So where I work’s ain’t exactly a zoo but it ain’t exactly not a zoo, if you catch my drift. It’s called the Norman Parker Wildlife Experience because that’s exactly what it is—an experience. People come along and get to see all sortsa critters they’d not normally see in their day-to-day.
We got leopards and zebras and even a mean old elephant they call Frank that fell off the back of a circus wagon or something. There’s all sorts of stories about Frank, like they say he’s at least one-hundred years old, but I don’t believe it. We also have an aviary, an aquarium and a reptile house and though I’m not much of a fan of those snakes I wouldn’t mind them wrapped around my feet as a fancy pair o’ shoes.
All sortsa staff work here. We’ve got veternarians and pooper-scoopers and regular janitors and people that work the food stalls. There’s tour guides and medical workers and a marketing ideas man called Josh, whose I don’t like. And, of course, there’s me, who you might just say has the most important job of all.
Myself, Sheryl Monroe, Miss Algonquin 1977 and I’ve still got the pictures to prove it! I work at the front desk of the Norman Parker Wildlife Experience Gift Shop and let me tell you why exactly it’s the most important job of all: up to 80% of the park’s profits come from the gift shop and our collection of high-quality, internationally manufactured goods.
We’ve got everything from plush little leopards to t-shirts with ol’ Frank on them and every day I gets to stand behind a semi-circular desk, checking the bounce of my perm with my fingertips and grinnin’ and greetin’ everyone who comes through those glass doors on their way outta the park. Y’see, you can’t leave the park without passing through the gift shop and I makes darn sure that nobody leaves without buying at least a little somethin’.
Directly behind my desk is cylindrical aquarium tank filled with fishes; sunfish and flower fish and rainbow fish and coral fish and other fish I don’t even know the names of. When I’m standin’ there, right in the centre of my desk space and people come up to buy things I just know them’s fish are surrounding me like an underwater halo, like I’m queen of the fishes or somethin’ and that’s just fine by me.
But then, not two weeks past, Benji comes storming in wearing his khakis and tells me that they are removing the fish. Benji’s the great grandson of Norman Parker, so he feels like he owns the place, but in actuality I’ve read the documents and know that he only owns one-third of 48%.
“My fishies,” I lamented.
“They’ll be at the Underwater Odyssey,” Benji tells me. “We have to move them so they don’t get eaten.”
“Get eaten?!” why I’d never heard such a foolish thing (and Benji says a lot of foolish things). Now, I might not be the sharpest axe in the woodsman’s shed, but even I know that you can’t just go eatin’ any random rainbow-coloured fish without runnin’ a serious risk of makin’ yourself sick and I don’t just mean with diarrhea.
“Anyway,” Benji says. “You’ll have a new friend soon, Sheryl. I think you’ll like him.”