Eight years is a long time to work with fish that forget you every ten seconds. Some days when it’s quiet, I’ll watch them swimming in their circles until they blur together into some sort of dizzy rainbow. Sure, some are orange, some are black, some have creepy-looking bug eyes, but they are all exactly the same. Always swimming back and forth, they are oblivious to everything. You could talk to them everyday, but they will never remember you; let alone care about you. More work than they are worth and better furniture than pets. Just like men, I suppose. They only take notice of two things: fish flakes and green mesh. I spread the salty flecks over the water every morning and they swarm to the top of their tank to gobble up every last bit. But the fish always scatter when the net descends into their little world.
A young man came into the store the other day and spent a long time looking at the cockatiels before he came up to the counter and asked if I had dinner plans. I told him we were having a sale on birdseed today. 45% off. He was here again yesterday and wanted to know if I liked coffee. I directed him towards our new shipment of cat toys. Today, a young girl came in with her mother and wanted a spotted goldfish. I pulled out the net and was chasing the small fish around the tank. The child stared at her new fish as he darted skillfully through the water, evading the net. “Why is he running away?” I backed him into a corner, pulled him up out the water quickly, and put him into a small plastic bag. “Just afraid of change, I guess.”