Thursday, October 14, 2010

Zombie Fish

My first summer after college I worked as a ticket attendant and concessionaire at a county park. Mostly the job involved selling tickets in a booth at the entrance, but occasionally I’d get to leave the booth to sell chips, soda and candy bars at the concession stand, or to do menial maintenance jobs around the park.

This was a welcomed respite until the day all the fish died.

The park had a small lake with a beach area. The lake had fish. One day the fish all caught fish ebola or something, and died. The next day we were faced with hundreds of fish floating belly-up in the lake and washing up on shore.

The beach was closed for weeks while various state agencies tried to figure out why the fish died and whether it was safe to swim in the water. They took a few samples of dead fish, and came to the conclusion, “We don’t really know why the fish died, but it’s probably safe to swim. Have fun!”

This meant there were approximately 3902 dead fish to clean up off the shores of the lake. For 3 days straight I’d walk around the lake carrying a bucket and using a pair of garbage grabbers to place dead fish in the bucket.

Good times.

Now, I’ve never been fishing. So on one sojourn I noticed a fish quite close to shore. It wasn’t floating belly-up, but it definitely wasn’t moving. I figured it had only recently died, thrust the garbage pickers into the water, and pinched it by the tail.

The fish immediately wiggled around furiously trying to swim away. I had apparently caught a zombie fish by the tail. I panicked (OMG ZOMBIE FISH!!!), pulled it out of the water and put it in the bucket with the rest of the ex-fish.

The fish flopped around in the bucket and quickly attempted to evolve and grow lungs. Oops. It wasn’t dead, it was just resting.

I felt bad, but the deed was done. The next day the park re-opened to patrons and I spent the rest of the summer sitting in an booth the size of a broom closet, sans airconditioning, collecting money from people who were pissed off that they had to pay to park their car at a county park.