Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Fish Named Hitler

I wake up most days and suffer what I like to call "a full body sigh". I am acutely aware that my day is going to slowly drag on, each moment as inconsequential as the last. I like to convince myself that my day job is a cover for my secret life as a highly important, smart, and fit super spy. Similar to the show "Chuck", but subtract the geeky computer shit and add a lot of times getting blamed for genociding tanks of fish.

The alarm wakes me up around 7:45 and my eyeballs protest in two ways: one, that I've only slept 5 hours and two, because I accidentally bought waterproof mascara and am too lazy to figure out how it comes off, adding a new, chunky coat each morning after scraping a lot of it out of my eyes. For some reason, my dreams are always SUPER vivid and I always remember them. Like, every fucking detail. Which is unsettling in so many ways... like when I have sex dreams about disgusting people and/or women,  or disgruntled celebrities are trying to steal my dog in the midst of the apocalypse, and for some reason keep calling him Radar

The drive to work is a habitual silence between the hubby and I, filled with deep sighs and melancholy thoughts, dreaming of days when I was thin and pretty and romping through Central America doing drugs and men with accents.  I pretend that my coffee is really coffee, and not just an elaborate excuse to drink fancy creamers named after candy bars.

The pet shop sits sleepily along the busy high way, behind a second hand shop that sells shitty furniture at absurd prices. I unlock the doors and do a shuffle-sprint to turn off the alarm. Not because I'm worried about the alarm going off, but because as long as the alarm is turned on, the security company can hear inside the store. I was told this after about a week of arming and disarming the thing. When left alone, I talk to myself, like, A LOT. I do not know what exactly I could have said during that week, but I am sure that whoever was listening was disgusted and ashamed of the human race.

So for the first ten minutes or so, I am the dealer of death. The tanks of fish at the store are notorious for having small aquarium heaters short out in the middle of the night and electrocute or cook the fish. It's just sort of a toss up of horrible ways to die for them. It's either that or get sucked into the filters that are way too strong for the size tank they're in.  I unlock the bathroom door and prepare the toilet for the onslaught of bloated corpses. Whatever wholesale fish distributor we use also harbors and sends like, really sick fish.  Like grossly sick. Fungal, bacterial disease... fin rot, bloody gills and open sores.  Sometimes even the whites of their eyes are bloody. 

It's unbelievably horrific. 

The tanks are also incredibly old, one hundred percent mistreated... and put in odd locations. The tanks labeled, "TANK IS AGGRESSIVE!!!" are sitting on the floor, with no lids. One time we got a freshwater eel, and it committed a beautiful suicide from a tank about 5 feet off the ground. This morning, the tank containing the asshole koi and fucking creepy "celestial goldfish" (worth a google) were all floating upside down or laying at the bottom with their eyes and guts eaten out. Oh by the way, they definitely cannibalize each other. So when the goldfish get sucked into the filter, they are stuck, alive and motionless while the rest of them eat their eyes first, and keep ravaging until finally there's just a tiny skeleton just sort of sadly frozen in time. 

I overheard my boss saying, "Some kid must have soaped the tank." This is a thing! If even a drop of soap lands in the water, the tank will die. But like, it's not instant and usually happens overnight. By the time we get to them their eyes are a cloudy bluish, and it stinks a little.

So the doors open and the smiles go on and I go about my day sleep walking through the bullshit. It's kind of like being around the stupidest, meanest people on Earth that also don't know very much about social interaction and don't bathe "that often".  In their daily lives they probably don't have an outlet for their anger and so they take it out on the understandably, VERY uncaring employees. Maybe they have a cheating wife, or a boss that harasses them sexually, I don't know. All I do know is that my face, to many, says, "treat me like I'm garbage, I won't fight back."

So we employees wander throughout the windowless cave from anywhere between 6-10 hours, being assaulted with verbal abuse, or "jokes", as the old men would say. I don't remember how it began,  but one day an employee casually said to me, "Hey, have you seen the fish that looks like Hitler?"

"WHAT?!" I say, at an incredibly inappropriate volume.

How is this just being told to me now???? I think, as drop the purchase I'm ringing up and sprint towards the goldfish tank. I spend five whole minutes scanning through the relatively similar looking goldfish before spotting him. Oddly motionless, a tiny, delicate black mustache graces his weird, top goldfish lip. I gasp in awe, the edges of my vision erupting in sparkles. I am beyond over stimulated as I attempt to forever brand this moment into my memory. So I may tell tales of my glorious Adolph Fishler.

A blip of excitement on my boring days, Hitler survives every day through cunning and will. He evades the swoops of the moldy fish net like a tiny, fish ninja. I smile through the impatient stares and horrible men asking, "Is your shirt made of felt? It is now!" *Reaches to feel shirt* (Maggie evades this by exhibiting the grace and humility of a very scared, averagely out of shape, and ungracefully aging female who's afraid to say no and also confrontation, moving out of the way by a few inches, folding arms, and erupting in nervous laughter.) Simply knowing that my Fish Hitler exists is enough to keep my very irrational brain thoughts from tumbling out of my mouth. Fuck you, old man. I hope you get hit by a car and just as you're getting loaded into an ambulance, your wife calls you to tell you she has old lady crabs. 

Myself and Hitler share an odd camaraderie. We both dream of a better life and hate our current situation. Surrounded by buffoons, we keep swimming knowing that this won't be it, that there must be more than this awful fishbowl. I think probably the only difference is that while I may rise from the situation and go on to make more privileged, bad decisions, I also probably won't be one day bought and fed to turtles.