My first boss out of veterinary school was a man that I looked to for admiration, respect, leadership, skill, and inspiration. I was hungry to begin my career as an associate veterinarian under his tutelage. At the time, I believed the profession to be saturated by exceptional professionals who prioritized empathy, exceptional knowledge and skill, integrity, and honor towards everything and everyone. I believed that the reward of money would follow those attributes naturally, secondarily, and in a balanced truthful fashion. It did not take long to discover how wrong such a premise had been. It was like that point in time when you finally figure out that your parents are not invincible, that they don’t know everything in the world, that they never did, and that in many ways, they are as damaged and confused as you are in your own childhood misperceptions.
I learned quickly how he polished the image of his ineptitude with insincere charming bullshit spewed towards anyone who would listen, towards anyone susceptible to his tactics of entertaining deception. I learned how much he loved to manipulate clients into spending massive amounts of money for unnecessary diagnostics and treatments when he did not care or even have a clue about the reality of the case. I learned how he lied to everyone about everything; his wife, his associate, his peers, his staff, and his clients. His relentless pursuit, his unquestionable priority, was selling without conscience, without validity, almost always absent of a fair exchange over a service or skill of objective need. Being a veterinarian seemed to mean nothing to him beyond serving as a mask of respectable authority and having a license to ill. I honestly don’t remember him ever doing the right thing even once when he knew that he could get away with doing less. I witnessed overt malpractice and unethical manipulation of clients on a number of occasions, but fearing unemployment, the associated possibility of being blacklisted by him in the veterinary community, and quickly realizing that in truth, maybe there were more of his character types in our profession than mine, I was frozen in indecision, and thus controlled by the fear of him for a time. The truth was also apparent to many of the staff, but like myself, most were also caught in the employer fear trap. To be fair, I suppose others liked his tactics and the emboldening sense that they felt from carrying out his passive-aggressive manipulation and revenue depletion of others. There are always those minions who prefer such a destabilized approach to their interactions with others.
This man became a very successful businessman and eventually was elected President of my state Veterinary Medical Association. He deserves those accolades. They should be acknowledged, but what should also be acknowledged is that you should hope he never tried to diagnose or treat your pet for anything. He spoke bullshit and sappy charm to all of his clients and most of them ate it up. It was/is almost like most people really want(ed) the bullshit, the show, the song and dance. They just want to be entertained and have their assumptions and beliefs, no matter how far fetched or off the mark they might be, endorsed and enabled. It makes me sick to even think about the insanity of it all for too long. I still can’t fathom how the system became so broken that it props up people of that nature to become financially successful and to become esteemed as elected leaders who supposedly have everyone’s best interest at heart. Such a system leaves all of the “patients” under the care of an incompetent doctor of malicious intent whether those patients know it or not.
Cribb January 20, 2017