“Son, we’re pilgrims in an unholy land.” – Henry Jones Sr.

Okay, let’s get this straight right off the bat. I am NOT a misogynist. As Henry Rollins said, I think women are poetry in motion. But, it didn’t take long into my journey in the animal care and control field to realize that a staggering majority of my coworkers were and would be women.

When I started volunteering at the Humane Society, most of the volunteer dog walkers were women. Ditto when I got hired on at the same Humane Society as a Kennel Attendant (actually, my title was Animal Care Giver. Sounds a lot better and doesn’t have the undertones of just how filthy the job really was). Most of my superiors, contemporaries and subordinates (alright, I had no subordinates. It was the definition of “entry level”) were all women. And that was fine by me. The job was grueling, the pay meager, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the days in the middle summer when we were packed to capacity, nary a run was open, and I rushed for five hours straight to get my job done by noon when the doors opened, even then I loved it. Brain surgery and the immediate time after that had me reeling and I had no idea what was I going to do next. None. Writing at all was a chore as I had to learn how to type again. And the idea of writing for publication? Yeah, not so much. When you have a talent for writing and you write for publication for a few years, you tend to develop a healthy respect for yourself. Some might call it ego, and some would be wrong. It’s not ego. It’s like any skill. If you bring a certain amount of raw talent for writing and that talent is molded by some very demanding, yet nurturing editors, you get better. And I like to think I had developed a level of skill in my craft. Meningitis and brain surgery had taken that skill and the confidence that I had earned and crumpled it into a little ball, and casually tossed it into the toilet. Plus, I had developed quite the stutter after the sickness. I basically made Porky Pig sound like a bloody Rhodes Scholar. And the cherry on the Sunday was my fatigue level of was off the charts. I couldn’t stay awake for more than a few hours at a time and never more than 7 or 8 in a 24 hour period. The way the doctors and nurses described it, I had effectively been hit by a car head on. So in that gray matter soup of the first year or so, I volunteered as a dog walker at the local Humane Society. The rest is history.

So when they offered me a job, I of course said “yes” and started loving it immediately. Every piss-soaked minute. I liked washing the food and water bowls. I liked the power hoses you could take someone’s nose off with. I liked the Volkswagon-sized washer and dryer where we did the dog laundry. And I liked the people. There was such a motley crew of folks on the kennel staff and almost all of them lacked a Y chromosome. In fact, one of my coworkers Thor (I’m serious as a heart attack, his name was Thor. And he looked exactly like his name. Big, burly, bald) used to joke that you learn pretty early on to do your job and do not speak unless spoken to. And if asked to lift something, ask how high. The Hotel was the exact same situation with almost the exact same ratio. Sure we had a few guys come and go throughout the years, but mostly it was four women to every man. I got real accustomed to being the guy who hauled around the heavy boxes of trifectant, the guy who held down the large lab while somebody clipped his nails. And when there was a fight brewing between dogs that just didn’t like each other, I found my baritone growl was just as effective at breaking it up as the air horn.

8 guys have come and gone through my vet tech program in as many years. Eight. Right now, it’s me and Orlando and 30 women, give or take. The teaching staff is comprised of one male veterinarian and three female techs. And I couldn’t be happier with that layout. See, not only do the odds favor a single guy like me, but when it comes to the professional environment, I find women to be more contemplative, more assertive and just plain easier to be around. I mean, not to sound to kiss-assy, but I think George Carlin said it best when he said if there is a God, it has to be a man, because no woman would have ever, ever, screwed things up this badly. The doc/chairman of the program even said so today. When we students get out into the work-a-day world, the vet comes in, asks the owner a few questions, cracks a lame joke and signs the prescription pad. We techs are the ones who work independently, are very much held accountable for our actions and better have a good explanation for them. I can’t wait.

When I started volunteering at the Humane Society, most of the volunteer dog walkers were women. Ditto when I got hired on at the same Humane Society as a Kennel Attendant (actually, my title was Animal Care Giver. Sounds a lot better and doesn’t have the undertones of just how filthy the job really was). Most of my superiors, contemporaries and subordinates (alright, I had no subordinates. It was the definition of “entry level”) were all women. And that was fine by me. The job was grueling, the pay meager, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the days in the middle summer when we were packed to copacity, nary a run was open, and I rushed for five hours straight to get my job done by noon when the doors opened, even then I loved it. Brain surgery and the immediate time after that had me reeling and I had no idea what was I going to do next. None. Writing at all was a chore as I had to learn how to type again. And the idea of writing for publication? Yeah, not so much. When you have a talent for writing and you write for publication for a few years, you tend to develop a healthy respect for yourself. Some might call it ego, and some would be wrong. It’s not ego. It’s like any skill. If you bring a certain amount of raw talent for writing and that talent is molded by some very demanding, yet nurturing editors, you get better. And I like to think I had developed a level of skill in my craft. Meningitis and brain surgery had taken that skill and the confidence in it that I had earned and crumpled it into a little ball, and casually tossed it into the toilet. Plus, I had developed quite the stutter after the sickness. I basically made Porky Pig sound like a bloody Rhodes Scholar. And the cherry on the Sunday was my fatigue level of was off the charts. I couldn’t awake for more than a few hours at a time and never more than 7 or 8 in a 24 hour period. The way the doctors and nurses described it, I had effectively been hit by a car head on. So in the that gray matter soup of the first year or so, I volunteered as a dog walker at the local Humane Society. The rest is history.

So when they offered me a job, I of course said yes and started loving it immediately. Every pee-soaked minute. I liked washing the food and water bowls. I liked the power hoses you could take someone’s nose of with. I liked the Volkswagon-sized washer and dryer where we did the dog laundry. And I liked the people. There was a such a motley crew of folks on the kennel staff and almost all of them lacked a Y chromosome. In fact, one of my coworkers Thor (I’m serious as a heart attack, his name was Thor. And he looked exactly like his name. Big, burly, bald) used to joke that you learn pretty early on to do your job and do not speak unless spoken to. And if asked to lift something, ask how high. The Hotel was the exact same situation with almost the exact same ratio. Sure we had a few guys come and go throughout the years, but mostly it was four women to every man. I got real accustomed to being the guy who hauled around the heavy boxes of trifectant, the guy who held down the large lab while somebody clipped his nails. And when there was a fight brewing between dogs that just didn’t like each other, I found my baritone growl was just as effective at breaking it up as an airhorn.

8 guys have come and gone through my vet tech program in as many years. Eight. Right now, it’s me and Orlando and 30 women, give or take. The teaching staff is comprised of one male veterinarian and three female techs. And I couldn’t be happier with that layout. See, not only do the odds favor a single guy like me, but when it comes to the professional environment, I find women to be more contemplative, more assertive and just plain easier to be around. I mean, not to sound to kiss-assy, but I think George Carlin said it best when he said if there is a God, it has to be a man, because no woman would have ever, ever, screwed things up this badly.

5 thoughts on ““Son, we’re pilgrims in an unholy land.” – Henry Jones Sr.

    1. Thanks Denise. Right back at you. I too have flipped to the HC in the last and wondered what happened. Even Modern Marvels was more stimulating than the schlep on there now. “History happens evetyday!” Really, but we don’t have to document the parts of history we should want to forget.

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  1. Just wanted to let you know I’m reading along with you. Your path and mine seem to have many parallels, and I’m enjoying your blog (anyone who names their dog The Amazing Kilgore Trout immediately gains status as my friend! Plus there’s the serendipity of both of us quoting George Carlin in today’s blog, lol). After I type this, I’ll be getting ready to head to the shelter to walk dogs, something I decided to do after surviving a near fatal illness at the end of last year…. Anyway, keep it up!

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    1. What was the illness? To me, Carlin and Kurt were cut from the same cloth. Funny, wise, profane, all at once. Read your blog post. Pardon my saying so, but you write so poignantly and yet there seems to be a dark cloud cast over it. Just an observation, I guess. I’m glad you didn’t quit the group. I, too, have something of a dark cauldron I have to stir everyday ot else it will stick.

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      1. Thanks for reading. It was pneumonia, the bacteria got into my bloodstream and I went septic. A dark cloud? I’ll have to think that over. I didn’t feel darkness while writing it– the messages were all positive– but I’ve been known to have a dark turn of mind, so I’m open to that. Happy blogging and good luck with school.

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