Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Great Pet Shop Flood

To begin, a personalised message to my former manager, who doubtless will see this on Facebook: Kev, I only recently realised this was my fault. If I’d known at the time that I was responsible for thousands of pounds worth of damage, a day’s lost takings, and countless drowned rodents, I would have owned up immediately!


11 straight days of work had just passed, many of which were 14 hour shifts. Furthermore, the previous night had been sleepless as I battled to save a rabbit’s life by tenderly fingering it. Not only did my tiredness match that of an obese family after a third visit to the Harvester salad cart, but my fingers still smelled funny. I was not in the mood to stand ankle-deep in pet shop floor water.

After having been awakened early on my day off by a panicked phone call, I had anticipated raging floodwaters. With heroic abandon I would wade into the torrent, hoisting half-drowned guinea pigs like punctured floatation devices from the deluge, until Sean Penn rescued me with a rowboat.

Sean Penn cares about the guinea pigs

Now, the water might not have been deep. But in any flood, there is risk of disease. Let me walk you through my typical morning routine in the pet shop.

At 6am I’m cleaning out a cage full of dwarf hamsters, each one painstakingly hand-crafted by Satan. One latches onto my finger. My body immediately forfeits its last drop of testosterone. I shriek and flail my hands. The hamster is launched across the shop, before shaking itself to its senses and disappearing beneath the shelves. Meanwhile, its accomplices have jumped for it. I cram as many back as I can, but the lucky ones escape. Somewhere, the theme from The Great Escape plays.

The successfully liberated hamsters make nests which are approximately 80% faeces. Ergo, the water that has soaked into my socks was approximately 80% faeces. Ergo, I now had syphilis.

Let’s continue to abuse tenses and flash back to the previous night. No sleep for 36 hours and the sexual violation of a dying rabbit. My frame of mind is questionable. As we lock up, I run to the back room to grab an extra syringe. My attempt to rinse it beneath the tap is thwarted when it proffers no water. So, as I hurry out, the tap is on, but not yet running. And the plughole is clogged with sawdust.

You can probably piece the rest together

We spent 9 hours ushering water to the exits with brooms. Several doors throughout the shop warped beyond repair. Display stands collapsed and stock was wrecked. The community of escaped hamsters, presumably hitherto living out some kind of Borrowers-style utopia, floated from their hiding places, corpses like spent tea bags.

I assumed they'd find a way to adapt

Sorry, Kev.

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