Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Unwanted Oscar

Oscars were popular when I worked at the tropical fish shop. They're cute, pugnacious, and intelligent. They have personality. Some even like to be petted. They have one serious drawback: they grew very large. Inch long youngsters become ten inch* bruisers. Unless your tank holds more water than your tub, you've got a problem. Owners sometimes returned the big guys in exchange for smaller fish.
This had its problems. While magnificent to look at, they cost more to feed, took up a lot of room, and were harder to sell.
Still, I didn't expect it to lead to the callous treatment one Oscar got.
He was almost a foot long. A scar over his eye resembled a disease called hole-in-the-head**. As you probably guessed, the super-sized, diseased-looking fish wasn't selling.
One day I took out the trash. Something in the dumpster moved. It was the foot-long! Someone had thrown him in the trash, alive! I couldn't believe anyone could be so mean. He lay gasping amongst the trash, in the hot sun.
I ran in, got the biggest, longest net, went to the rescue. I almost toppled into the dumpster to get him out. I splashed him back into his tank. He seemed okay.
"Someone put the big Oscar in the trash," I told my boss. He seemed surprised.
Was he? Or was he in on the plot?
A few days later, the fish was gone. Was he re-dumpestered when I wasn't there to save him? Released in a local pond? Or did he actually find a good home?

*Wild ones can be over a foot long.
**Really, that's the name of the disease.


Linda said...

I can't stand to hear stories like this. THAT ILLUSTRATION IS BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL.

walterworld said...

Nice work rescuing that Oscar!

stray said...

Yes, this illustration is fabulous!!! You are so good at this!

Sally said...


Namowal said...

Thanks, Linda. Sorry about the disturbing aspect. In retrospect it seems ironic- the shelves were stocked with food, filters, medicine, and everything you could buy to make a fish happy and healthy. Meanwhile backstage one nearly gets whacked, Mafia style.

Thanks, Walter World. I still wonder if the boss (a rather kindly fellow) was glad I or annoyed that I saved the Oscar.

Thanks, Stray. I'm flattered that you pro artists like my stuff.

Thanks, Sally!

stray said...

Funny you posted this right before the Oscars: was that intentional?

Namowal said...

Good question, Stray.
I didn't consciously do this, but it wouldn't surprise me if it somehow influenced my choice of what to post about. I had the Oscar been another "big galoot" fish- a Red Devil, a Pacu or a Green Terror, would the incident have crossed my mind this weekend?

Franco said...

some people just have no water running through their veins, its blasphemy!

Namowal said...

I agree, Franco.
I can reluctantly understand that the shop is a business and profit is an objective...
...but what kind of person throws a live fish in a dumpster like he's a piece of garbage? It's disturbing.