Okay, so I thought I'd go ahead and buy the goldfish. One seems wrong -- too lonely -- so after work, as I browsed the Petsmart aisle looking at fish tanks and things I do not need and don't really want, I worked my way back to the actual fish, where two pimply, impossibly thin youngsters were carrying on their private conversation loudly enough for any stranger to overhear. To his credit, one youngster did say Good afternoon, and then resumed his chitchat with the other. I put goldfish pellets in my basket. I added a package of water treatment packets. I scrutinized the pretty little fantail goldfish. I asked for help when none seemed forthcoming. It went something like this:
Me: I'd like to purchase two of these small goldfish, please.
Associate 1: What size tank do you have?
Me: About two gallons.
A1: I wouldn't recommend goldfish. What you want instead is a betta.
Me: What I want are two goldfish.
A1: They grow too big for that size bowl.
Me: At which point I would get them a larger one.
A1: I wouldn't recommend that.
Me: So I am trying to make a purchase in your store, and twice now you've told me no and recommended I buy something I don't want?
Associate 2: She's not saying no. We just recommend that you get the betta not the goldfish.
A2: The goldish can live a really long time, like twenty years.
Me: . (What, I look like I won't last twenty fucking years?)
A2: They produce a lot of waste.
A2: They keep growing. They get too big. They'll outgrow their bowl and then people--
Me: --and then I would put them into a bigger tank. Why are you making this so hard?
A1 and A2: We're not saying you can't--
Me: Yes. You are.
A1 and A2: We're just recommending--
Me: I didn't ask for your recommendation. I asked for two of these (fucking) goldfish (you fucking nitwits). Have you ever heard of something called customer service? It does not consist of arguing with the customer over what he or she wants.
A1/A2: We're not--
Me: Have yourselves a really nice (fucking) day.
(Parenthetical comments were amazingly kept inside my head and did not pass through my mouth.)
I asked at the register for a manager. What I asked was, Is there a manager around? I asked nicely. The cashier nodded and said, Uh-huh.
I gave her the look that said Would you like to kindly jump out of the way of this train wreck barreling down upon us or shall I shove you to safety for your own good even though you do not deserve it? She pointed.
The manager, when I started explaining the nature of my attempted purchase, interrupted with How big is your tank? Two gallons, I said. We don't recommend two goldfish for that size tank, she said. Do you want one goldfish?
I took a breath. Shouldn't the question--the question you should be asking, the question they should have asked--should not the question be, Would you like a bigger tank to better accommodate the two goldfish you are purchasing today?
We really don't recommend--
I walked out. I retrieved the small hatchet I keep under my passenger seat. I went back inside and smashed, one after the other, sixteen fish tanks. Goldfish, guppies, neons, angelfish--so lucky to already be angels--and then swept a good half-dozen betta bowls from their shelf, dazed, morose betta barely flicking their beady eyes. I pointed into the slapping writhe and asked A2 to please fetch me two fantails from the puddle.
Actually, I only walked out.
Rodney Gomez: A Short Tablature of Loss
5 weeks ago