I used to work at a pet store. I won’t say which one since I guess I signed some piece of paper when I was hired saying that I would never reveal any of the store secrets. I guess they were afraid that the other pet stores would learn about the fact that we fed the fish twice a day and put certain vital nutrients into the water.
Anyway, I have to say that the experience of being the fish man at the pet store gave me some rather bizarre insights into the variety of people that are in the world. Take, for example, the Molly Lady. I haven’t the slightest idea what her problem was, but this lady would come in or call the store at least once a week to ask me the exact same question.
She would ask, "I have some mollies that just had babies. What should I do with the babies?”
At first I told her to separate the babies so that the bigger fish wouldn’t eat or pick on them. But after this same woman asked the same question nearly five thousand times, I got a little frustrated. I finally started to change my advice. One week I would tell her to just leave them with the other fish, and the next week I would tell her to buy a fifty-five gallon tank for the baby fish—they need a lot of room, I said. The woman never once paused and wondered that I was starting to give contradictory advice.
I came to find after months of being the fish man that a lot of people can be pretty annoying if you are an associate in a store. One lady told me how horrible our fish were, how sickly and poorly kept they were. She went on and on, all the while directing me to fish out dozens of fish for her. She went ahead and spent over $75 on fish.
I can’t tell you how often a family would walk in and the father would give all kinds of information to his wide-eyed children and easily impressed wife about the compatibility of various fish or their certain characteristics. According to many of these men, guppies can breed with tetras, and male sword-tails can impregnate themselves. I kept quiet, since it wouldn’t have been my place to set the facts straight.
One curiosity was The Fish Regular. Now most of us can think of regulars at a bar or coffee shop, but it really seems a little odd that there are fish regulars. There were people who would come in every day to buy another fish. They were usually the ones who were the most particular about which fish in the tank I should catch. I never really understood these people, and I was led to believe that they had some genetic disorder that compelled them to visit me every day.
The kids who came in with $1 to buy a few feeder fish were a bit of a pain. These kids would search through a tank that had a thousand chaotically swerving fish to pick out their favorite five. After ten to twenty minutes of careful consideration they had their five nailed down, and they would soon expect me to net those specific ones. Needless to say, I never really liked these kids. Thank goodness our store didn’t carry brine shrimp!
I could go on and on about those eight months of my life spent as a fish man. Unfortunately I have too many bitter things to say about the experience. One thing I should note about it, though, is that of all my hard feelings about the time there, none of them come from the fish or any other non-human creature. I was probably never meant to work in a store, but a lot of my feelings had to do with one simple fact: too many people need to get a life!
Also read about my experience with the pet store plan-o-gram.