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.