Searching Around The World For Them

, , , | Right | January 12, 2020

(I work retail at a major US zoo. It’s worth noting that it’s a really large zoo and it takes a while to get from one area to another. On this particular day, I am working the rentals booth where guests can rent strollers, wheelchairs, or electric scooters. Whenever a guest rents one of our electric scooters, we give them a phone number to call if they have any issues with it so that we can bring them a new one. I have just finished my break and walked back into the booth.)

Coworker: “Hey, I had a call a few minutes ago about a scooter. They said it’s not dead, but it’s running slowly. They’re in Polar, but right as they called I got a long line and I haven’t had a chance to call someone to go run them a new one.”

Me: “Well, it’s time for your break. Do you want to run the scooter out and then go on break or have me go do it and wait to take your break?”

Coworker: “You go ahead and run it; I’ll be fine waiting.”

(I hop on one of our remaining scooters and begin driving towards Polar, which is a trek away from the front entrance. I finally get there and drive all around Polar looking for a guest on a scooter. After going all around the region and finding no one, I give up and drive back. It takes me several more minutes to get back to the front of the zoo where Rentals is located.)

Me: “I searched all over Polar and couldn’t find her.”

Coworker: “She called back after you left and said she moved to Africa. I tried finding a way to get a hold of you.”

(I groan because Africa is even farther in the same direction I had just been.)

Me: “Well, you need to take your break. You go, and I’ll call someone to hold down the fort while I go back out there.”

(He leaves and a couple of minutes later I get a second coworker to come in from another shop. I thank him for his help and then grab another scooter to leave again. In order to get to Africa in our zoo, you have to go through the North American region. North America is set up in a loop so there are two paths you can choose to take to go through it. I had already taken the right-side path to get to Polar, so I decide to take the left path this time. After driving a few more minutes I pass by a guest on a rented scooter.)

Guest: “Are you the one bringing the replacement scooter?”

Me: “Yes, are you the one who called from Africa?”

(It turns out she is. Luckily for her, I chose the path through North American that she was coming down. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have run into her and I would’ve spent who knows how long driving around Africa, which is one of our largest regions, trying to find her until someone could get a hold of me to tell me she wasn’t there. When I get back to Rentals the coworker who was helping me is seething.)

Coworker #2: “Did you find her?”

Me: “Yeah, luckily, I chose the right path through North America. Otherwise, I never would have known she’d left Africa.”

Coworker: “Shortly after you left, she called here and chewed me out, complaining about how long it was taking to get her replacement and how she was moving again. I tried to get her to understand that if she didn’t stay in one place we wouldn’t be able to find her.”

(I get that the guest didn’t want to waste her time at the zoo just staying in one place, but if she had just been a little patient and stayed in Polar to begin with, I could have gotten her replacement to her at least thirty minutes sooner.)

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Her Brain Cells Are Extinct

, , , | Right | January 8, 2020

(I work at a zoo, specifically running an “encounter” where guests can feed the giraffes. It’s a very common type of attraction at various zoos throughout the country. A young woman comes up to me with a question.)

Guest: “Hi. So, you know those signs on the exhibits saying whether the animal is endangered or not?”

Me: “Yes?”

Guest: “Where is the one for the giraffes?”

Me: “It’s down on the other side of the exhibit. It’s that sign there, but I can just tell you if you’d like.”

Guest: “Oh, no, thank you. I just need a picture of the sign. My best friend thinks giraffes are extinct.”

Me: “You could probably take a picture of yourself with the actual giraffes, too, I suppose.”

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Don’t Have A Cow, Mom!

, , , , | Related | November 19, 2019

(My middle school participates in a program that involves students helping out at a function for younger kids. I’m assigned to help in the petting zoo, which I’m really excited about since I love animals. I’m telling my mom about it afterward.)

Me: “They had a bunch of bunnies and a cranky alpaca. And there was this little calf named Valentine. He was so cute! He even sucked on my fingers!”

Mom: “Wait, what?”

Me: “Cows don’t have top teeth so he couldn’t bite me; he just sniffed at my fingers and then he started sucking. I swear I just melted. It was so cute!”

Mom: “That’s disgusting.”

Me: “It was adorable!”

(I still feel happy when I remember that little cow trusting me enough to suck on my fingers.)

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“Able” To Bring Her Down

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 15, 2019

(My uncle is considered by the rest of my family to be a “child-whisperer” because he can easily manage five children at a time by himself. He can take five of us — his kids and my siblings and our other cousins — on outings and manage to keep us all safe while we have fun. We all love him because he is very easygoing and patient but also can be silly with us. We go to the zoo when I am nine, with my ten-year-old and four-year-old cousins — his son and daughter — and twin six-year-old cousins — his nieces. We overhear two old ladies speaking. One of them points at my six-year-old cousin who has one leg.)

Rude Old Lady: “It is fitting that they brought that freak to a zoo.” 

(Her companion laughs. My uncle overhears this comment, as does my cousin, who starts crying. While her twin and the rest of us are attempting to cheer her up, my uncle walks over to the ladies, smiling.)

Uncle: *in a jovial sort of way* “Hello. Would you kindly repeat what you said?” 

(One of the women looks apprehensive, but the other doubles down on what she said before.)

Rude Old Lady: “I said that it is fitting that you brought your freaks to the zoo.”

Uncle: “Freaks? That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?” 

Rude Old Lady: “No, it’s accurate. You’ve got two kids wearing glasses — that ought to be child abuse, especially when you’re doing it to a little girl — and a kid with one leg. Plus, that kid has another kid who looks just like her except she’s whole.”

Uncle: “Oh, the twins? They don’t look that similar. For a start, she has blonde hair and she has black hair. I might consider it child abuse to not let children wear glasses, regardless of gender.” 

(So far, my uncle has been very conversational in tone. Now, he spreads his arms out like he’s making a grand speech and starts speaking loudly. The other people near the bear exhibit — and even the bears themselves, probably — are listening now.)

Uncle: “Understand this, O ableist hag! I do not appreciate you calling my family freaks, O she-who-made-a-kid-on-crutches-cry! I have nothing more to say to you, O demon-in-a-woman’s-body! Begone, I say!” 

(While my amputee cousin starts laughing at the absurdity of the statement, the rest of us cheer, and the woman, publically humiliated and shamed, stalks off, her companion saying, “Well, you were a bit rude, don’t you think?” to her on the way out. I bring this up now, years later, only because while visiting our grandmother during the summer, the oldest of my cousins and I go to the grocery store. My cousin nudges me in the ribs and says:)

Cousin: *just loudly enough for her to hear* “Hey, it’s the demon in a woman’s body!” 

(She scowled at us and kicked in our general direction before walking away.)

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Lions And Tigers And Tired Moms, Oh My!

, , , , , | Related | June 21, 2019

(I am at the zoo with my family looking at the tigers. The lions are on the other side of the zoo. A woman in her 20s walks up holding an 18-month- to two-year-old child.)

Woman: “Look, honey! See the lions?”

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