The client who wouldn't leave


I hurried into the exam room and uttered my usual cheery "Good morning!" before realizing that no one else was there.

I hurried into the exam room and uttered my usual cheery "Good morning!" before realizing that no one else was there.

Knowing that my schedule for the day was way beyond full, I wondered what was going on. My receptionist had the explanation.

"I'm sorry, Dr. O," she said. "But we can't get your next client out of the waiting room."

"No problem," I said. "I'll get him."

Extracting a reluctant client out of the waiting room is not a particularly difficult job for me. After all, I once spent three hours taking the dashboard out of a 1960 Dodge in the middle of the night so that an adventurous cat could be removed. I did the entire job with a flashlight, screw driver and a helpful client. (It would have taken only two hours with just the flashlight and screw driver.)

My confidence faded when I entered the waiting room and saw who I was about to deal with. It was Mr. Kibitz and his dogs, Yammer and Babble. He was telling everyone within earshot the amazing story about how his dogs know when they are coming to the vet. Although he is a good client, his appearances at the hospital can be a source of frustration. He will engage anyone and anything in a one-sided conversation.

There is no stopping him either. So, usually it is best to just let him go on (and on and on).

I called one of the technicians, and we took both dogs away to be examined. I figured that, sooner or later, Mr. Kibitz would realize the pups were missing and come looking for us. I was right.

"Hi Doc," he announced from the exam-room doorway. "How are my boys doing?"

Before I could answer, another technician appeared in the doorway behind him.

"Excuse me, sir," she said. Mr. Kibitz didn't budge.

She continued, "We have a problem in the treatment room, Dr. O, could you come right away?"

The man did not move. Instead he had questions. "What do you think is going on, Doc? Do you think it might be something serious? If they need you right away, there could be a real problem." All the while, he blocked my path of escape.

Getting him out of the doorway should not have been a problem for me. After all, I once managed to successfully remove a four-pound tumor from a cat that weighed three-and-one-half pounds after surgery. But he kept right on yakking as I tried to walk through.

After a few failed attempts, I decided to just squeeze by him. After taking care of the problem in the treatment room, I walked back to the exam room, and I had to squeeze right back through the doorway. He was so busy pontificating to the poor technician trapped in the room, he may not have even noticed my temporary absence.

A few simple vaccinations later, he left the room on his own. Apparently, he remembered a joke that he forgot to tell the receptionist.

Even so, we were a long way from seeing him leave. You see, he usually sits in the waiting room for an hour or so after an office call and chats with anyone who will listen (and many who don't).

You would think I would have no trouble in getting him out the door. After all, I am the person who can get a cat that is nine inches wide through a six-inch carrier door. And yet, every time Mr. Kibitz visits us, he spends half a day. In fact, he spends so much time here that we have even considered assigning him his own parking space. The plan is to install one parking meter and engrave his name right on it.

Dr. Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.

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