It was a short locum, a month or so of work. The clinic was in one of the homogenous, grey cities that teem across the landscape outside of the M25 motorway that rings London. I found my way through the tangle of rail, rocked by the clatter-sway of the carriages through endless soot smeared suburbia, to the final station. I hoofed my pack and guitar off the train, and was met by my new temporary boss. He was a sour looking, sallow faced man. A curt hello, and he took me to the clinic in his shiny Range Rover. The conversation was strange, halting, he seemed to lack any social grace at all, so he flung packets of information at me in fits and starts. We pulled up at the clinic, he gave me a very abrupt tour, then found the keys for the practice car I would be using. I moved my luggage into that one, then followed him to the clinic’s flat. He made sure I could open the door with the key, and scurried off.
I was knackered from a long day of travel, and was hanging out for some rest. I looked around- a nondescript street, crowded with terrace houses, a ubiquitous curry house a block away, nothing to be excited about here! I opened the door, to be greeted by a foetid, greasy, rank smell. Inside, in the dim light, a set of steps stretched up into the flat. Under the steps there were a row of dozens of garbage bags, full to the brim. “Erk,” I thought to myself. “That explains the smell.”
I wrinkled my nose and dragged all my gear up the steps. I found the bedroom, and dropped my bags. The flat was dim, dirty, cold, and grim. It was obvious that nothing had been cleaned here, for a long, long time. The only spot of colour or life in the whole damn place was when I turned the TV on, and with British free to air TV, that’s saying something! The bathroom was acceptable, and at least smelled clean.
The kitchen. God! Even now it defies description. Every surface was sticky with a thick layer of grease, every utensil, plate, cup, glass – you name it, was sticky to the touch. The stove was… congealed. It was, without doubt, the vilest place I have ever rested my head down in. All tinted with the faint smell of the garbage bags below, emanating. I rang the boss straight away, and complained about the rubbish. He said he’d deal with it tomorrow.
I never cooked in that kitchen. Takeaway was my sustenance for the whole of that job.
The clinic was an unhappy place to work. The Boss was a bastard, bullied his nurses (all except the head nurse, who he’d been bonking for years – she lived in a palatial flat above the clinic, and was his darling), and was interested in nothing more or less than pumping every penny he could out of his clients.
The first day at work, the full time assistant vet had to go and castrate a horse. She was a pretty fresh graduate, not terribly confident, and was wondering how best to anaesthetise the horse.
“Use the Immobilon,” He smirked. “There’s some on the shelf there, and the reversal as well.”
He looked satisfied at the shocked expression on her face. I was shocked too. That stuff is archaic, and VERY dangerous. If you needlestick yourself with that, you’ve got a couple of minutes to inject yourself with the reversal agent. A dangerous drug indeed, used primarily for darting big game like Rhinos and Elephants. And this was sitting out on an open shelf! What sort of clinic was I working in this time around???
The head nurse imperiously called him away, and he trotted off like a good little puppy dog. She sure did have him well wrapped around her little finger! I suggested a few other options to the other vet, did my best to build up her confidence, and then was sucked into the working day. “This is going to be an interesting few weeks!” I thought to myself.