Clinic Stories

Too Much Information

Mr. and Mrs. F were clients for many years. They were not glamorous, more accurately described as rough around the edges. They lived in an apartment next to a restaurant and Mr. F delighted in relating the vivid details of shooting rats as they came out of the dumpster next door. Often they could not pay at the time of service but they faithfully made payments in small increments each month until the balance was satisfied. Because they were honorable people I did not hesitate when they asked if I would work with Mrs. F’s sister whose dog needed surgery. All went well with the surgery and she left a small down payment, and then regularly made payments of $25 per month for over two years. There seemed to be no cause for alarm when two months went by without a payment. The bill was nearly paid off.

I was surprised when I received a manila envelope from Mr. F. Sadly, his sister-in-law had died and he forwarded nothing but an official death certificate as proof with no other explanation. A simple note or phone call would have sufficed. I was intrigued, having never seen a death certificate before or since. It was embossed and had an official seal, along with the coroner’s summation of cause of death - liver cirrhosis due to chronic ethanolism. I felt as if I was holding a classified document for which I had no clearance. I returned the certificate along with a sympathy card. At least she was not shot crawling out of a dumpster.

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