Welcome To Idiotshire, Population: Me

, , , , , , , | Working | January 19, 2021

The animal rescue/sanctuary charity I volunteer with also serves as the helpline for a national bird of prey charity. We only have the resources to go to local cases but have a directory of rehabilitators across the UK so we can put callers in contact with someone close to them. For those unfamiliar with the UK’s counties, many are named after the most important city in them — Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, etc.

In this instance, I’m helping a caller who came across a wounded peregrine falcon and I have reached the stage of finding someone who can help them.

Me: “All right, let’s see if we can find anyone close by. Whereabouts are you?”

Caller: “I’m in Cambridge.”

Since this is one such city as I mentioned before, this would be enough for most people to go on. But in this case, my brain completely fails me and I respond before I can stop myself.

Me: “Right. My geography’s not very good; what county is that?”

There’s a slight pause, just long enough for it to sink in.

Caller: “Cambridgeshire.”

Unsurprisingly, the feeling of idiocy strikes me hard as I realise how incompetent I sound and I try to think of something to say to get things back on track.

Me: “I rest my case.”

For what it’s worth, that did get a chuckle out of her and helped lighten the mood of an otherwise serious call. Mercifully, I was able to find a rescue center close by that the caller could take the bird to for treatment, without even forgetting the layout of my own country again!

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You Run Into Some Real Animals At The Zoo

, , , , , | Friendly | November 20, 2020

My family rents a large house for a week on Cape Cod to celebrate my grandfather’s seventy-fifth birthday. There are about fourteen of us staying here. I, as the oldest of my grandfather’s grandchildren by far, am the one looking after my younger cousins the most, but I don’t really mind, since most of the kids pair up quite nicely age-wise with one of their cousins.

One day, as a day trip, I take my aunt’s new ten-year-old stepson — [Cousin #1] — and my seven-year-old cousin — [Cousin #2] — to the zoo, which is about an hour away. They are surprisingly well-behaved so the drives there and back are quite uneventful.

It is worth noting here that [Cousin #2] was born with several disabilities, including severe lazy eye, missing fingers, and limited use of one leg. She cannot take more than a few steps at a time and usually prefers to use forearm crutches, as she was on that day.

We get to the zoo and spend most of the day there. We pick up some cheeseburgers from a drive-thru on the way to eat at lunch. We sit down in a quiet area away from the crowds to eat lunch.

As we are eating, an old lady who is there with what appear to be her toddler grandchildren walks over to us. She begins talking to [Cousin #2], saying quite rude things about how little children shouldn’t be wearing glasses, how her hair is too long to be becoming for a little girl, and how her very pale complexion indicates she ought to go outside more.

Then, she notices my cousin’s crutches, which she has propped up against the bench right next to her, and the obvious brace on her leg.

Woman: “You should stop eating that burger, dearie. Otherwise, you’ll be too heavy to use your crutches.”

Perhaps it is the really calm way in which she says it, or perhaps it’s that [Cousin #2] is really absent-minded, but she very politely and enthusiastically says:

Cousin #2: “Actually, I have a really high metabolism. That means that I eat a lot of food just to keep my body warm. My mom says that when I become a teenager I’ll probably be eating double what she eats.”

The woman looks taken aback, which the kids seem to interpret as confusion.

Cousin #1: “No, metabolism is a real thing. My dad says it’s not fair because I eat like two teenage boys and never gain weight and he eats like a normal man and is kinda fat.”

The woman doesn’t seem to have noticed [Cousin #1] up until this point. She looks at him, a short, skinny black kid, and then at [Cousin #2] and me, very pale kids with similar shades of blond hair and rather similar faces. About the only thing we have in common appearance-wise with [Cousin #1] is that his glasses looked quite similar to [Cousin #2]’s. The old woman turns to [Cousin #1].

Woman: “Are you all right, dearie? Have you been kidnapped by this man? I’ll call for help, shall I?”

Cousin #1: “No, I’m their step-cousin. My dad married their aunt.”

[Cousin #2] raises her hand, which is missing a few fingers and has a rather unconventional shape, and points at [Cousin #1].

Cousin #2: “Yeah, he’s our step-cousin, but we usually call him just our cousin because…”

She trailed off as she saw the old woman’s eyes grow wide at the sight of my cousin’s hand. The old woman picked up the toddlers and walked off in a hurry. That did hurt my cousin a bit, but after some ice cream, she seemed to have gotten over it.

Indeed, that evening after dinner, she confided in me that she had a new idea for her Halloween costume. “I’m gonna be a pirate,” she said, “because if my normal hand scares adults away already, then if I get a hook hand, I can scare all the adults! Then, my friends and I will get all the candy!” She then attempted her scariest evil laugh, which would have been more threatening if she weren’t wearing glasses, her mouth had all its teeth in it, and she wasn’t giggling while she did it.

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“My Little Pony” Has Some Explaining To Do

, , , , , | Right | November 6, 2020

I work at a kid-oriented barn and petting zoo that offers pony rides.

I am leading a pony named Peaches. Peaches is palomino, which is yellow. I bring Peaches to the lineup of kids waiting for a ride and help the kid riding her down.

The next girl comes up. She doesn’t seem at all frightened of Peaches. Her father lifts her onto the saddle. When they are ready, I begin to lead them around the small fenced-in circle we have set up. Her dad is following beside us to make sure the girl doesn’t fall.

I take about five steps and everything is fine… until this girl starts SCREAMING bloody murder. Peaches is a skittish pony, so I immediately grab her halter and have the dad take the girl before anyone gets hurt.

Dad is holding the girl and she is crying. I think perhaps she got stung by a hornet or pinched by the saddle.

Dad: “What went wrong?”

The little girl looks at him, then me, and then Peaches, and she says, with a completely straight face:

Little Girl: “I won’t ride it! Ponies are supposed to be pink!

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Mother Versus Nature

, , , , | Right | September 1, 2020

I am a zookeeper and am making my way from one enclosure to another. As I walk past the elephants, I see an angry-looking mother dragging her poor daughter behind her. She sees me, realizes I work here, and makes a beeline for me.

Mother: “You! How dare you?!”

Me: “How can I help you, ma’am?”

Mother: “Do you abuse your animals?!”

Me: “Not at all, ma’am! We here at [Zoo] are proud of the quality of care we provide all of our animals!”

Mother: “Then why do you let the elephants do that in front of the children?!”

She points furiously while blocking the view of her scared-looking daughter using her coat. I can see straight away what she’s referring to. One of our elephants is the alpha male of his family, and this afternoon he is particularly… aroused.

Me: “Well, ma’am. That’s nature. Nothing we can do about that.”

Mother: “It’s obscene! How can you let him parade… that… in front of children?!”

Me: “Ma’am, this may be a zoo but these are still wild animals, and they will do what animals do. If you’re not ready to have that discussion with your child then you definitely shouldn’t take her to see the Bonobos!”

Bonobos are a type of ape who… well… do it a lot!

Mother: “It should be your responsibility to ensure the zoo is a family-friendly place to take my child! I demand to speak to your manager!”

Yes, she went there. The manager!

Me: “Ma’am, the manager of this zoo has no more control over the elephant and his member than I do. What did you expect him to be able to do?!”

Mother: “Then your elephant is a pervert and needs to be locked away! You must have abused him to make him that way! I will be writing to the paper about this!”

And with that, she stormed off toward the exit, shielding her daughter from the dangers of nature the entire way. We never did see the massive exposé in the paper about how our zoo animals had healthy sex drives, but then again, we didn’t check the joke section.

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Crocodile Denial, Part 2

, , , , , | Right | August 13, 2020

I work as a tour guide at a wildlife park. Today, I am showing a tour group of senior high school and college students from the US around our wildlife park. We arrive at one of the saltwater crocodiles, which are bigger and more dangerous than alligators. This one is five metres long and weighs nearly a metric tonne, and he is on the bank with only his tail in the water.

We are standing on a raised platform looking down at him. I finish my talk about crocodiles.

Me: “Does anyone have any questions?”

Tourist: “How do you make the crocodile do tricks?”

Me: *Pause* “I do not make him do tricks.”

Tourist: “But he’s just sitting there.”

Me: “Yes, crocodiles save their energy for when they need it. See how he’s watching us? He won’t move unless he decides it’s worth the effort.”

Tourist: “You should poke him.”

Me: “I’m not going to poke him.”

Tourist: “C’mon, he won’t move, I bet.”

Me: “He absolutely will move; he is very territorial. We do not enter his pen without a lot of precautions; he can attack very quickly.”

Tourist: “But he looks so lazy.”

Me: “Again, because he is saving his energy.”

Tourist: “I’m going to jump in there.”

The tourist goes to swing his foot up over the railing. Whether or not he’s joking doesn’t matter; I pull him back from the barrier.

Me: “Absolutely do not do that. You will die. And I will not be going in to save you.”

Tourist: “You won’t?”

Me: “No.”

He finally moved on after that.

Crocodile Denial

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