Sunday, June 21, 2009
It was terrifying.
I told you that one of my fish died, and as my son says, "It's always a sad day when a fish dies."
So I did the obligatory day of mourning (hey, it's a fish) and very quickly felt the need to move on. Bought a bigger tank, set it up, let it run a few weeks, tested the water.
And off to PetCo I go.
This time, however, I chose to buy hardy little fish, Maroon Clowns, raised in captivity. Doesn't that sound like a better idea? And yet, it's a big responsibility. They're so young that when I open the lid they rush to the top for me to pet them. It's bizarre.
But the day I introduced them to the office, it stormed. We're talking sheets of rain, an electric- light-blinking storm, lightening and thunder and potential to wipe out the power of selected Chicago neighborhoods. And I'm not coming back to work until Sunday. If the electricity goes off, then the pump goes off. If the pump doesn't work, the fish are likely to go into renal failure.
We take tza'ar ba'al chaim seriously, don't let animals suffer.
Lucky for me, a few light bulbs in the office went out simultaneously that Friday morning, nothing to do with the storm. I moseyed into the building manager's office to ask him if I am responsible for changing them, or him.
He is. So he passed down the job to Mike, our right-hand guy, to change the bulbs, and Mike saw the tank. He stopped to look at it.
"Do you like it?" I asked.
"Oh, it's so nice! You did a great job."
"I'm hoping to keep them alive."
"I had a roommate once who had a huge tank," Mike tells me, "I mean, HUGE. But he just quit school and took off and left us to care for it, but none of us knew how, so we sold the fish and the tank and it was gone before we even had a chance to say goodbye."
"I know what that's like." Then my wheels start to turn. "Hey, Mike. . ."
"If we ever have a power out in the building, and you're here and I'm not, do you think you might come in and start the tank up again when the power comes back on? It's real simple."
He said sure, and I explained how to do that. It was a great moment.
But I still felt pretty scared when I left the office, anyway, and every once in awhile, over Shabbas, I worried about the new fish, so young they haven't had a formal naming ceremony yet.
And yet, here they are today! Swimming away like they're supposed to!