So, recently I posted a status update on Facebook with the above picture making reference to my chore of cleaning a dung beetle display. I've had more than a couple of people ask me what goes through my head when I do the unusual tasks I do at work.
Here it is, for one and all to see your your curiosities can be laid to rest.
What exactly was going through my head when I was sifting through poo.
9:15 am: well, let's see what is left on the checklist for me to do this morning. "Check millipedes. Feed if necessary". Check. "Check on hermit crab on the counter". Check. Woohoo! I'm totally brezzing through these chores today! "Check water levels in bramble containers". Check. Crap I'm awesome! "Clean scheduled exhibit". Well, I haven't done that yet. Lets see . . . what is scheduled to be cleaned today? Dung Beetles. Hmmmmm. I'd better ask Khanh what type of cleaning is required.
9:25 am: Chad: Khanh? I'm going to clean the dung beetle display. Does it get a half-assed cleaning or a deep cleaning?
Khanh: Uhhhh . . . they're dung beetles. Probably a deep cleaning.
Crap. I was hoping for a half-assed. That's where you open the lid and fill the water, stir the soil, remove anything dead and replenish their food. Deep cleaning is . . . well . . . you'll see.
9:30 am: After I've wheeled my cart to the dung beetle display I unplug the display light and incredible hulk the giant aquarium onto it. Then I push it into the back room and unlock the lid.
Hmmmm. How exactly should I start this? I know! I'll use that empty aqaurium right there and just start anew!
9:35 am: Let's see. I'll add some substrate to the bottom, this fake plant will look nice, some rocks, and finally the little metallic dung beetles. What's next? Food and water. Food. Poop.
9:40 am: Chad: Hey, Khanh? Where is the horse poop?
Khanh: It should be in the fridge.
Chad: I looked there.
Khanh: Did you check the refrigerator door?
It was in the door. Right under the gatorade/Pabst Blue Ribbon mixture, next to the fruit fly larvae meal. Silly me.
I think one ziploc bag of horse poop should suffice. Here you go little beetles! Chow time! At least cold poop doesn't smell that strong otherwise I wouldn't be able to drink my mocha. Mmmmmm. Mocha. Girlie drink totally makes bad poop seem great!
What else? Water. Reverse osmosis water. Water that is exponentially cleaner than what I drink. These beetles are eating poop yet drinking heavenly pure water. Hey, if it ain't broke. . .
9:55 am: I wheel the new clean exhibit out to its display stand and plug the light back in.
Beautiful. I should take a picture of this, it's so pretty! *click*
Now for the really icky part.
10:00 am: Where are those rubber gloves? Here we go. Rubber gloves? Check. Aquarium full of used soil and poop? Check. Mocha? Check.
I dip my hand into the poo and pull up my first handful. Before the soil can be thrown away it needs to be frozen. But first - check it thoroughly for larvae, pupae, etc.
Okay. This smells WAY worse! I almost can't drink my mocha. Almost. (sip)
Nothing in this handful. Nothing in this handful. Nothing in this handful. Hey! Look at this nugget of poop! I finally get why they call them "road apples"! I wonder if I have to break it up and check inside. Might as well while I'm already wrist deep.
Who was that fabled giant that roamed the countryside with a large ladle, cleaning outhouses? Honeydipper Dan? I wonder if I could get my nametag to read "Honeydipper Chad". Then, I'd probably need to get a ladle too. I doubt anyone would know what I was talking about and they'd just think I was crazy, yes?
Hey! What the hell just wiggled? Pupae. You can go on the counter.
. . . 45 minutes, three pupae and one larvae later . . .
Time to wash out this empty aquarium. Scrub scrub rinse rinse. *Sigh* That is beautiful.
Now I will set this aside for the next time I clean them.
10:50 am: I walk out to the displays and as I pass a family I hear the little girl talk about how nasty the case of dung beetles is.
I wonder if I could get away with smacking that little girl.
Little girl is molesting my nice clean glass with her sticky, gravel hands!
I wonder if I could smack her hard enough that it would stun her out consciousness.
Mother is telling little devil girl not to touch the glass. It's disgusting and filthy.
And the mother. I should smack the mother too.
Really, people? Yes, they're eating poop. Yes, that's gross. But that aquarium? Is squeaky fucking clean. It's my morning's masterpiece! Realize that some of the things you're criticizing are the products of hard work. Hard work done by someone standing in smacking range, you little bitches.
Well, now I'm off to mount some dead butterflies. Only slightly more glamourous, no?