Monday, April 18, 2011

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Zoo

I went to the Zoo last week. Alas, it wasn’t a pleasure trip, but strictly business. I like the Zoo. Who doesn’t? I wished I could have spent the afternoon strolling around watching lions sleep and orangutans throw feces around, but I was in the business of business conducting business with fellow business people. Heck, I even had dress shoes on. I was serious.

The weathered subcompact car sat pointed diagonally across three of the short term parking spaces at the Zoo. The woman stood about 10 feet away from the open passenger side window and spoke in an animated fashion to the unseen driver of the car. The woman was in her mid twenties, slightly overweight, and had that Appalachian/Eastern European genetic makeup that is so typical of Cleveland’s near Westside. She was pale and tired looking. She looked resigned to a future of single motherhood, long hours, poor wages, and unfulfilled dreams. There are about 300,000 women that look exactly like her in Northeast Ohio.

I pulled my car to the right of the rusty Geo, and continued the conversation I was having on the phone. I absentmindedly looked out the window at the woman speaking in an even more urgent fashion and noted her McDonald’s uniform, hands clasping her Golden Arch visor. Suddenly the driver whipped out of her side of the car, and practically ran over to the other woman. The driver looked very similar to the McDonald’s employee, but was maybe three years older and three years fatter. Her XL plain white t-shirt was faded and stained, and draped over her dumpy jeans. That’s when the both of them immediately started to trade punches.

I have seen a number of fistfights in my day. The ones that are the best are always where you least expect them to happen. The upscale restaurant. A church lobby. The Department of Motor Vehicles. Places that don’t have any bouncers or amped up security guards also have a bunch of people like me that have no interest in getting involved. It’s really a perfect storm. You end up with the fight continuing until the combatants are out of steam, or one of them kills the other. The entrance to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a great example of a place with little experience in breaking up adult women fistfights. And I was clearly not going to be the one to get involved.

I sat in my car calmly continuing the conversation I was having while these two hillbillies traded blows to the face. I believe the quote was “I’m going to fuck you up” when the McDonald’s girl started to roundhouse into the eye of the car’s driver. Meanwhile I just hoped they didn’t shove each other into my car. I had just had it washed for God’s sake. I could not have been any more detached from the situation. I was no more excited about watching this than if I would have been if I was watching a Rockford Files re-run while home sick with the flu.

After a strong 45 seconds of punching each other, an older man and polo shirt clad security kid ran across the parking lot and wedged in between the two, effectively ending the brawl. The thirty or so 7 year olds that were entering the Zoo stood open mouthed as three teacher’s aides struggled to minimize the psychic impact of seeing two potential mommies knocking heads like Manny Pacquiao and “Sugar” Shane Mosely on HBO Sports. You could almost see the wheels turn in these kids’ heads. “My God. If those mommies can get in a scrap, what about my mommy? How can she handle herself in a dust up? And that one lady had a McDonald’s uniform on… Does that mean if I don’t finish my Happy Meal next time, she’ll kick my little ass?” This was a day where those teachers would really over deliver on their paltry salary. How much would you pay someone to make sense of a World Gone Mad?

As I exited my car the two women struggled to be freed from the grasp of their respective security guard screaming recriminations. “She started it! She started it!” I glanced at the spectacle a mere two feet to my left, and walked by into the Zoo Administration entrance. Even thinking about it now, I can’t come up with a scenario in which I would have been moved to get involved. Maybe, and I mean maybe, I would have tried to do something if the one was hitting the other with something impressive like a tire iron or ice pick. Even then it would have been more of a suggestion as opposed to getting in there like a steroid fueled Nightclub Doorman. I might have stood to the side and said something along the lines of, “Excuse me, is this really necessary? Can you maybe stop? You’re really freaking out those kids. No? Well, OK then, but I don’t think this is a real good idea.”

In the end, I don’t know how those Zoo employees handled it. After everyone calmed down, you can’t just send them on their way. You have to handle it quietly like a casino in Vegas would handle it. Maybe they handcuffed them to hot water tanks in the Large Mammal Building and then threw them in with the polar bears after hours. That would explain if there was a soggy McDonald’s visor bobbing in the polar bear pool the next morning. The rusty Geo was driven to an auto wrecker and compacted. The kids? You think they’ll ever talk about it again? No way. Not after the teachers finished up with them. No matter how it ended up for the ladies and despite my initial lack of enthusiasm, it turned out that this was my favorite visit to the Zoo ever.


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