'll have to excuse my ignorance of your situation too, because I haven't read enough old posts. But having witnessed the vet tech world, I know that it's a world populated with a lot of young kids who learn on the job, and you just have to accept that. It's like retail. That doesn't mean you should feel bad about wanting that job, because if you're to get any farther, you'll need to have done it.

Of course, you don't have the hands-on experience yet, and you're not going to be certain about anything yet. You should congratulate yourself that you DID notice that something was wrong with the dog! Things will get clearer the more practice you have (and it'll only be a matter of months.) Plus it sounds like the vet office is populated with duplicitous wankers. Not at all unusual, I'm afraid. A lot of ego in that biz.

If, for whatever reason, this falls through, is there another place you can check out? The Reptile Hospital sounds awesome.

PS I taggeth thee.

Kenyo said...

Slave wages can be expected in the not-4-profit world but to do so in what appears to be a real company is strange for both parties. Possibly they are working you?

Kenyo said...

This is off the subject but isn't there even one browser that still supports my favorite <sarcasm>HTML tag</sarcasm>? Have they ALL deprecated it?

Da Nator said...

Hey, y'all. I don't think anyone's working me. I think it's a typical vet clinic. Vet techs just get paid bupkes, so there's a high turnover. This is why the director told me there's a shortage of them in the city. FWIW, veterinarians don't generally get rich, either.

Warrior (I keep wanting to say "hey, War-ri-ah! Come our to play-ay!") - I have a few amusing stories I could tell about the tech with the biggest ego (one of the only guys, natch), but I'm going to refrain for now, lest this blog gets found. And thanks for the tag - I'll see if I can do that meme later in the week. :o)

First Nations said...

you know that about 1/2 of that bleah is from the time of the month and worry from the mrs. feeling poorly.
i'm pulling for you to get into this. and i bet like most jobs where there's a lot of young people, a large part of impressing the boss will consist of simply coming in when you say you will and doing what you say you will. i know what you mean...i hate that part of a job too, not knowing when to jump and when to stay in the background.
go nator!

Corn Dog said...

Nator, I think you'll get the job. Sounds to me like the vet came with his/her own techs. I have seen this happen before. If it was up to me, I'd hire you in a New York minute because you care, you're reliable, you're smart AND you're 40. You are there because you really want to be. Best of luck to you.

Da Nator said...

Hey, hey - hold the phone there, skippy! I didn't say I'm 40, YET. I've got 3 and a half years to go. Sheesh.

But thanks for the rest, CD. ;o)

BigAssBelle said...

oh good god, you're just an infant. 37. criminy, i thought you were old.

okay . . . no amount of money makes up for doing something you don't love. it's 40+ hours out of our lives, every week. it's a huge percentage of our waking hours in life in general. it must be something rewarding and not just financially.

is mrs nator feeling better? migraines are a bitch.

it sucks to be new and old, smart and stupid. been there. sucked.

you are a smarty pants and know more than the vet. be proud. it's an indicator of passion about animals. yay for you.

in my pathetic state, we can file for unemployment even when we've quit a job. we can collect, there's just a longer waiting period. just figured new york might be the same way.

but things will work out here, i believe it, so no worries. but tuck that one away under your little cap and keep it snug as a safety net. it ain't much but it's better than nothing.

i'm out of words of wisdom and the phone is ringing. ta!

Corn Dog said...

Oops. My bad. Sorry. I thought you said you were 40. I just want everyone to join me in middle age.

Warrior Two said...

Great, Corn Dog, drag us all down with ya!