Iwas crouched underneath a horse, checking to see if my nerve block was working. I was starting to sweat and my knees were hurting when someone spoke loudly into my ear. “Dr. Diehl, I’ve referred Wendy M. to you. Her horse’s name is Rich- ard, and she lives here part time. She’ll be calling you this week.” I looked up to see the barn owner beaming down at me and gave her an uncertain smile back. We’d had a falling out years ago, based on a horse I’d found major problems with on a pre-purchase exam. I’d advised
against purchase of the horse and had managed to mortally offend the barn owner,
the horse’s trainer and three boarders (none of them were the potential buyer).
I wondered about the referral all day, and when I arrived home late that night,
there was an email from Wendy M, with an attached vet record the length of War
and Peace. The email was enthusiastic and I sent a pleasant response back, suggesting we start with a phone call the following day.
/ Call One /
At 6: 11 a.m. the next morning, the phone rang. I had just gotten out of bed and
without thinking, answered it.
“Hello, Dr. Diehl, this is Wendy M! I own Richard, and I just wanted to tell
A case of phone
BY COURTNEY S.
DIEHL, DVM on the
you about him. Did you read his vet
records thoroughly? He’s a very dear
boy and means the world to me, so
here’s what you need to know about
his medical issues.”
She talked for almost six minutes
before I could get a word in edge-
wise. Had I said anything beyond
hello? How did she know she was
talking to the right person? What if
I were the housekeeper or an early
rising guest? OK, I didn’t have a
housekeeper. But still.
Groggily, I interrupted the torrent
of words. I told her that I’d be more
than happy to schedule a phone call
for later in the day during business
hours, and we settled on 1 p.m. She
wasn’t happy to be put off, but I was
firm. My mornings were precious,
and I wasn’t about to spend one on a
routine phone call.
/ The Second Call /
At 12: 45, Wendy called again. I was
finishing up with a client, and didn’t
pick up. She called again, and then a
third time. Worried, I answered, thinking maybe there was an emergency.
“Oh hello, doctor. I just wanted to
make sure you’d read Richard’s vet
records thoroughly before our call. I
like to have everyone prepared.”
“Ah,” I said, thinking of the 200+
page document I hadn’t looked at.
“I’m actually finishing up an appoint-
ment right now. I’ll speak to you at 1
I’d read somewhere that if you
smiled during a phone call, it put
a pleasant lilt into your voice, so I
beamed as I was talking. Maybe it
worked. Wendy hung up without argument and I finished up my appointment, apologizing for the interruption.
At 12: 55 the phone rang again. I
ignored it, as I was cleaning the back
of my truck and putting equipment
away. It rang again at 12: 56, 12: 57,
and 12: 58. At 12: 59 I answered it.
“Are you always this hard to get
hold of?” Wendy M. scolded. DUSTYP