Life Among the Pinheads

I am surrounded by pinheads. Pinhead crickets, pinhead coworkers, pinhead customers. Okay, fine, be picky. Not surrounded totally. The four people (counting Debbie!) with whom I spend most of my day are not pinheads. And if the store were totally filled with pinhead crickets, the floor would get messy, not to mention how crunchy each and every step would be. But pinheads definitely abound.

This particular story gets a little complicated. See, we had eight ferrets. Weasels. Cats-on-speed. Whatever. Eight slinky, biting, clawing, stinking mustelids, getting bigger by the minute, living in a glass tank roughly thirty inches cubed. The Office had sent email, asking did we need any more. Jeremy rolled his eyes. Sighed. And politely replied, no, no more ferrets. Please.

Then, of course, The Office sent us ten more. Of fucking course. Just like they do every fucking time they ask if we need more ferrets....

We had to catch all the squealing, peeing-like-firehoses guinea pigs, shove them into another cage, and put the ten new, ultra-petite weasels into the guinea pig cube, cuz there was no way on this or any other planet we could have put them in with the honking-big weasels.

The injustice, indeed, the incredible stupidity of the entire business pushed my temper over the edge. Just to remind you (or to tell you flat out, if you haven't twigged to this yet) -- I don't work in the pet store for the fortune I'll never make here. I work in the pet store because I genuinely care about animals, and I'm fighting a sort of fifth-column action on their behalf. The denizens of The Office seems not only to be out of touch with reality on a cosmic scale, but totally incapable of ethical or even sensible decisions. Sending us an additional ten ferrets, when the market for ferrets was clearly down and we had told them we didn't have room for more, is a classic example of The Office's lack of gray matter.


As it happens, mere minutes after the arrival of the severely-stressed and incredibly weak baby ferrets, the memory of whose overall condition still sickens me, one of our regulars arrived, asking for pinheads. I replied, "You want the cricket kind, or the kind in The Office?" She laughed, asked for an explanation, I explained, and she asked for a Customer Comment Card. Which, of course, we don't have. No way in hell would The Office really want to know what their customers think! The whole Pinhead Thing has become a sort of byword for us, now. And we both laugh, even though we know it's not really all that funny.

Taking their cue from The Office, most of the "associates" are pinheads, too. For pity's sake, how many times should anyone have to tell a boy -- already in high school, supposedly -- not to fill the snakes' water bowls to the very top? I even explained, many times, that the snakes like to get in and soak. Physics takes over from biology, here. Water displacement. Not that I could ever use a polysyllabic when speaking ever-so-slowly to these children.... It boils down to, "Too much water, bowl too full, snake gets in, water goes out, aspen gets wet, snake gets sick." How many times should anyone have to tell these children, "Take out the iguanas' food bowl every night. We're not trying to raise fruit flies here, okay?" How many times should anyone have to remind them, "Please don't pour fresh bird seed in on top of the shit-covered bird seed already in the bowls. It's royally disgusting and it's hideously unhealthy for the birds." Ask them to dust, and they look at you like you've grown an extra arm out the center of your chest, a la Zaphod Beeblebrox. Tell them to clean a cage, and suddenly, nobody's home under the gel-spiked hair. A simple request that they put away the dog food results in a blank, creepy stare, and the words, "Dog food?" repeated in a vague, confused voice, suggesting the speaker has never heard the term "dog food" before, or perhaps is unfamiliar with the English language.

To quote Paul, who is not and never has been a pinhead, "Uh, hey, your village called...."

I'm guessing the village wants its idiot back. Unfortunately, many of the associates would never be able to find their village again. Many of the associates cannot find their butts with both hands. If their heads were to fall off, they'd never manage to get them back on. Couldn't find their wits with an eight man working crew with lanterns....

Care information? From these people? Just how the hell stupid would the customer have to be, to ask them for information?

Can you spell "pinheads," kids? (If you can't, here's a hint: I've spelled it twelve times, so far, some singular, some plural. Do your best.)

Which brings us to the last group of non-cricket pinheads: our customers. The people who firmly believe if you keep a Burmese python in a ten-gallon tank, it will miraculously fail to grow to its genetically-programmed eighteen-or-so feet. The people who firmly believe that a hamster will stay put inside its flimsy-but-expensive 99% plastic house, even after it's chewed holes the size of Arrowhead Stadium all over it. The people who firmly believe that "that snake's the ugliest thang I ever seen," while somehow ignoring their own gaping jaws, unwashed hair, filthy fingernails, and general grotesque appearances.

The people who call up, asking if we've "got any Budweiser lizards." The people who want us to diagnose their rabbit's ailment, give us something like, "Well, he's gone psycho," then refuse to accept that the bunny's gone "psycho" because he's hit puberty like a runaway train. The people who routinely, almost serially, sacrifice guinea pigs, or rabbits, or hamsters, or mice, to The Horrid Demon Red Cedar. The people who sacrifice tiny, helpless animals to their own ill-controlled progeny. The people who insist on buying pairs of animals, then go ballistic when said pair does the horizontal mambo and brings forth upon this continent a new nation.

Not unlike their owners seem to be attempting to do.

Betcha five bucks that in fifteen years, their kids will be working in The Office....

Last updated: 24 August 2003. Page copyright 2000-2006.