This is part of a creative nonfiction story I've been working on for my prose class all semester long, and according to my professor it's possible that the fiction writing department might publish it in a book of short stories and essays to be used as a textbook for future classes. It'd be pretty cool if I did get it published like that, though I don't think my work is all that good just yet. Still, it'll give you guys something to read about. Also, Pittsburgh people might find some things familiar sounding, even without real names.
“Alright now, recruits, this here is one of our Madagascar hissing cockroaches. For those of you who are squeamish, I’ve only three words for you: get over it. These guys are disease-free, clean, don’t bite… actually, they don’t do much anything other than crawl around and possibly hiss if you squeeze them a little uncomfortably. Worst that can happen to you is that one crawls into your sleeve, but again, they don’t bite or anything, so there’s no risk. Just let them rest on your hand and keep your thumb on their back to prevent them from trying to wander. Rebecca, would start to pass this little guy around?”
The old zookeeper Amanda turned to the bored looking brunette girl next to her in the small circle of chairs we were all seated in, and reached out to place a little brown and black bug into her hand. Everyone in the room was nervous about their first day of job training for the zoo, so it figured that the instructor chose to pick on the one person in the room who didn’t seem to care very much. Rebecca, a perfect little prima donna with perfectly applied mascara and perfectly polished nails on her perfectly conditioned dainty little hands, just sat there stupidly for a moment before she realized that she had to hold onto the little cockroach being presented to her. I could swear there were the faintest traces of an evil smirk on Amanda’s wrinkled old face as she nonchalantly dropped the cockroach into the poor girl’s hand. The colors drained from Rebecca’s face the instant that the insect made touchdown into her palm, her eyes looking down at the twitching little antennas with a mix of fear and disgust. She let out an audible whimper of displeasure and quickly passed it off to the person sitting next to her to get rid of it before wiping her hands on her shorts, as if trying to destroy the physical memory of ever having had it in her hand at all. I couldn’t help but grin, because I could tell that working at the zoo for the next few months would be absolute hell for her, if she even made it that long.
I had always loved animals growing up, probably because of watching the Lion King so often as a kid and our family raising litters of puppies. When I was sixteen, my brother told me about a good job opportunity at the zoo, and I decided to jump on the chance before my parents tried to make me apply at a local restaurant to clear tables instead. It only took a day to apply and walk in to their office for an interview, and as it turned out I was able to get in with surprising ease because my uncle was dating one of the higher ups in the zoo’s administration. More specifically, my uncle was dating the person in charge of hiring. The lesson to be learned here was that résumés make better use as toilet paper than something to land you a job when compared to just having good connections.
It was only two weeks after my interview that my green uniform shirt arrived and I started my job training. I was sitting in a small classroom with the other new recruits in a circle of chairs that resembled more of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting than a training session. Amanda, the eldest zookeeper and our trainer, was sitting ominously on a folding chair in front of several carrying crates too dark to see what was inside, leaving several of the younger recruits feeling nervous and beginning to regret their horrid decision to work at the zoo.
The first training day for new recruits was a simple lesson on how to handle some of the basic animals like rabbits, hamsters, snakes, and of course, cockroaches. We sat around listening to Amanda’s instructions and learned the proper ways on how to hold a baby possum so that it didn’t try to wrap its tail around your leg and cling to you shyly as though you were it’s mother, or how to feed a rabbit who has had his front teeth surgically removed, or how to carry a naughty ferret in a way that it won’t slip free from you or try to playfully nip your hand. For the most part, it was all rather easy for us… except for the damn cockroach. Even though it was obviously the smallest and simplest creature to handle, most of my fellow future colleagues couldn’t help but squirm in disgust and nearly drop the little bug when it crawled into their hand.
The cockroach slowly made its way over to me after crawling through the various hands of its future keepers, many of whom with a look on their face as if it was the most disturbing thing they’d ever had to do in their lives. I took it hesitantly into my own hand, nervous at first, but as it I held it up and felt its tiny antennas tickle against my fingers, I couldn’t help but think that it was a cute little thing outside of the movies portrayal.
* * * * * *
Every morning before the zoo opened, a regular staff member of the zoo would show up at least an hour before the gates opened for the public. There were two parking lots for them to park their car in: the regular guest parking lot, or the staff parking lot toward the back of the zoo. However, the parking lot in the back is usually reserved for administration and higher ups, so the regular parking lot was usually the one that would be used. That meant that a normal staff member would have to park in an obscure space to avoid taking up prime guest parking spots, go in through the exit gates at the entrance of the zoo, and then traverse the long winding trail to their various morning work stations, having to make a 1000 mile long trek along the sloping range that went uphill in every direction whilst they try to avoid the menacing sprinkler system that seemed to always purposefully turn at the last moment to catch its prey with an unsuspecting spray of water to the face.
Once they’ve reported in, a staff member at the zoo would be given two assignments, one before lunch and one after. These two assignments were usually opposite one another in terms of enjoyment, with one assignment usually being something dull or in a place no one liked to work, and the other assignment usually being something more interesting or at least different. Every once in a while, two interesting assignments would be given on one day, but the law of luck meant that a staff member was more likely to receive either the usual combination of good and bad assignments or two assignments that weren’t particularly enjoyable. Life’s a bitch that way, but working at the zoo meant you are used to it.
After the gates open for the public to come in, a staff member must stay in their given area until they are allowed to go to lunch. This can vary on the time table from only two hours up to about five, and it is guaranteed that a staff member will get a super long shift at least once every single week. This means, if the staff member didn’t head to the bathroom before the gates open, they were going to be holding it for a very long time, and the results of that are never pretty.
In their assigned area, the staff usually have a little “chore list” of things they have to do, which usually include (but is not limited to) cleaning up any waste products and providing an ample supply of food for the animals’ breakfasts. They take careful note of the animals’ health and behaviors, writing up reports and keeping a close eye on them to make sure that everyone is in their prime. It would really look bad if one of the animals died in front of the guests, after all.
If the area that the staff member was given is a small section or something that is more interactive with the guests, like the deer yard or kangaroo yard where guests can actually come in and pet the animals, the staff member usually would have to sit around in the shade (if there was any) and be available to answer any and all questions that the public might have, despite the large informational signs posted right next to them that probably list more facts about the animals than what the yard attendant would know off the top of their head. Oftentimes the main job there would be to simply scoop up animal manure and yell at anyone doing something stupid that they shouldn’t be doing, like trying to harass the animals or climbing on the rocks or trying to feed the animals less than healthy “food items”. It should be obvious that pizza, candy, paper wrap, plastic cups, and metal coins are not a part of the animals’ diets, but it’s also guaranteed that there’s always going to be some dumbass who doesn’t realize this.
Everyday during the lunch hour, the staff would rotate strategically so that at least one person was still in the assigned area at any given time. After all, G
od forbid there be no one attending the goat yard and helping the poor lost guests figure out how to open the gates without one of the laziest creatures in the zoo following after them, or not being there to point a desperate child in the proper direction to the bathrooms conveniently right behind them. Once a staff member has someone else to cover for them, they are relieved from their duty and have one hour to relax, chow down, and either boast or gripe to their coworkers about how their day is going so far.
Usually a staff member would bring his or her own lunch with them, because even with employee discounts, the food at the zoo was expensive. A simple sandwich would cost an arm and a leg, a slice of pizza would cost your first born, and a complete meal with both fries and a drink would cost your soul, something that zoo concession stands usually lacked. Everyone knows that they’re vultures trying to milk as much money as they can from the starving guests who forgot to bring a lunch. Sucks to be them.
After lunchtime, the zoo staff would head off to their next assigned area at the speed of their interest in the duty. If they had an interest in feeding the often ignored crocodile, they were usually pretty swift to show up, but if they had little interest in watching goats meander aimlessly, they usually took a little extra time in making sure their shoes were properly tied. After all, one must make sure that their work appearance is topnotch when there are guests around. The staff would then stay in their new areas until someone came to tell them that it was closing time, usually doing nothing more than what the morning staff did but in reverse. They’d watch over their areas, verbally abuse anyone breaking the rules while being overly polite to everyone else, and then put the animals back in their inside pens for the night come closing time, coupled of course with giving the animals their dinners and taking more careful notes for how the animals behaved during the day.
At the end of a long day, the daytime workers who kept the zoo running would sign themselves out and tiredly make the long trek back the same path they had entered in the morning upon, this time going downhill and not having to fend off the devious sprinklers. They would put on their jackets and hats and pretend to be one of the straggling guests making their way through the exit gates, and head back to their car to go home for the night, knowing that they would return in the morning to start all over again.
* * * * * *
The Kids Kingdom was a section of the zoo that is quite obviously meant mostly for the kids. It had a lot of domestic or common animals such as deer and sheep in addition to the more rare sights like river otters and owls. It also had a lot of playtime diversions for the kids that weren’t interested in animals anymore. After all, when they’re less than three feet high and fairly tired from such an enormously long walk on those little feet, their already short attention span tends to grow even shorter as their parents continue to drag them along. So there’d be areas for sea lions, kangaroos, beavers and such, but also large slides, jungle gyms, and just simple rides for the kiddies to play in instead.
When a guest first entered the Kids Kingdom, they’d immediately see a large childlike sign announcing the title of the immense domain before them. Most adults who are either traveling alone or only in the company of other adults usually scoff at the name of the place, as if trying to further emphasize how much of an adult they are to have outgrown such a childish sounding area. But then they take in what lays beyond the sign. They see the blue waters and dancing lights of the sea lion pool, and the ever-expanding ocean of green trees that extend up the hillside, and the countless number of visitors coming from the path with wide smiles on their faces. They smell the faint scent of salt water splashing not far away and the aroma of fresh pine trees wafting down toward them. Their interest is suddenly piqued, and they pull out their map to see just what all is actually in the Kids Kingdom.
“Sea lions? Hm, interesting. Deer? Boring. Goats? Oh get real. Kangaroos? Not bad. Otters, beavers? Those are always fun to see. Ooh! The reptile house is in there, I’m definitely sold now.”
Suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a childish place anymore.
The Kids Kingdom was in need of more staff than most other parts of the zoo, mostly to just keep an eye on the children and be friendly with the visitors. Workers would need to be stationed in the interactive yards where the guests were allowed to go in and touch the animals. It’s common principle not to trust the guests alone with the animals, especially after the one time that a keeper left the deer yard unsupervised and one stupid kid decided to ride on the back of a poor deer like he was on a horse, kicking into its sides and giggling as if it was the funniest thing in the planet. Well, it was kind of funny, but the deer’s bruised sides and the child crying his head off after falling off the deer was definitely not funny at all.
In the playgrounds, someone would have to be there helping in the spider climb ropes in case anybody got their foot caught in the net, and there would always have to be at least one staff member at each end of a large slide, to insure the safety of the slide’s riders and prevent what should be a fun activity from turning into lawsuit city. Additionally, guests could purchase tickets for small rides like the Safari Cars (which in truth were just little Flying Turtle scooters) and the Log Ride (which was essentially just a mini-boat ride across a little pond), so staff would be needed to man these as well. Keepers had much more important things to do, so most of the less experienced workers and volunteers would be working in the Kids Kingdom first to take care of these jobs. At least it was better than having to work zoo’s gift shop or something.
Everyone’s favorite duties at the Kids Kingdom were the notorious animal demonstrations and the touch tables. Every day, we would be randomly assigned two areas to work in for that particular day, one before lunch and one after. Most of the time we would have basic jobs like tending the kangaroo yard or being a ride operator, but every now and then we’d get a chance to break out of the mundane and interact more directly with the animals instead of being baby sitters for guests.
For a demonstration, we’d get two or three staff to select some random “show animals” and present them in front of a crowd, giving enjoyable little presentations of the animals in a small amphitheater. It was always fun to be able to stand up before an audience with a rarer animal like a binturong or owl, and educate the people while showing off your expertise with the creatures.
For touch tables, we’d set up a small table in a building called the Discovery Pavilion, and have a few staff members carrying some domestic animals to give small one-on-one presentations to the guests, talking about the basic facts of the animals while letting the guests gently touch and pet them. We’d have simple animals such as rabbits, ferrets, chinchillas and small snakes, the latter of which would always try to terrify the smaller creatures if they were allowed to be close enough. It’s a much preferred job over scooping up manure in the deer yard by a long shot, half because you got to sit down for most of your shift and half because handling animals was the main reason most people wanted to work at the zoo in the first place.
The biggest quirk for me when I’m on touch table duty isn’t so much presenting the animals, but rather being able to torture the little children by holding up the scariest looking animals. As you can probably guess, I really don’t like little kids much, so nothing is more amusing to me than holding up a venomous looking kingsnake named Arthur, red with black and white bands and dark black eyes that look out upon the endless supply of “potential victims”, and then watching the kids shy back as far as their braver parents will allow them to.
“Would you like to come pet this little guy?” I once asked with a sincere smile to a young boy passing by, as I slowly reached across the table and extended my arms out as far as possible as if to offer it to him. Arthur shot his tongue out casually and stared at the guest with what appeared to the frightened child like a demonic, hungry look in his eyes, as though it were sizing the boy up right then and there for his next meal. Instantly the child screamed and hid behind his parent’s legs trembling, while people around him wondered what the heck the commotion was about and suddenly grew interested in what we were doing.
I inwardly laughed as always and pulled Arthur back against me so that he could enjoy my warmth again, letting him flick his tongue out against my cheek in a little reptilian kiss. Such fun it was to torture little kids like that, and so few of them would ever realize what a sweetheart Arthur really was. He was a harmless reptile who never bit anyone. His favorite activity wasn’t gobbling up children, but was actually just curling up into a little ball inside of an overturned baseball cap. I wasn’t going to ruin the fun though, and instead of explaining Arthur’s innocence, I just smiled as the boy’s parent shot me a dirty look before dragging the now terrified child on to see the camels outside.
* * * * * *
The first indication that something was wrong during my touch table duty one Thursday afternoon was probably when I heard our supervisor shrilly shout, “Oh g
Mere seconds later, I suddenly saw that one of our chinchillas had managed to squirm his way out of his handler’s hands and jumped off of the touch table. Rick had been busy talking to a guest and not paying close enough attention to our most renown escape artist, Chile the Chinchilla. By the time he realized what was happening, the most that Rick could do was leap forward to try to catch him but instead crash into the table in what sounded to be a very painful way.
Chile landed on the carpeted floor and quickly made a mad dash through the legs of the various visitors, some of whom shrieked from having a “rat” run across their feet while others simply laughed at what was going on. The staff quickly put the rest of the animals back into their crates and joined in what we pretended to be an organized chase strategy. Pretend is the keyword, since we don’t really have a lot of practice running after chinchillas trying to make a getaway, but we needed to look as though we knew what we were doing. It’s not so much that a panic would ensue from the runaway convict, but it’d make us look like complete dumbasses if we couldn’t even keep control of a single chinchilla. So we asked the guests to kindly step to one side while we tried to catch the escapee, and quickly moved to block all exits from the building.
The building was a large but simple building consisting of only one giant open room and an upstairs balcony that overlooked everything. Additionally, there was only one entrance, one exit, and no real places for it to hide. As long as we blocked the only two possible exits from the building, we thought that it had nowhere to run to but into our hands. It figured though that Chile would, of course, go for the one area we hadn’t thought to block: the stairs going up to the balcony above. Desperate for his freedom, he quickly ascended up the stairs to the balcony overlooking the floor below, thinking to himself that he had outsmarted us. The balcony area was usually where we’d have little birthday parties set up for the kids, but on that particular day it was but a corner that we figured we’d finally be able to trap the little bastard in. After all, the only two ways down from the balcony were either climbing back down the stairs or through a set of staff doors, which I’m pretty sure are 100% chinchilla-proof.
Alas, we soon found out that there was more than just those two ways to escape the balcony, because Chile decided that freedom was worth risking his life for and jumped off of the very edge of the balcony to the floor below. There wasn’t any slow motion like you would see in the movies, with the dramatic climax where the hero makes a leap of faith for the greater good. No, he simply jumped, and a second later his furry little body bounced off the floor like a little ragdoll. Don’t feel sorry for him though. The shock of the landing merely stunned him long enough for us to finally catch the bugger and put him back into his carrying grate, and he was otherwise completely uninjured from the fall. He has, however, ever since then been referred to as the daredevil chinchilla or sometimes as the suicidal chinchilla.
What always amused me most was that this was actually the second time that he had jumped from that same balcony. You’d think that one of us would have learned after the first time.
* * * * * *
Did you know that a male kangaroo’s penis looks like a tree root, and that their genitals appear to be “upside-down”? The females develop a pouch during development, within which is a teat for the young baby that they will eventually raise. But what would develop into a pouch for a male instead becomes their scrotum, which is awkwardly located above their actual crotch and makes them appear to be anatomically backwards.
I know all of this because I was the unfortunate attendant of the kangaroo yard one hot summer day when Zoë, one of our eldest male kangaroos, decided to start masturbating in his little corner of the yard. Even worse was when a mother and her little seven year old daughter came in, and the girl asked me what Zoë was doing.
It is a true zoo keeper’s duty to be knowledgeable and informative about all animals under their care. But I just work here, so I told the girl that Zoë just had an itch.
* * * * * *
Zoo Campers are everyone’s worst nightmare. The zoo had special summer camps for little kids of all ages, where they would they would be put into small classes of about ten to fifteen kids and they’d be taught about various parts of the world like the rainforests or savannah. We’d have zoo staff either with or seeking an official degree in education teach these classes, but the teachers would often need some help keeping the kids in check while trying to teach and entertain them. They would need help to pass out crafts, clean up spilt paint, distribute snacks, engage the children in songs, play an old video of the jungle or desert, bring out an occasional animal to show them, take them on tours through the zoo, and just make sure the kids follow instructions. So oftentimes one of the duties of a Kids Kingdom worker would be to temporarily transfer to the Education Building on the other side of the zoo and join one of these classes to help teach.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: very few people who work in the Kids Kingdom actually like kids. We worked with kids all the time, so we’re quite obviously used to handling them, but it didn’t mean that any of us liked to do so. Luckily for us, the zoo administration couldn’t possibly know which days the teachers would need extra help and which days they didn’t. So if all the teachers felt they didn’t need any help, we’d be allowed to work in the back area of the Education Building instead, helping to clean the animal cages and take care of some of the rarer zoo animals not seen outside of the Education Building.
The back area of the Education Building was similar to the one I was used to working in at the Discovery Pavilion on the other side of the zoo, save for missing a few of the animals on the other side and having a few more animals that are only ever used for classroom demonstrations. It looked just like a regular white kitchen, with animal crates lined up on the wall and mountains of food, supplies, and toys piling up on shelves in one corner.
In the opposite corner of the room was a little playpen with a small skunk kit, with a small handwritten sign on it that said “Caution: Dexter is teething!” and had a small corner of it chewed off by the mischievous creature. When I first saw him, he gave me those ever famous cute baby eyes as if to say to me “Why am I trapped in here? Aren’t I a good boy?”, but I quickly learned that he was not a good boy and had my finger nipped when I tried to pet him. A large wooden stand stood in the center of the room, with a regal looking scarlet macaw named Alexander perched atop. The large bird content to just sit there and observe the world around him, but only as long as someone was present in the room with him. If he was left by himself without any humans around, he would noisily screech at the top of his lungs for someone to come keep him company again. I’ve already lost count of how many times Alexander has been threatened to be turned into the next Thanksgiving dinner if he didn’t shut up. The daily keepers in charge of the animals were usually grateful for an extra hand around if but only to keep the insecure bird quiet long enough for them to run to the bathroom at times.
The usual chore in the backroom would simply be to take out the toys and dishes from the cages and thoroughly clean them off at the sink, which was a surprisingly fun and easy enough task to do. On my first day back there, I was startled by a small nose sniffing at my feet halfway through washing the dishes. I glanced down and found a little fennec fox smelling my shoes and investigating the newcomer in his territory. It had bright whitish-gold fur, large bat-like ears, and big brown eyes that gave it the eternal appearance of a cute little puppy. This little guy’s name, as I was later told, was Toby. He was very friendly and was domestic enough to be allowed free run in the back area, something that no other animal in the zoo has as far as I know. When I saw him, I couldn’t help but smile, dry my hands off with a towel, and reach down to gently pet one of those adorable ears. This was soooooo much more preferable than working with the kids…
* * * * * *
Rebecca, sometimes known as Becky, Becca, Beck, Bee, Bexy, Re-Re, Prima Dona, Drama Queen, or sometimes just Queen Bitch, was the absolute worst partner to be paired with in any given situation other than fashion modeling, and even then, I would pity the poor fashion model that was stuck with her. Leave it to fate though that if you work at our zoo, you were going to have to be partnered with her at least once every two weeks whether you liked it or not. She’s your typical glamour girl wannabe, completely obsessed with her appearance and social status but lacking in respect, intelligence, and plain old common sense. She tries to make up for these flaws by having an overabundance of arrogance and vanity, as though world revolved around her. You could easily recognize her if you saw her at the zoo, for very few other staff members would have long, perfectly conditioned shining brown hair in a workplace that you were very likely to mess it up and get dirt all over yourself. If you saw someone walking around with expensive looking fashion boots in the middle of a muddy dirt path or hesitant to touch an animal lest she be contaminated with their cooties and possibly ruin her nails, you could probably safely assume that that was her. Probably.
On one particular work day at the zoo, Rebecca and I arrived at our break room at about same time for our lunch hour. The break room was just a tiny little room with only a single folding table, a refrigerator, and several storage bins of miscellaneous props piled up to the ceiling along the wall opposite to the door. There used to have been a tank with small beetles in it for the staff’s amusement, but the little critters managed to escape from their cage one year and mostly wound up dying inside of the ceiling light fixtures from the heat, so the white walls were always cast with the slightly disturbing shadows of dead bug corpses above us.
Rebecca went to the refrigerator and pulled out a small bottle of Dr Pepper before plopping down at the table, face looking red and flushed as if she’d been out in the sun a little too long for her comfort. Her eyebrows were pressed down into an expression of utter hatred, and her usual makeup looked like it might run down her face at any second, washed away from her own sweat. It’d been one of those extremely hot summer days when there’s a not a cloud in the sky and not a patch of shade anywhere. It’s days like these that I’m actually grateful to work with the Zoo Campers, because they at least have a good AC in the Education Building. Rebecca, on the other hand, had been given deer yard duty, and it looked like she had been roasted alive. She slouched down on the chair and slowly began to slowly remove her jewelry from her body, starting with her shining gold ring and bracelets before reaching up for her giant earrings, as though the weight from all of it was too much for her to bear. I loved seeing her like this, because I knew that it meant she was suffering in her own little world.
od…” she started to say. “This day has been so fucking… ugh. Did you hear what happened?”
I was only barely able to restrain myself from rolling my eyes. She was about to go on another temper tantrum like she always did, venting the woes of how miserable her day had been to whoever happened to be nearest to her. She just could not stand silence, and once she began a rant, she would not shut up. Her brain does not have that function installed, and in fact probably only knows the words for expressing disbelief about something like in the Princess Diaries: “Shut. Up. Are you serious?”. Alas, I couldn’t bring myself to be rude, so I shook my head no to answer her and allow her to continue while I bring my own lunch-bag out from the refrigerator and start on my meal.
“Well, I was working in the deeryard this morning, you know, doing business as usual. I personally hate working there but I have to go wherever they assign me, you know? Anyway, so I’m there in the yard, making sure the little brats don’t do anything stupid and telling them the rules of the yard, et cetera, when suddenly this woman walks up to me with a stroller.
“ ‘Um, excuse me, miss?’, she says to me. ‘I think one of your deer got out, it’s roaming around down below on the path.’
“Obviously, I’m all like, well fuck, you know? So I get up and start doing a quick count of how many deer are in the yard, but I count all ten of them there. I say to the woman ‘Are you sure you saw one down there? We’ve got all of ours in here right now.’
“But the woman is absolutely sure that there’s a deer down there, prancing around like fucking Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer or something, you know? So I ask Sydney to cover for me for a moment and I head out with the woman to where she says this deer is. She’s walking along with her stroller, looking all fucking proud of herself for being the person to take action and report the disturbance, while the little kid’s there sleeping in the cart and not even paying any attention to the animals. Like, what’s the point of taking the kid to the zoo if he’s sleeping the whole damn time, you know?
“Anyway, so she’s leading me along until we get to that small path right behind the sea lion’s pool, and that’s when I see it: a stray deer munching along the foliage. I don’t know how I can tell, but I immediately recognize that it’s not one of our deer. Probably the size. It must have actually come in from the outside to investigate all the smells or whatnot, you know?”
For the first time in her long whiny story, I raised my eyebrows and started to show a little interest. I had only been half-paying attention before, more interested in my ham sandwich and chips than her rambling. “Oh? What’d you do about it?”
“Well duh, I immediately ran over to one of our supervisors and told them about it. They all had a fit about what to do about it. I mean, we got all the capabilities to capture any animal that’s somehow escaped from its pen, tranquilizers and shit, you know? But what do we do about an animal that doesn’t belong to us? We can’t shoot it, can’t herd it into the deeryard without some health risk to our own animals, and can’t scare it off into a street busy with cars to return to where it came from. So we all end up having to ask people to clear the paths from the back of the zoo to the front, where we can scare it off back into the woods without it getting fucking turned into road kill. The keepers take these wooden blocks and start clapping them together to make a loud sound to scare the deer, and start trying to maneuver it to run down the paths we want it to. It wasn’t easy, either, because it kept finding ways around the fucking keepers and going in the wrong direction. Took over an hour for us to get the damn thing out of there again.”
I couldn’t help but smirk to myself as I realized that by “us”, she meant the keepers. She probably didn’t lift a single finger to actually help, she probably only watched the keepers do the work and stood by just to take credit for “participation”. I crammed the last of my sandwich into my mouth and washed it down with a bit of soda before smiling politely at her.
“Well, hopefully this afternoon will be easier for you.” I said to her with a tone of dismissal. She gave me a soft scorned look as she realized I had said that with no particular interest in how she felt about it. I quickly got up from my seat and tossed away the remains of my lunch before tipping my hat theatrically to her and departing, letting her sit there and silently cuss me out under her breath while she internal thought about how utterly “miserable” her day has been and waited for the next staff member to come along for her to tell her story to.
As I said, this is just part of a story I've been working on this semester. I'd really appreciate it if you guys could give me feedback on what you'd like to see improved or what more you'd like to see. This way I can work on it a little more and send a final final revision.