Friday, January 11, 2008

Step away from the fish, ma'am

I learned something new this morning: There is a one-week waiting period if you want to buy a 12-cent goldfish.

WCK has always looooooved looking at fish. I decided that when the time was right, we'd go out and get our very own goldfish. I'd let WCK name him, and we'd feed him together every morning, just like Mr. Rogers does, and it would be great fun. I kept goldfish all through college, and the majority of them lived long (for goldfish) happy lives, and I never heard any complaints coming from the tank. Anyone from college remember my goldfish Dave? He was the greatest goldfish EVER. There were at least three people at his memorial service in the dorm bathroom. I was completely heartbroken when we had to flush him.

Last night I went online and found that PetSmart sells something called a "Goldfish Starter Kit." For $19.99, you get everything you need -- a tank, a filter, food, gravel, water-conditioning stuff, even a little fake plant. This is PERFECT, I thought. This morning, WCK and I drove 20 minutes to the nearest PetSmart. There is was, right when we walked through the door: A box clearly labeled "GOLDFISH STARTER KIT" with a photo of -- yes -- a big goldfish on the front. I cheerfully put the kit in our cart, and then we walked around for a while looking at the kitties and birds and mice and lizards and dogs being groomed (I've always loved treating PetSmart like a free baby/toddler zoo).

We finally reached the fish area, and I told Fish Saleslady that we wanted to buy a goldfish. She looked at my cart in horror, as though I were hauling around a dead deer carcass.

"You're going to put him in THAT?" she said scornfully.

I looked down at the cart. The box still said "GOLDFISH STARTER KIT", not "GOLDFISH TORTURE KIT." The goldfish on the box looked happy; then again, maybe it was just a peaceful look that came with the sweet release of death.

"Um," I said, "yeah?"

"No," she said, as though I must be some kind of goldfish moron. "That tank won't work for a goldfish. A single goldfish requires ten gallons of water to live."

"Um," I said, "do you sell any goldfish tanks that are actually meant for goldfish?"

She directed me to another goldfish kit -- one that came with an enormous tank and cost $50.

"You can put one goldfish in here," she said. "But just one."

I stood there for a moment, trying to come to grips with the fact that a 12-cent goldfish required a $50 home, wondering where on earth I was going to put this tank, when Fish Saleslady delivered a new piece of news.

"You need to turn the filter on and let it run for a week, so even if you buy this tank, I can't let you take the fish home today. You'll need to come back in seven days."

A waiting period. For a fish. A 12-cent fish.

"Are there any other fish that can go in the cheaper tank?" I asked. You know. The tank clearly labeled for goldfish. Which you sell. In your store.

Fish Saleslady sighed.

"A guppy," she said, as though only the most uncool fish owners buy guppies. "But you still can't take him home today."

Fish Saleslady walked away to tend to her much more important Fish Duties, and WCK and I took one last look at the kitties and left, fishless and tankless. I hadn't really built up the "Buying a Fish" thing, just in case the deal fell through, so WCK was fine with it. I spent the drive home considering Plan B: Get the fish at Wal-Mart, where I'm sure nobody cares much about animal safety, or any other kind of safety, for that matter. Plan C is to secretly order the cheap tank online and then revisit PetSmart, sporting sunglasses, a beard, and a fake English accent.

"Why yes," I'll say, "I have an ENORMOUS tank at home! And it's been running for well over a week! Nothing but the best for my 12-cent fish! Jolly good!"

Fish Saleslady won't suspect a THING.


Abigail said...

I want to hear your fake English accent :)

David E said...

Bait and switch, pun intended

Sunshine said...

Sounds like lawmakers are taking better care of goldfish than children?

Karen's Sister said...

That's insane! T.J. and I are laughing and crying. You could always try a beta. In the wild they live in mud puddles, so they just need a tiny little glass. A friend of mine said she had one in college that lived in a peanut butter jar.

Anyway, I'm sorry the fish didn't work out. Seriously, they still give away goldfish at fairs and at grocery stores. At least you were buying a nice kit with a filter and everything. You should contact the PetSmart manager to tell them they just lost a $20.11 (+ tax) sale today.

And now we can sit back and wait for the first Goldfish enthusiast to write in on these comments and correct our ignorant ways :) You know what I mean.

Brooke said...

That's too funny...I went to the pet store near my house on Friday to buy Aidan a beta fish, but they didn't have any. I wonder if the lady at Petsmart is a Beta Fish Activist as well? I think I'll try Petco next to avoid any possible confrontation:)

Janna said...

The same thing happened at PetSmart in Sioux Falls! Josh and I went in on his birthday last spring to get a fish. I had a bowl already at home - the same bowl, in fact, that I'd kept dozens of goldfish in over the years when I was a kid. We just needed the fish and some food. But when we were ready to pick out our fish, the saleslady badgered us about what kind of bowl we had at home. When I pointed at one in the store that was similar size, she said that was unacceptable and told me to get a beta. Which we did. (And then somehow managed to kill not even three months later.) Maybe this is some sort of beta fish marketing conspiracy?

Karen's sister said...

Check this out:

Now you can dazzle the fish saleslady with a little bit of algebra, or whatever this is. :)

Renee said...

LMAO reading this. I used to have a 75 gallon salt water tank and no one at the fish store ever even asked what kind of tank I had when I came in to buy outrageously expensive fish. Let alone a goldfish.


Rachel said...

Good grief. Apparently your adult enough and responsible enough to care for the child you brought to the store with you, but you are not to be trusted with $0.12 goldfish. :) And yes, I remember Dave. He is missed.