Thursday, January 13, 2011

notes from my 19-year-old self

So I went back through some of my old writing from my seasonal employee days at the Cleveland Zoo. My writing wasn't all that good as these were mostly quick notes and typed mostly in lowercase, and I used to listen to a lot more Black Flag back then and used the word "awesome" way too much.

Working there gave me a trash-talking mouth that I've since tried to rein in, and an imperviousness to the most absurd of verbally abusive customers. Also, I'm glad I no longer have to wear terrible khaki pants, though I did my own early-20's nonconformity with my black Converse shoes (our shoes were supposed to be "mostly white" so I'd just buy a shiny new pair), gauged ears that you could see through, and more jewelry than was probably necessary.

I was 19 though, and I've changed less than I thought I have. There's still a distrust of authority there and a healthy dose of sarcasm but hopefully I'm less catty than I once was.

The worst people by far to deal with were suburban housewives with children named Madison and Cody, and boomers who just got their Golden Buckeye cards and felt entitled to a discount. Everyone lies about the age of their kid and since the customer is always right, you can't tell them that you know their 22 month old is talking in complete sentences and barely fits in the stroller and instead end being snarky to try to make them feel guilty by saying "wow, she's pretty developed for her age."

The best people were the metal dads who usually had tattoos and old Anthrax and Iron Maiden t-shirts who were always the nicest and had cool little kids.

Tourists were pretty bad too, especially the Australian who cussed me out for saying "koala bear" because I should know better.

It was a strange melting pot of Parma kids, girls from Glenville, assorted older women including one who believed in the Evil Eye, total slackerness in the form of riding around on golf carts and being told "just look like you're doing something useful," prank calling people at other ticket booths and at the front desk on slow days when the managers weren't there.

We got accidentally mooned, cussed out on a daily basis, dealt with unfunny clowns and people that were on acid trips, smuggled in toys that the gift shop kids gave us, set up a bowling alley in the back hallway, took money that came from pill bottles, women's bras, and wadded-up dollar bills from stinky shoes, and amazingly rarely got sick.

absurd conversations, gruesome horror stories written in the notebook used as a problem log that we all added to until our manager discovered it, and continued commentary on bad tattoos, dismal fashion choices, and wondering what woodwork some of these people crawled out of.

Free Mondays answering the phone:

Can I speak to Miss Ellie Phant? What about Mr. Lion? HAHAHA!!!

Is the zoo free today?

Are you a Cuyahoga County resident?

no, I'm not a Cuyahoga resident. I live in Parma.

Uh, is Cleveland in Cuyahoga County?

Of course I'm from Cuyahoga County! (pulls out Texas ID)

I'm having a party and it's Egyptian themed and i was wondering if i could rent your camels?

I saw this bird outside. And then it flew away. I just wanted to tell you about it.

Not only were there animals, but we also had animatronic dinosaurs and a simulator ride that was always described dirty mind or not as the Dinosaur Stimulator that you could pay extra for. Parents often begged me to threaten their bratty kids with the possibility of being fed to the tigers or thrown to the (real) dinosaurs if they didn't stop whining about cotton candy.

And the customers:

Drunk parents at the African Savannah watering hole.

The frighteningly fashionable Armani-clad couple whose drivers licenses looked like dress up senior pictures

The family with all these cute little kids and all the boys were wearing camouflage baseball caps that said "Daddy's Little Hunter." One kid had a toy rifle sticking out of his backpack.

I met the King of trailer trashdom today at work. he came through my line in the full glory of wifebeater, faded acid wash jeans, long stringy hair and a motorcycle vest. he had this awesome gold plastic crown thing too. he swept through, shouting "make way! i'm ROYALTY!"
he even had Kid Rock in his entourage. or someone that looked like him.

I don't understand why people tattoo the number of their favorite NASCAR driver on themselves.

I saw some guy with a creed logo tattooed on his whole shoulder and i wonder if he will regret it in 10 years

LOTS of prison tattoos

work was perfectly fine until the last five minutes. i was so worried i would have a lawsuit on my hands. the window i sell camel ride tickets out of has a hard time staying open so there's this stick that we use to hold it up. not the safest thing to begin with. some little kid was being kind of stupid and playing with the window and it fell down and smashed his hand. i freaked out and his family freaked out even more. thank god he didn't break anything because they wanted to know who i was and talk to my manager. it all ended up getting smoothed out but it was really stressing.

then i missed my bus and had to wait a half hour for the next one.

there were 2 wedding parties today. the second one came in as i was closing up and everyone was totally plastered. one bridesmaid fell out of the charter bus. everyone else including the bride was chain smoking and yelling stuff. half of them could barely walk straight.

Ryan, the new kid gave me a 2 day bus pass and saved me a nice $3. i saw a 50 year old lady with very dyed blond hair down halfway to her knees, a rhinestone studded cowboy hat, camou tube top and booty shorts. i never want to look like that when i get old.

saw Trailer Trash King again but he wasn't wearing his crown this time. just the biker vest and the WMMS t-shirt with the cut-off sleeves.

Amish midgets do exist.

zoo quote of the day: dumb guy: " the Rainforest is where the pandas are right?
dumb guy's girlfriend: " no dumbass! they live in the bamboo forests of RUSSIA!"

this other lady in a huge fur hat knocked out my sign window and shoves 3 zoolights passes at me. as the tickets print, i start voiding them and she starts yelling at me "can you do that writing later? i have a PERFORMANCE i cannot miss" (oh you mean that lady playing harp in the visitors center?)... whatever. thank god for glass and a mute button on my headset.

Getting screamed at by a mom who insists her kid NEEDS to see the Christmas Train.

if i ever get a WGAR loyal listener card, shoot me. especially if i have the nerve to show it to people to get a discount.

a guy got hit by a tram. i felt like scum because i'm supposed to sit there and just print out tickets and take people's money while a guy's lying unconscious and his grandkids are freaking out. someone had already called 911 and all that.

another guy tried to intimidate me and let me give him tickets even though he didn't have enough money. i told him i'd be screwed because my drawer would be off and he's like 'well just overcharge the next person."

ended up working 10-5 today. easiest job in the world. answer phones, transfer crabby people to other departments, take packages. i walked around on break and looked at the baby seal and the tiger. i got this one package by fedex from malaysia. it had some kind of exotic bugs in it. cool.

this one creepy guy was hitting on candace today at work. what made it so weird was that he was a cleveland public school teacher who was there with his third grade class or something and he was doing it in front of the kids. he asked her to marry him and kept on coming back trying to get her phone number. We made up a fake stripper name (Kandi Boomer) and gave him the number of the cleveland zoological society because it looks like a legit phone number.

candace got a redneck with a confederate states of america belt buckle that was HUGE. i also saw a guy in an art bell sweatshirt. he looked really paranoid and was wearing dark sunglasses.

we're not allowed to read in the box office anymore which isn't cool because that's how i keep my sanity when things are slow. however, they didn't say anything about not being allowed to write...

saw a random t-shirt today on some lady.
Latvia : where storks are storks and the frogs are nervous

work wasn't too bad for a monday. it's faster for me to walk up the hill at closing time than get a ride because traffic's so backed up. we've had so many weird random people there it's kind of been like monday everyday. there were these rebellious amish teens that came through my line yesterday. they were all smoking and the boys had their shirts all the way open. i think they thought it made them look sexy but it just looked bad.

i saw this little girl, she had to be about 7 or 8 and she was in a school group. she had the worst mullet i've ever seen. i'm talking rod stewart or joe dirt, like with it all bushy and spiky on the top and really long too. i felt so bad for her.

this new agey lady wearing all these crystals and stuff comes up to me to buy tickets for the dinosaurs and i do the usual "here's the tickets and such and such in change." she gets this weird mystical look on her face and says "this isn't change. change comes from within. you should tell people that instead of giving them change. because it comes from inside you." i mumbled something like "ummm yeah," and moved on to the next person.

we were watching the seagulls fly around the ticket plaza and were hoping they'd pop one of the balloons. dan was talking about being on ecstasy and seeing visions of lions and how "brewery" is such a hard word to say.

i laughed outright at a customer at work yesterday. she came up to my window, this old lady wearing this really expensive necklace with this orangy pendant thing on it and dan goes "dude, is that lady wearing a lifesaver around her neck?"

work with dan and patty was good. it was busy today, like every day last summer and it went really fast. i had this crazy guy who didn't know what he was talking about and he thought i cut him a deal on his tickets so he started praising jesus. i wanted to tell him that jesus wouldn't have appreciated him coming back and yelling at me, not to mention lying to me about the ages of his kids.

they were trying to give away KISS/Poison tickets at work. you couldn't pay me to go to that.

did the back lot today with tiffany. we were bored and sweltering and played around with the paint program on the computer. i did cartoons with pirates and dinosaurs eating zoo patrons and robots taking over the world. the robots had slogans like "doom is at hand," "just say no," "there's no 'i' in team," and tiffany and josh contributed "let's boogie," and "sit on it." i get really weird when i have too much time on my hands and it's way too hot outside.

i felt bad for the polar bear because it was sleeping and it looks about as comfortable as you can get at the zoo on a hot August day and these stupid little daycare kids were throwing rocks and yelling trying to wake it up.

And the cranky pissed off side of me...

For some reason people kept on asking me if I was hung over. lots of dumb jokes about jello shots.

I didn't even feel like smiling or being nice because I was so tired and fed up with stupid people. or just nasty ones. some lady demanded that I give her a discount because she lives right behind the zoo. Like I care.

i've tried so freaking hard this year. my drawer hasn't been off in two weeks. i've never called off or even shown up late. i've come in when i didn't have to and sure as hell didn't feel like it. and believe it or not, i'm actually nice to people. nice to everyone. even customers who tell me i'm a stupid punk who can't do anything, complicate everything, make fun of my jewelry, whatever. i've been the perfect nice little cog in the machine to make some money for college, most of which goes to the city of cleveland to be blown on rich people's ballparks.


Randal Graves said...

WTF, squared. I'm so tempted to steal stuff from here & turn it into some weirdo acid verse.

Are you disappointed that the spectra of lunacy chez library isn't as brilliant?

thatgirl said...

Sometimes I am, honestly. Though having bulletproof glass and a headset where you can mute the other person without them knowing was really nice.

Randal Graves said...

I'm going to check with admin to see if we can get bulletproof glass & headsets. Don't see why they'd ever say no.

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