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When you take a seat in the waiting room of a veterinary clinic, a feedlot office or an animal health store, you occasionally notice a body sitting there who looks out of place. They are often dressed in a more formal attire than most clientele. They may be doing their times (two times two is four, two times four is eight, etc…), they may be reading the 10-year-old copy of Progressive Recipes Magazine or they could be annoying you … just killing time.
These dedicated people, who seem to take precedence over no one in the animal health food chain, are company reps. Salesmen armed to the teeth with research trials supporting their product, special offers to entice volume buying out of season, and lunch money. They are the mainstays of our continuing education.
They seem to exude a certain tension, which is understandable … they have the job security of a smoke jumper.
A big part of their regular duties is producer meetings. Some of these meetings go well. Others … well, others prove that masochism builds character.
John works for an international pharmaceutical company that offers products for use in livestock. He arranged with the manager of a good-sized feedlot to put on a meeting for the cowboys and vet crew employed therein.
A local steakhouse was selected as an appropriate location for the meeting. Supper and drinks were furnished as bait. A good crowd of 18 or 20 showed up for the meeting.
No separate room was available, but the maitre d’ had set up a single long table that ran the length of the room, wall to wall down the center of the dining area. John set his movie screen against the back wall at the end of the table. The slide projector sat in the middle of the table between the attentive cowboys.
John began his presentation. He started with lung diseases. Pictures of fulminating pluritis glared from the screen, attracting the attention of random diners. Presently, an incidental customer walked between the projector and screen, excusing himself politely as his shadow darted across a rather explicit slide of chronic suppurative pneumonia. As John was soon to discover, he lay in the direct and only path to the restrooms.
The wayfarer returned, tripping over the projector cord, which gave everyone a moment’s respite from pulmonary contagion.
Just as John segued into injection site abscesses, he was interrupted by the waitress, who stepped into the spotlight and asked, “Who ordered the scotch and water?”
Then, in the midst of his discussion on rumen physiology, a group from the other side of the room broke into song. It was “Happy Anniversary to you,” dedicated to a couple celebrating 58 years of wedded bliss ... “Happy anniversary…” “…methane…” “…to yo-o-o-o-u-u-u…” “…is released along with…” “Yeah, yeah, applause…” “Scuse me, I gotta go to the john…” “Sure” “Carbon dioxide” “Any questions?” “Yes, who ordered the two whisky sours and the Bud Light?”
On the drive home, John commented to his boss, “All in all, it wasn’t too bad a meeting.”
“Yeah,” the boss said, “But ya know, they might’ve missed some of the details.”