Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ode to a Pet Store

The other day, Toot and I were in a pet store spending too much money on too little dog food. Being there reminded me that years and years ago I worked at a "big box" pet store. They put me in the Aquatics department where I bagged fish, boxed up birds and kept the cages and tanks clean. It was a time of great joy, wearing a very attractive and flattering back belt and big money for very little work, appreciated and applauded by every customer that came in store. /sarcasm

But it was always interesting. Like, there was this one time...

-A customer wanted a cichlid fish. These fish are full of personality but they're also some of the meanest SOBs in the water. I climbed up the ladder to the tank, took my handy little fishing net and went ta fishing. I was chasing one particular fish around the tank when all of a sudden, he leaped (literally) out of the tank and slapped me right in the face before hitting the floor. Ker-SPLAT! Don't worry folks, he survived and I popped his little fishy smarty pants butt right back into the tank. He slaps me, then he don't get sold that day. In your face, fish!

$4.75 an Hour (What? I told you it was years ago.) Worker: 0
Smarty Pants Acrobatic Fish: 1

-Like most stores, this one featured Muzak. Working a full 40 hour work week, you're bound to hear the same songs over and over eventually. I still can't hear Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait" without thinking of dead fish, molting birds and 50 lb bags of dog food.

$4.75 an Hour Worker: 0
Dawson's Creek: 1

-This guy walked in one day and wanted to buy a goldfish. Selling goldfish was always a pain in the butt because most people don't realize that you can't just stick them in a bowl. They NEED a filter, folks! Anyhoo, he wasn't having any of my pet-righteous "save the goldfish" speech and haughtily informed me that he just needed the fish for one day as it was going to be a background prop for a commercial he was shooting. I then told him that not only would it be harmful for the fish to be put in a bowl but we didn't have a "buy a fish today, return it tomorrow" policy in place. He was shocked! Didn't I realize that my fish would be seen in a national commercial? Dude, it's not like you're going to add a tag that says, "Goldfish seen suffocating in the background is courtesy of Maggi". No dice, buddy. He got all huffy about how I was losing a sale AND there would be no fish from our store in his commercial.

$4.75 an Hour Worker: 1
Snooty Commercial Making Fish Killer: 0

-We had a couple of kissing fish in a tank together and one morning I came in and actually caught them kissing! It was the neatest thing! Nature at its finest, the true circle of the...wait a minute...they're not kissing...that one is eating the other one! *dry heave*

Grossed Out $4.75 an Hour Worker: 0
Dead Fish: 0
Live Fish Getting a Real Breakfast Instead of Fish Flakes: 1

-One day some customers asked to buy a parakeet. Oh crap. Okay, here's the thing. Trying to catch one specific bird (because they always want THAT bird) in an aviary full of birds trying to escape their prison is a pain in the butt. THEN you have to clip their wings. I always counted a "no bird sold" day as a win. So there I am, inside this aviary with my totally helpful bird catching net being swarmed by freaked out parakeets with these customers watching me through the glass. I FINALLY catch the stupid bird these people wanted and with a "in your face bird" look on my face, I take him to the back to clip his wings. The bird meekly hands me a wing to clip...NOT.

That little f$#%&^@ bites my hand and I yelled remember that scene in "A Christmas Story" where Ralphie says "fudge" only he didn't say "fudge" he said the "F dash dash dash" word? Well, that was me. Now I had to go back out there and face these customers (with children), apologize for the cussing AND convince them to buy this evil bird. Luckily they were cool about it.

$4.75 an Hour Worker: 0
Evil Bird: 1

-Here's how you clean the fish tanks at a big store with a ton of fish tanks: Hook up a hose to the sink, run out a huge line of this hose into the store, stick the end of it into the water and it works like a vacuum, sucking up all the crap (literally). Problem is, you can't take the fish out before you vacuum because out in the air they like, die and stuff. I hated vacuuming because I was always terrified that I would suck all the fish up in this thing. Which can't really happen because when you lift the hose out of the tank, it stops sucking and just spits whatever water is in there out back into the tank. Well guess what...

One day I'm merrily cleaning the tanks when one of the most expensive fish we had gets caught in my vacuum. It had never happened before and I was by myself because the store wasn't open yet and I just froze. I totally forgot about picking the hose up out of the water to spit the fish back out and could only watch as the fish got sucked down about a mile of hose and went to wherever fish go when they go down the sink. I like to think he made it to the ocean and found his father a la "Finding Nemo".

$4.75 an Hour Worker: 0
Innocent Fish Sent to the Lord Before His Time: 0

Sidenote: Did you know that "vacuum" is spelled with two u's? I didn't either!

In conclusion, $4.75 an Hour Worker: 0


  1. LOL! Thanks for the laugh :-) I've always wondered what it would be like to work at a pet store.

    I think we're about the same age cause I remember making about that much money back in the day at my part time job. :-)

  2. I was like the poor fish out of water - gasping for air while laughing my head off at your pet store memories. So funny!

  3. I completely agree with 100% of this post! It made me laugh I had to read it to the kids (who laughed weakly at me) They don't get it. I used to work at a smallish big box pet store also and loved it so much I'm thinking about opening my own pet store one day. thanks for the laugh!

  4. hehehehehehehe.... you crack me up!!! :):):):):)

    My turn....

    Almost two year old little girl named Julie (aka...ME!), and a VERY pregnant Mom ( MOM!) on bed rest.

    VERY pregnant Mom laying on the couch watching almost two year old little girl playing in the living room....(wait for it....)

    Almost two year old little girl decided to be just LIKE DADDY... and check out the BIG pretty fish tank on the other side of the living room.....

    (You see what is coming, right??)

    Wellllllll...almost two year old little girl walks over to the fish tank, reaches her hand in and grabs a gold fish... (most people are impressed at this point, because as you know, its NOT easy to catch a fish, let alone with a almost two year old little girls hand...just sayin'...she has skillz!) :)

    Ok... where was I????

    Oh yes! Almost two year old little girl reaches into fish tank and grabs a gold fish and...............

    Puts it up to her mouth and BITES THE HEAD OFF!!!!

    Yep! I did that!

    No judging, please! :)

    You NEVER saw my Mom jump sooooooooooo fast :)

    And for the record... I have neverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr liked fish since! NEVER... ever ever.... Red Lobster will never get a dime from me. period.

    Hope you enjoyed my little true story :):):):):):):):):):):):):)

  5. You know what they say about public decorum...observe it? Well, I didn't when reading this...laughing out loud in the coffee shop whilst having my morning cup of tea. You are so damn funny Maggi! :)

    I do have fish at home...goldfishes actually...Julie can't come over to play now for sure...she has a bad record! lol

  6. Maggie! I'm cracking up! One of my fave posts EVER! I'm doing my blog visiting rounds. I've been neglecting my favorite bloggies for awhile...shame on me! I hope you and the fam are well!

  7. ~ * ♥ * ~

    Cute story Maggi ~ you had me snickering in my seat. My day job was serving in a cafe and and seriously, it was no where near as *fun* as your job... :D

    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~

  8. I worked in Walgreens and sold prunes and laxatives to cranky old people with coupons. How does that compare daaahling?
    I assure you, it was also at minimum wage.
    Thank god those days are behind me. I love being a housewife, and the idea of working now makes me shudder LOL!
    *kisses* HH

  9. hehe... i used to work at a pet shop, too. the fishy people had to use nets to scoop out the fish and put them in a "holding tank" while vacuuming the gunky tank. it seemed to take them FOR-EV-ER, but this way, nobody got sucked up. even still, i think being relocated and then put back into the clean tank was prolly shocking to their fishy bodies (and minds?)

    oh well.

    sucks to be a fish :(

  10. Maggie, I am laughing so hard - I think my chandelier is shaking!:-))))) You have no idea how much I missed your Blog and how happy I am to be able to read it and enjoy it again. I told you before and I will tell again: I think you need to write a book! I will be the first one to buy it. Wishing you beautiful September weekend!:-)

  11. ROTFLMFAO!!!!!!!!! You kill me!!! I am SO glad I logged on today (it's rare these days when i do) and came here! You made my day! love ya! xoxo

  12. Thanks for the great laugh! I think everyone has at least one minimum wage job that they could probably use therapy for or develop a stand up career with.

    I did laugh harder with the idiot commercial guy, not just because of his ineptitude. Nope. Also because I took my oldest when she was little to buy a goldfish for her room, she really REALLY wanted one. I said fine because we had an old tank with a filter because of our beta we had years ago. SO I go to the store and we are looking at fishies.
    This is exciting.... I get person working fish area and proceed to be lectured about how it would be irresponsible to buy one. My daughter was going to kill it. It wasn't Dorothy from Elmo it was a real fish. I didn't have the right tank, and on and on she went. I stood there blinking and said "I have a tank with a filter. Also a dog, two cats, a leopard gecko and toads. Think we can handle a fish." I have never received such a sincere apology in my life.
    After her grilling me before I could speak I did think to myself I can be sure I will pass any background check now. Good times...

  13. I love this post :-) And I can totally identify with the Muzak bit!! My current job is in a shop and we have the same music on a loop EACH DAY.....the horros we hear :-P

  14. Retail hell! Gotta love it! Thanks for sharing a laugh! At my new job (although I didn't witness this and wish I had), a woman in a motorized wheelchair was caught eating two small bottles of baby powder. Yes, baby powder. I really have no words...

  15. Dear, darling Maggi. This is WHY I love your blog.