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Personal Essay: Volun-Told
Words by Karl Stevenson
Image by Gretchen Gales
In just one day, I found myself arm deep in festering feces, a punctured patella, and an evaporated ego.
I was an animal lover who at the time was unemployed and highly under the influence of my parent’s decisions. I was told my summer would be fun-filled and I would go see a movie while I was packed into my mother’s car…somehow said trip ended up with me being dropped off quicker than an Amazon package at a building I never witnessed before. While my mother pulled off as quickly as the Road Runner, I approached the mystery building which it’s only cues for identification were a dog sign and a cat in the window. I ended up signed up volunteering for an animal hospital without my consent nor my knowledge. How old was I you ask? Wondering if I was breaking any child labor laws? I’m sure I was at the age of fourteen, with the body of a prepubescent, frail girl. As the veterinarian towered over me he condescendingly asked if I was Karl the volunteer, and before my somatosensory nerves could even begin to inform my lips to move I was pulled away by a vet tech whose bodily aura could resemble a chicken being placed in a giraffe’s body, completely awkward and disoriented in every way.
The vet tech who will remain nameless shall be referred to as…Giraffe Aviator shoved me towards a full sink the size of a doll figurine kitchen set, although the contents inside were the size of a continent. I was told to clean whatever was inside with a miniaturized tooth brush that maybe could have had a better purpose for a toothless infant. Before I could ask what was even inside the foul smelling sink, Giraffe Aviator—I assume— ran back to the grasslands. When I then slowly peered at the contents…I can only describe what I saw was small ear cleaners, rods, and tools caked in what I pray was poop. But not normal poop…atomic poop. Poop with the consistency of nacho cheese mixed with brown rice, coated in multi layers of mucous that crawled its way up to my elbows like a Gremlin coming back from the grave.
I fled. I escaped. I relocated my being and remaining dignity into the bathroom were I scraped off at least five layers of my epidermis in boiling water and soap. After insuring I wasn’t going to have some form of posttraumatic shock, I approached the receptionist and demanded I work with animals and not their excretory waste. She immediately apologized for the hazing I went through and took me to the back to play with the residential yellow lab I’ll call Vivian whose fur was as gorgeous as her name. I gave Vivian her favorite peanut butter biscuits and as I turned I felt a sharp pain on my knee. I turned. I glanced. I cursed. Vivian (more like a Calypso) dug her filled down canines directly into my knee without any hesitation. At that moment the receptionist remembered that Vivian despises any testicle bearers. After unhinging several teeth from my body, I was told to go home and thanked for my participation.
Upon my mother’s arrival to pick me up after this grandiose tragedy she asked me how her son the “animal whisperer” did with the animals he worked with. As I began retelling the story, I witnessed my pride drop just like her jaw.
#Real #PersonalEssay #VolunteeringNightmares #UnfortunatelyTrue
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