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Road trip boredom busters

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Two hours seems like a reasonable estimate for the amount of time that the bog standard, large animal vet might spend driving around the great British countryside each day. That works out at three months per year, provided, of course, you work a strict nine to five.

For vets today, modern technology, such as satnavs and hands-free calling, has robbed them of the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the holy trinity of steering, map reading and trying to track down the lesser-spotted senior partner after lunchtime on a Friday for advice on a case. Fortunately, what modern technology has done for the profession is provide vets with a variety of ways in which to entertain themselves on the road – now that a swift half pint in the local pub between calvings and colics is no longer socially acceptable. And so, to rid boredom between calls, vets fall broadly into one of three categories:

  • FM radio riders: the evolution of this species follows a well-trodden path. Fresh-faced new graduates will quickly tire of Radio 1 after the dawning realisation that every new pop song does indeed sound the same. Within five years they will have moved on and will be fortuitously off the grid at 10:30 every morning, only to regain signal as Ken Bruce’s PopMaster comes to an end. Despite the protestations of many, the golden years only officially commence once a daily visit to Ambridge is a regular feature in the work schedule. In fact, an episode of The Archers is widely accepted as the precise unit of time by which to delay departing for a choking horse. It ensures the optimum chance of self-clearance before arrival, without being too long so as to incur the wrath of a panicked owner wanting to know what exactly took you so long.

  • Bookworms: few have mastered the art of reading a paperback at the wheel – and rightly so – however, this no longer matters following the advent of audiobooks. Thankfully, most of us have moved on from the piles of unspooled cassettes and scratched CDs, but face the greater peril of re-establishing a Bluetooth connection. Extra credit goes to those brave enough to refuse to exit the vehicle on farm until the end of a gripping chapter, despite an eager farmer tapping on the window. My clients’ claim that a now retired colleague used to class these long, awkward minutes as billable time were never completely disproven.

  • Linguists: the arrival of podcasts has encouraged many enthusiastic jet setters to commit to learning a foreign language. This ought to be applauded, but the need to constantly remind us lesser mortals of such lofty ambitions means the inevitable abandonment of such extracurricular activity is met with a universal feeling of schadenfreude.

Honourable mentions must go to those who push the boundaries of professionalism to the very

limit. The advent of online shopping means the supermarket will have your groceries ready for collection and a mere five minutes to pull up and fill what remains of the car boot, during business hours, is too good an opportunity to miss. However, delaying 20 wild dehorns should never be justified on the fear of melting ice pops in the foot well.

Even better, there are millions of roadside geocaches across the UK (worth looking into) and these intrepid explorers may never stray further than 10 metres from the car. Unfortunately, spending 45 minutes looking for a damp piece of paper in a film canister under a stile, will not make that prolapse go back in any easier.

Whatever your preference, keep doing what makes you smile and forget about the pile of messages building up back at the practice. The futures even brighter, apparently we’ll all be passengers in driverless cars within a decade and can finally look forward to catching up on 20 years of lost sleep!

Do you ponder?

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vet.inpractice{at}bmj.com

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