There are dirty jobs people love
Updated: March 10, 2012 8:09AM
It was 11:59 a.m. Time to man our battle stations. I looked across the goat yard at my other fellow keeper, silently signifying for him to be prepared. He looked at me with fierce eyes and gave me a curt nod. We gripped our brooms with sweaty palms. He was ready. I was ready. The clock ticked to noon, and that’s when we heard the first cacophony. A child shrilled, “Ewe Mom, they’re pooping!”
Among the zookeepers, this was a ritual within the goat yard. Twelve o’ clock implied the goats knew it was lunchtime and for them it was time to “empty out.” Whoever was assigned to watch over the goat yard at that time was saluted good luck, patted on the back and thrown into the war zone.
But let’s pump the breaks and dissect the fact that it’s not the goats’ “rituals” that made this the hardest part of the day; it was dealing with the people. Systematically speaking, a keeper always had to be in the petting yard monitoring the goats, the chickens, and most importantly the people. Ergo, it was also the keeper’s responsibility to keep the yard clean.
Yet, it never failed when I was attending to the cleanliness of the yard, I would get an overzealous individual trot up to me and say, “So, how much do you get paid to pick up poop all day?” or my personal favorite, “Don’t you wish you wouldn’t have dropped out of high school?” I would usually robotically respond with a courteous smile, but on days that I must have missed the memo to put my customer service cap on, I would retort with, “You have to have a college degree to have this job.”
The condescending nature of these comments is what bothered me the most. It was as though I should feel tainted, dirty or shunned for the career I had chosen at that time. The ironic thing is, being a zookeeper for that short period will probably be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. How many people can say that they have cradled a kangaroo joey in their arms, rubbed the belly of a wombat or trained a raccoon? Very few. Not many people can say they have been bitten by a skink three times in the same day.
I had a hard time understanding the concept that if I loved my job why should someone else place judgment on what I chose to do? Even if it was a transitional job, it is not someone’s place to pass sarcastically cold comments my way. Most people see a light at the end of the tunnel: their dream. Every dream is different and people’s dreams may be on a large or a modest scale. Regardless, a job or career path manifests itself distinctly in all people. They are doing what they are doing for a reason. Don’t smirk at them for their decision; applaud them for their drive.
Alyssa Samson is from Indian Head Park