"You sit on the chair," my assistant asked me to enter the consultation room and pointed to the yellow chair when I arrived at around 10 am at Toa Payoh Vets. Mr Saw was busy cleaning up the kennels but he asked me to enter the consultation room before him.
"Why?" I asked. He just repeated "Sit on the chair."
So I sat on the chair as I thought he wanted to discuss something with me since April 5 was his last day at work. He would be back in Yangon tomorrow.
I was so surprised that he knelt down, bent his head and touched my shoes three times before he stood up. "This is Buddhist culture," he was thanking me for the past 3 years of mentorship. I hope he would do well in Yangon in private practice. He had been through 3 tough years under me and learnt much more since he was willing to learn. Veterinary practice is not just treating the dog. It involves communicating with the pet owner to create confidence and a lot of administration work. In a small practice like mine, he learnt all the tricks of the trade - to build up a practice with integrity and a high standard of service, not by under-pricing the competitors. A practice must be profitable, I said to Mr Saw many times. No point being the most well equipped practice in Singapore and being the best vet when the practice loses money every day. He understood what I meant after 3 years with me. There were offers from competitors to get him. This is Ok with me, I had said to him. "That means you are good and hard working. So, you have my blessings to get a better future."
Mr Saw can start his own surgery in Yangon without any worries of technical competency in small animal practice. But he knows it needs customers and money and that it will never be as easy as ABC.