Friday, August 1, 2008

Stern office managers and a Stevie update

Any dreams we had for world domination with an armada of Steves are now officially quashed.

When I think about the current pet breeding stock out there, and the imbeciles who don't get their animals fixed, I get really really mad, because those animals just cannot be as cool as Steve is, based on who their owners are. This city is overflowing with strays, and animal breeders — whether they live behind me or in Princeton — are just creating heartbreak, even if they claim to be ethical or humane or whatever. Some city animal is getting euthanized in a shelter somewhere because of a breeder. Or some poorly trained, owned-by-a-rich-moron suburban dog is suffering the same fate because aforementioned rich moron never bothered to train or sterilize his pet, and as a result, allowed the dog to explore his more aggressive side.

I'll get off my high-horse for now, because mostly, I just wanted to say that Little Stevie is doing just fine. He was sleepy when I picked him up at Trenton Veterinary Hospital yesterday afternoon, but he wagged his little tail at me, which just melted my heart. Glen and I had been worried about whether or not Steve feels any loyalty to us, because Steve is so friendly, that maybe he'd be just as happy with anyone else, and if, god forbid, he disappeared, maybe he wouldn't even miss us, like we would him. But the tail wag said volumes: it let me know that we're worming our way into his little heart too, and I'm glad for that.

By the way, the vet at Trenton Veterinary Hospital is Dr. Peter Batts, and he's fantastic. He's British, and therefore, automatically — right or wrong — reminds me of the author/vet James Herriot, who wrote several (heartwarming AND heartbreaking) semi-autographical stories about his time as a country vet in England. Most vets really do like animals, but Dr. Batts seems especially fond of them; he even told me that Steve was "really cute," and is "such a good boy," which just made me beam with pride. I also admire Dr. Batts because — someone correct me if I'm wrong — he may be one of the only vets, if not THE only vet, left in this city. He's right across from the reservoir on Pennington Avenue, and that gives him some serious cred, in my book.

I need to mention — and am mostly doing so because I have seen it elsewhere on the web, and I do think it's fair — Dr. Batts has an office manager who is a stern German woman. I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but there is something really compelling to me about a stern office manager, or clerk, or shopkeeper, especially if said manager/clerk/shopkeeper is German (or Sikh, as in the case of the austere owner/manager of Subzi Mandi on Quakerbridge Road, a man I mentioned in a follow-up comment to my post earlier this week about food). In these situations, I have the ability to detach emotionally, and am often amazed and amused by just how far the scowling, judging clerk/manager/owner can go and still keep business coming in. And in the case of the office manager at Trenton Veterinary Hospital, I reckon she has seen some horrific sights, which may explain some of her behavior. Or maybe the harshness might simply be because she's German, you know? Germans are just harsh. And before you give me any crap for that, just know that I am a good deal German, and have been surrounded by them my whole life, and have always been amazed and impressed at just how well they speak their minds, ALWAYS with brutal honesty and eloquence, and often with a really sweet, sing-songy tone. Like the old family friend who told my sister (about me, and my pregnancy), "But she is too old to have a bay-bee." Or the other family friend who sweetly proclaimed that, "Americans need to call ahead when they vant to visit someone else because Americans are very, very messy and need to clean derr houses virst. Not so in Deutschland. Ve are very, very orderly and can drop by venever ve vant." Or Tante Helga, my godmother, and the first wife of my uncle (my mother's eldest brother), who called my father to express her condolences about my mom's sudden death, and to tell him that she "vood be drinking a visky sour in Maggie's honor because me and Maggie had big dreams. Ve had our babies at the same time, me and Maggie." She added – tenderly, I promise — that "perhaps it was for da best that Maggie could not be revived, Mike. She vood have been a TERRIBLE patient."

Anyway, it's because of my experience with Germans that made me think that I could chum it up with Dr. Batts' office manager after a visit or two, but, after yesterday — my third trip in — I have concluded that there will not be any chumminess any time soon, since she appeared to not even recognize me when I came back at 5 to pick up my dog. I mean, how many massively pregnant white chicks with toy-sized dogs named Steve are coming in? My guess: just one. And that would be me. So, I walked in, and said hello, but didn't announce myself, partially because I think it is up to the employee to invite the customer to speak, and also, because she seemed to be doing something that required a bit of her attention, and also, because I (erroneously) thought she would remember me, and just head back for Stevie when she was finished with whatever else she was doing. But it didn't go like that. When she completed her task, she looked up at me, expectantly, demanding I speak with her glowering eyes.

"I'm here to pick up Steve," I said.

"Who?" she said, and this threw me a little bit, because I couldn't imagine any other Steves hanging out in the kennel waiting for a ride home.

But I like to be helpful, so I clarified and said, "Steve. Little guy. Got neutered today?" I knew this would ring a bell.

She looked at me blankly. I know she's not stupid, partially because she's German, and every German I've ever met has been really smart, and also, because there's no way a dummy could have been running that doctor's office for all these years. So my guess is that she's a sadist. And she said, with a blank expression, which I suspect she perfected decades ago, "...and you are?" She even made me spell my last name for her before she took action, but fortunately Dr. Batts and his vet tech overheard this exchange and knew right away who I was, and who Steve was, and retrieved him from the back for me, which is when Steve wagged his sleepy tail at me and Dr. Batts praised my dog, and all of that stern German business fell away.

I sat my sleepy puppy down on a blankie on the passenger side seat, and headed home in a direction I thought would get me there more quickly; but at the precise moment Steve slithered over onto my lap, I made a wrong turn and wound up on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. I just wanted to say that while I am not a criminal — not even part time — and therefore don't attract that sort of element to my life — MLK Boulevard just didn't seem THAT bad. I felt uneasy, but maybe only because people talk so much about it, and the big drug busts and shootings and prostitution that goes on there? At 5:15 on a Thursday afternoon in the summer, it's just a street in North Trenton, and one that doesn't even look as bad as some less notorious streets in East Trenton. At least it would appear to be the case yesterday. I'm not a dope: I KNOW what happens on MLK Boulevard, and so much of it is bad, and I hope we see some changes in our government soon, so that maybe the really rough pockets of our city get some more attention, and can get cleaned up. And at the same time, I think more residents in this city need to speak up against the bad press and stereotyping; not to the detriment to our safety, of course, since obviously Trenton's MLK Boulevard (sadly, like every other MLK Blvd. across the country) sees some seriously bad shit, but we all know that there are plenty of good people who live on that street too. We need to find balance, which might be the first step in reclaiming the city for the non-knuckleheads. Maybe?

Anyway, I got Steve home, where he expressed his gratitude and glee, and wobbled around for a bit, and eventually settled on the rug in the kitchen. When he woke up, he proceeded to dominate Simon, my very sweet cat, who may — possibly? — think Steve is just trying to cuddle. Steve fell down a few more times before going out to pee, and once out of our sight, managed to gobble up a pile of cat shit, shit belonging to a stray cat. And then he wanted to give kisses, once back inside. That did not fly.

One of Steve's favorite toys. And maybe his motto. Steve's cat-love is not pure, though. It's dirty, and it makes me uncomfortable.

Today, he doesn't have boundless energy per usual, but he's still all over Simon, who still doesn't seem to mind; he has dug two of Glen's socks out of the laundry; and spent some time head circling, following the blade of the fan in my office, periodically snapping at it. So, he's going to be fine, sans testicles; we may not even see a difference in his personality. And even though there can never be another Steve now, that might not be the worst thing in the world, either. He is a special, one-of-a kind, shit-eating, cat-humping, fan-biting freak. And he's all ours.


Anonymous said...

Dear Steve - Good job finding a lap on a 9-months pregnant woman, in a moving car on MLK boulevard! Hope your private area heals soon!
Glad to hear you're still humping! Good Boy!

Chrissy said...

Okay, you got me. Steve did find some lap, but he isn't THAT small -- one of his wobbly back legs spent some time trying to find a spot to settle on the bump, which made the ride down MLK Blvd. even more exciting.

And today is Sunday, four days post-op and he's had Simon twice already. Damn, he's a perv.

Anonymous said...

Germany: the Id of America?


Chrissy said...

Oh, Anonymous #2, you have given me so much to think about, and I hope you stop back to share some more of your thoughts on this topic.

I immediately dismissed the concept of Germany as id of America, but only for a minute or so, since Germans always strike me as so organized, and tidy, and controlled. But beneath it all IS a FIERCE impulsive drive. The more I think about the id in relation to Germans, I think you might be on to something. I think about the German friend who told my Christian sister "Derr iz no GOTT!" Unsolicited. Or Glen's German buddy who walked up to a woman and said, "Nice boobies, wow!" If I think harder about this, I could probably come up with another 10 examples of stuff a German said or did that no one else would ever dream to say or do, but everyone would be admiring the German, in some way, for "putting it out there." Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Anonymous said...

I discovered Dr. Batts years ago in Frenchtown where he also practices. I moved to NJ and spent a good deal of money at his practice. I have not used him for 5 years because of the two women he hired in his office. I brought in a cat that had tried to save my blind car from a opposum and had a swollen lip. He was immediately euthanized as having cancer. Batts knew I had no job. It took me two days to pay the bill because of my Social Security Check delay. The receptionist humiliated me in front of other customers. I came back as promised. The office manager was doing some very odd things when I came back -- brought it a large dog to sit at the doorway. I really was just there to pay my bill waiting for the women to take the money. Batts came in and yelled about the dog being in the office. Not such a nice thing to do to the dog by the way. Just a poor old thing. I now have to have one of my cats euthanized so I am going to him. He has always been nice to my cats and I hope he will help me get through this. As to Germans -- I had a nightmare American family and the best family I had in my life were my Mom and Pop in Germany (inlaws) who loved me even after I was divorced. hard life for Mutti. But all kindness. Had to add this because cold people live everywhere and it is not clear to me that Germans have any corner on that market and certainly the office manager has no accent. She may just be efficient and had a rough life.

Christine Ott said...

Hi Anonymous 2015! Thanks for reading this - it's been nearly 7 years since I wrote it! I wasn't aware he practiced in Frenchtown, too; I wonder if his employees go to both offices, or if the staff is different? Either way, in case you visited the Trenton office, I think the staff has changed since I originally posted this. I was in regularly through 2013 for my cat Simon, who ultimately needed surgery to remove a tumor from his mouth; and 2014 for some regular check ups. The office employee was polite. Good luck to you, and sorry to hear about your sick kitty.