Today at work we were holding a homeless census count – which basically means that you bribe a bunch of bums with sandwiches, socks, and McDonald’s gift certificates to fill out paperwork. Some of the staff even went so far as to drive around town picking up homeless people in their cars and bringing them back to our office. To me, this seems a little dangerous and unnecessary. I’m all for giving hungry people sandwiches, but it doesn’t mean I want to put a possibly unstable ex-crack addict in my passenger seat. But that’s just me being prejudiced against people without houses. Which is stupid, considering I need 3 roommates to afford my apartment. Hell, I’m practically almost a homeless person. I’m just a few snorts of blow away from living under a bridge – wait, do you snort blow? What is blow? Cocaine, right? – so I really shouldn’t judge. But you should really give me a sandwich and the census (in that order) if you see me licking crack off a dirty sock. Because that would make you a good friend and a decent fucking human being.
And just to prove that I, too, am a decent human being in the face of people who lick crack off dirty laundry and think they can talk to aliens, I babysat the grocery cart of a homeless man while he filled out the census and collected his sandwich. (Well, okay, I stood where I had been standing for the past hour, and casually glanced in the direction of said parked shopping cart every so often, because really, who is going to steal a cart full of smelly plastic bottles? I mean, there was a higher chance than usual of that happening – we were inviting bums off the street to partake in our festive census activities. So there. I kept a homeless dude’s cart from being commandeered by other homeless people. I’m a good person, dammit.)
Well, anyway, during the defense of the grocery cart against an army of unfortunates, my office mate decided to tell us a little story about a field trip she once took.
And I cannot get it out of my head, so I thought I’d share it. Because holy shiz, it could have been so much worse.
So, said office mate played chaperone to her much younger cousin’s school field trip a few years back. The school sent a group of 4 year olds on a “safari” through a wildlife center – Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain, Georgia – which apparently supplied the children with cups of animal food. The kids sat on a bus, which drove through the park, and were supposed to be feeding the animals out the bus window.
First of all, this whole premise sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Toddlers? Wild animals? Food?!
I can tell you first hand that the aggressiveness of animals in captivity when they are surrounded by tourists with food is often traumatizing to children. I still love telling the story of my family’s last big road trip – to Arizona, to see the Grand Canyon. On the way back to California, my brother and I grew ecstatic upon spotting a “Deer Farm, Next Exit” sign. My sap of a father was dumb enough to pull off the highway and buy us each a cup of deer pellets (for some astronomical price, I’m sure) and send us in to meet the deer.
As a smaller-than-usual elementary school student, facing down a herd of ravenous deer became immediately terrifying. They literally charged in our direction. My theory is that these deer had only a sole source of sustenance – the pellets brought in by idiot tourists. I let out a scream, and my younger brother – who was equally terrified – threw the contents of his deer pellet cup into the air and ran, full tilt, out of the enclosure. I followed – hell, there was no way I was going to get trampled by a squad of antlered beasts – and we quickly locked ourselves into the main pen, which was conveniently full of hungry goats.
Believe me, getting our shoe laces eaten by goats was preferable to feeding a herd of starved deer.
[ This is a photo from The Grand Canyon Deer Farm website, and it is a BLATANT LIE. They probably shot this deer with a stun gun before this picture was taken. The site states, “At the Deer Farm you don’t just look at the deer, you walk among them, you touch them, you let them eat right from your hand.” Yeah, and you let them MAUL YOU.]
Well, anyway, I always thought that was a good child-versus-animal story until I heard my co-work’s safari tale.
Apparently, the 4 year olds were completely horrified by the safari as a whole. But the panic came to a raging head when a giraffe stuck its head inside the bus.
As a small child, I believe that having an animal with a tongue about the length of my body take food right out of my hands would be horrible enough in and of itself. But the inevitable trauma does not stop there.
No, in fact, it was near the end of the tour, and the bus driver was blatantly unaware that the giraffe that had its whole fucking head inside the vehicle. He probably mistook the stunned silence of children close to terrified tears as the silence that comes with contentment. But if he were smart, he’d know that 4 year olds are never quiet!
So he stepped on the gas.
This was the point in the narrative where I was all like screaming, NO HE DIDN’T DECAPITATE A GIRAFFE IN FRONT OF A BUS FULL OF 4 YEAR OLDS!!
Well, relax. Release that breath you’ve been holding. He didn’t.
Luckily, my office mate is a kick ass chaperone, and she started yelling to the driver to stop chopping off the head of the giraffe with the bus window. Or something shorter and more urgent sounding. Apparently the giraffe uttered a few disgruntled choking sounds (it was behind a gate and couldn’t follow the bus – yes, that’s right, it totally would have been beheaded. As in, its fifty pound noggin would have totally fallen on some kid and knocked them unconscious. Can you imagine being the kid who got knocked out by a bloody giraffe head?! I’m pretty sure that shit stays with you the rest of your sad, animal-hating life) but no permanent damage was done to the giraffe (I don’t know about the children).
So, kudos to my kick butt VISTA sister who saved a bus full of children from severe emotional distress, their parents from paying thousands of dollars in therapy bills to repair the damage, the bus driver from losing his job, and the giraffe from losing its head. Because a giraffe without a head would be super awkward looking.
You’re an American hero.
This dramatic retelling is completely my work and I take full responsibly for any errors or gross exaggerations.