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Monday, February 8, 2010

Best Job

While I've held a lot of high profile and lucrative positions, the job I loved the most was the one where my pockets smelled of dog cookies and my lab coat was etched with permanent drool trails.

After that horrible week as a telemarketer, I found a job that was tailor-made for me. For several years I worked as a veterinary technician. I came aboard initially as kennel help, but it seems I made an impression on the cranky old vet known for his fiery temper.

Like all the others who came before, he ran me through the ringers. He was renown for driving young women to tears with his gruff demeanor, but I realized early on that he was testing his employees. He wanted to see what you were made of.

Every day was a battle of wits between us. Every time I mastered something new, he'd throw another gauntlet down, just to see if I would crumble under the pressure of added responsibilities. Call it kismet, but I'm one of those idiots who thrive under pressure. Maybe it's because I was young and felt I had something to prove.

Before I knew it, he had invited me into his surgery to watch and learn.

I started with the menial tasks of cleaning up after surgery, then pre-op, and finally administering anesthesia. I loved it all. Who could have guessed I had an aptitude for medicine?

My greatest victory was the day he found me poring over one of his veterinary books. Thinking I was loafing, he grilled me to see if I had accomplished all my duties for the day. He rattled off one task after another and each time I assured him it was done to his specifications.

Frustrated, he grabbed one of the surgical packs, (a wrapped packaged of surgical instruments already sterilized and ready for use) and unwrapped it to see if I had screwed anything up in putting it together.

He examined each instrument with the scrutiny of a hanging judge. Finally, he tossed the opened pack on an examination table and said in his loud, booming voice, "Well, I'll be damned."

I had passed his last test. We got to be friends after that and more than once he offered to sponsor me at A&M University's veterinary program. It was a tempting offer, but I was still a new wife and A&M was many miles away. I couldn't see leaving my husband for that many years while I earned my doctorate.

I loved my job though. It was the kind of job I couldn't wait to start every morning. And I had learned more from that cranky old man than I ever did anywhere else. He was my mentor and I will always be grateful for the opportunity he gave me.

When I look back at all the jobs I've held, that's the one I point to and say: That was the best. It was the most fulfilling job I ever had.

What was your best job? Why did you love it?


Joanne said...

Those are the best jobs, and experiences, the ones that really teach us not only about life, but about ourselves too. You were fortunate to have that mentor, and to realize it at the time too!

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Joanne!

I think about that old man a lot. Though I'm pretty sure he's dead by now, I'd like to tell him that I turned out okay. :o) He was a good teacher.

Dru said...

My best job was my first full-time job working for Girl Scouts of USA. I was a statistical clerk and I had the best mentor possible. She gave me the ins and outs of working in corporate America which I retain to this day. One of the things she said to me is to always say hello and thanks to the receptionist and the cleaners because they're doing a job as well.

Dru said...

Besides, we also got free cookies every day.

Sherri said...

I think I was blessed. Outside of being a mom I had two awesome jobs. One was as a Nanny to triplets.

The other was Program Assistant to the Respite, Senior, and Veteran Services Program at a non-profit Area Agency on Aging. Talk about having your cake and eating it too! I was helping the community and getting paid for it. Only reason I'm not still there is because we moved for hubby's career. My little feather if you will was that it took two people to fill my shoes, LOL, I had that position working like a well oiled machine. And it all started as a part-time, help the director get caught up position, LOL.

Maria Zannini said...


Your mentor gave such great advice.
I agree wholeheartedly.

Ref: cookies
Talk about perks! LOL.

Maria Zannini said...


I think it's interesting that your favorite jobs spanned both children and the aged.

You are definitely a nurturer.

Elana Johnson said...

I love this story! I'm living my best job: teaching. It's a dream come true. :)

Maria Zannini said...

I have a special place in my heart for teachers, especially elementary school teachers.