Black Friday at the Pet Store



            From 9 AM to 10 PM – an extra whole two hours – the pet store was buzzing. It wasn’t the animals making the noise, however; it was the customers.  They crowded each other in the aisles – humming Christmas carols, chattering amongst themselves, and, of course, picking up items off the shelves and setting them down where they didn’t belong.

            The ferrets lay dead in their cage for most of the day, but when they did come alive they managed to tear the newspaper on the bottom of the cage to shreds, spill the water dish, knock the litter out of the litter pan, and tip over the food dish, it seemed as though they could destroy something that took fifteen minutes to set up in a mere fifteen seconds.

            The filters on the fish tanks hummed and the vent in the bird room zoomed. The Christmas lights played music that could only be heard if you were looking at the iguanas or anoles. The photo booth outside talked to customers as they entered and exited the store, begging them to have their picture not taken, but drawn.

            The snakes slithered beneath their bedding, coiling up whenever an unwatched child or an illiterate adult ignored the sign and tapped furiously on the glass.  The frogs stuck to the glass like suction cups, never moving.  The bearded dragons were crawling on top of each other, trying to get just a little bit closer to the heating lamp than the others.  The anoles were trying to figure out how to get out of their tank.  The scorpions were hidden under a rock and branch.  And in the middle of a large salad dish sat a tortoise that was enjoying finally having the tank to itself.

            The customers, unlike the laid-back animals, were far too busy to be polite.  They had places to go, people to see… stupid questions to ask.  The employees spent the entire day arguing with people who wanted to buy a turtle to live in their bathtub, telling people who couldn’t read the signs not to tap on the glass, and receiving complaints because the owners didn’t know animals as well as they should.

            The gate closed the second the last customer left.  The vacuum ran and the lights went out, signaling the end of a $1,500 day that was sure to make the dollar signs in the eyes of the money-hungry owners spin.

Copyright (c) 2001 Jessica Carroll. All rights reserved.

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