Their Reaction Was Gold(fish)

, , , , , | Working | August 2, 2019

(I work in the office of a multinational company that has a pet goldfish. Whenever coworkers clean the tank, I just walk away, because I am honestly horrified by how they treat that poor fish. They are the kind of people that are convinced they know what they are doing but are horrible at it. Going to a manager is useless, because they think I am overreacting. Besides, it is “just a fish.”)

Coworker #1: “Hey, I’m tired of cleaning that tank.”

Coworker #2: “Yeah, it’s always such a hassle, grabbing that fish.”

(Yes, they grab him with their hands and then toss him in a bucket with water.)

Coworker #1: “Not to mention all that cleaning of the pebbles with dishwasher soap… How about we flush that thing?”

(I am terrible at reading people when it comes to joking. I can be fooled easily and believe whatever people tell me. Yes, I know I am pretty gullible; I do my best, but I’m in my mid-30s and still have this issue. I also often take things literally.)

Me: *thinking they are joking* “Ha! That fish is so big, he would clog up the sewer!”

Coworker #1: “You know, you’re right. Let’s toss him into the canal.”

Coworker #2: “How about the office garden? I saw a heron yesterday; I bet he’d love a goldfish for lunch!”

Me: *realizing they are not joking* “Oh, well, if you are serious about this, I could take him in?”

(I am not looking for a pet, but I don’t want this fish to die, especially not because of these two. I used to have an aquarium as a kid and I still have everything from back then.)

Coworker #2: “Oh, you can’t! It’s not our fish!”

Coworker #1: “Yeah, he was bought especially for [CEO]. We promised we would take care of him.”

Coworker #2: “But, if he says it’s okay…”

Coworker #1: “Yeah, you can always ask him!”

(They walk away, giggling. Adult women, giggling like teenagers. However, I don’t catch their actual motive: setting me up to fail and get upset about that “poor little fish” — which was huge, by the way. All I hear is that I just have to ask the CEO. The CEO is the one who has appeared on TV, has expensive clothes, cars, etc., and is spoken to with the utmost respect by everyone. You do not just barge into his office. You cannot reach him without an appointment through the secretary of his secretary — well, that last part is an exaggeration — unless you are me, apparently. I just open my business email, open the address book, look up his name, and send him an email.)

Me: “Hello, Mr. [CEO]. I work at [Department] and we are taking care of the fish that once belonged to you. My coworkers no longer wish to take care of him and I wonder if I could adopt him. I am awaiting your reply.”

(About half an hour later:)

CEO: “Hello, [My Name]. Sure, you can have him. To be honest, I thought he was already long gone. Take good care of him!”

(When I tell my coworkers, blissfully unaware of their scheme, their jaws drop and they can’t believe I actually emailed the CEO! Within the day, I am known as the girl who “just emailed the CEO about a fish.” They then joke that he will probably die very soon, as goldfish only live a few years and he is probably already three or four years old. However, when my mom picks me and my new pet up — I needed safe transportation last-minute — she says:)

Mom: “That’s the fish?! Sweetie, that type of goldfish can live up to 20! Those coworkers of yours have no idea what they were talking about!”

(So, that’s how I got my goldfish and now, about ten years later, I still have him. I even got him a bigger tank this year and my husband adores him!)

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