It wasn’t my first day at work, but it was close. I was standing in one of the treatment areas of the veterinary hospital. After a morning of surgery, I was asked by my boss to observe the treatment of an obstipated cat. She went over the history and treatment plan and let me examine the patient myself. One of my favorite things about my employer is her commitment to mentorship (my absolute favorite thing is that she hired me).
So I palpate the cat’s abdomen and feel the hard-as-cement fecal material within it. I stand off to the side to let my boss and the technician perform the enema.
The technician helping my boss was struggling to pull up the viscous mixture of water and mineral oil into the very large syringe. More force was required for the task than she could generate with one hand. I reached in to assist her, of course. Me big strong doctor! Me can help!
The first bit of this task went fine. The next part, well, didn’t. As I was pulling up the water and mineral oil, I applied a teeny tiny too much force to the plunger of the syringe – and ripped it clean out of the back. The force of the suction (“Me big strong doctor,” etc) was more than enough to spray the contents of the syringe all over the patient, the technician, and my employer. Those contents being a generous amount of water and mineral oil.
To make matters much worse, I escaped the incident without wearing even a single drop of water and/or mineral oil. The inevitable glares intensified when the owners of the glares (patient, technician, boss) realized this fact.
By a feat of forgiveness that borders on the saintly, I remain employed at this hospital. Never underestimate the value and importance of a good, sincere, profound apology. And then eight more. And buying lunch.