by Brian Sodeman, Overnight Supervisor
It was late at night and pitch black. The only thing illuminating my way was a weak flashlight powered by dying batteries. I had one last task to complete before I could call it a night. The giraffe bottles needed to come down.
Now, normally this was a routine assignment. The bottles are five gallon jugs that are filled with produce. They are hung up so the giraffes can munch on the tasty veggies. When the giraffes are finished, the bottles are taken down. No big deal. Or so I thought.
I was already thinking of my soft sleeping bag while I walked to the Giraffe exhibit. As I approached the fence where the bottles were hanging, I heard a rustling in the bushes. Strange, I thought. The giraffes are usually pretty quiet. Plus, if they were the source of the noise, it would have been pretty obvious. It’s not like they are little and can hide in a small plant. No, it was something else making the racket. Long before my eyes located the source, my nose gave me an idea as to what it might be.
Finding my way thru the bushes, straining to see under the dim light, I came closer to the bottles. Directly under them was a skunk. And I was only a few feet away. I stood there and hoped that it would move on. Taking down the bottles was the last thing I had to do before I could go to bed. And the skunk was standing in the way.
Waiting patiently for the skunk to move on, I weighed my options. I could stand there for an undetermined length of time and hope the skunk left. I could try to take down the bottles with the skunk still near by. Or I could risk it all and try to scare the skunk away. None of those seemed like good options. Driven by the need to sleep, I decided to press my luck and persuade to skunk into leaving. I tried making noise and stamping my feet. It seemed to be working. The skunk started to walk away. I started to taste victory. But before I could enjoy it, the skunk came running back…with reinforcements. There was another skunk near by, and now they were both under the giraffe bottles.
Not to be out done, I armed myself with a near-by hose. With the nozzle aimed at the bushes, I watered the plants. This got the skunks moving. They left the area and I was free to take down the bottles. My night was almost over. I went to put the bottles away, when I encountered the skunk again.
It was standing in front of the gate I needed to walk thru, almost taunting me. It dared me to pass, and this time there was no hose around. Since the gate was wide, I decided to go for it. I went to the right, and walked right by the skunk. I had made it pass. Feeling quite confident that I would get to go to bed now, I walked away. If only the skunk could have done the same thing. It couldn’t let things go, and it ran after me. Almost in shock, I turned around and stared. It came within a few feet, looked me in the eyes, and stamped its feet. Stamp stamp stamp! I was the better man and backed down. After all, I was sleepy.