How to be a Successful Zoo Professional When You Fancy Profanity (Probably NSFW)

I admit it.  I curse like a sailor wearing a wool uniform, paired with a scorching case of herpes, on a hot summer day.  This is a habit I cultivated many years ago; my career had (and has) nothing to do with it.  I’ve performed all of the perfunctory mea culpas over the years, especially as a southern female.  We are expected to be ladies and foul language is still fairly taboo.  This is especially true if you have blue eyes, freckles, and breasts.

It's not foul, it's flair.
It’s not foul, it’s flair.  For shit’s sake…

I’ve repented and apologized to proper company, always making sure to mention, “Jeez, I really need to stop cursing so much.”  I didn’t mean a word of it, but I felt the need to soften the harsh verbal stream that was flowing from my mouth.  I wanted to leave the impression that I hoped to change the behavior, but I didn’t truly hope for any such thing.  I tried to condition myself to say similar, yet less offensive phrases such as “Cheese and Rice” rather than “Jesus Christ!”  I tried using “Son of a Biscuit” instead of “Son of a B*TCH!”  I also chose “Mother Humper” over “Mother F*cker” for awhile (not much better but I considered it an approximation).

Nope.  Not working for me.  Not gratifying at all.

The fact is that I like to curse.  No, I f*cking love it.  However, I realize that there are critical moments to activate the “profanity filter” if you want to be successful in our field.  So, here are a few things I have learned along the way to help keep you from receiving the dreaded “See Curator Immediately” Post-It® in your mailbox.

F*ck me running, I hate those.

Oh BALLS... Now what?!
Oh BALLS… Now what?!

The most obvious way to become a successful profanity enthusiast (and keep your zoo job) is to know your audience.  When you are in a safe place to remove the filter, let ‘er rip!  My time is typically during my lunch break and my marathon moments are when I am at the bar with my zoo and non-zoo friends.  Honestly, during those times I truly feel as though my blasphemous comments outnumber my wholesome ones by 2-1.  I interpret this as a release valve; a way to release the pressure of mounting steam, created by the heat of staying within the confines of the “polite police” (otherwise known as “regular people”).  It pours out like lava, likening you to Puff the Magic Dragon..a dragon full of vulgarity vapor.

Let me tell you all about this c*ck knocker of a Post It note I got today in my mailbox...
Let me tell you all about this c*ck knocker of a Post It note I got in my mailbox today…

You also realize that cursing in front of animals is tremendous because they don’t understand you.  Your human co-workers take you to HR; your animal co-workers go about their day swimming or picking fleas off of each other.  You can quietly sing your favorite song with curse words and they are none the wiser.  My faves are Cee-Lo’s “F*ck You” and Limp Bizkit’s “Gimme Somethin’ to Break”; it all depends on my emotional weather at the moment.  You can talk to yourself without reprisal from others, such as “Holy Filet O’ F*cking Fish!  Who’s the jackhole who didn’t clean the sink last night before leaving?  Seriously, who in the world of F*CK does that sh*t?!

*cue throwing buckets.

This element is also advantageous when you get hurt.  Exhibit A:  This is my foot at 7:30 a.m., after I stepped into a 5,000 gallon exhibit to retrieve live rock for another exhibit.  A spotted sea trout bit first and asked questions later…

Holy sh*t on a stone cold cracker! What the f*ck have I ever done to you but feed you every single day?!
Holy sh*t on a stone cold cracker! What the f*ck have I ever done to you but feed you every single day?!

Expletives are not just for when you are angry and upset.  Quite the contrary!  I relish blasphemous language when I am joyful just as much as when I am wound for wrathful sound.  I once crafted a pretty awesome EED (environmental enrichment device) for a rescue sea turtle that took some “thinking outside the box”.  There were lot of restrictions (due to his disabilities and personal history) and it made designing the EED difficult.  When we finally crafted something safe and fun for him that met all the regulations?  Jubilation!  I believe my words were, “Look at our little fat bastard go!  He is happier than Julie F*cking Andrews when she spins on a mountain top.

F*ck yea, Julie! The hills are alive with what? That's the sound of MUSIC, b*tches!
F*ck yea, Julie! The hills are alive with what? That’s the sound of enrichment, b*tches!

Maybe foul language isn’t for you, but you still need that release.  Try imaginative interpretation; it’s another version of “earthiness” that I enjoy as a way to liberate myself from stress.  For example, I’m busy cleaning the lab and a co-worker (who doesn’t have HR on speed dial) asks me how I am…

Hey Mother Ocean, how’s it going?

I’m good but I’m busier than a two dollar hooker on half price Sundays.

See?  No foul language but lots of imagination… and Bonus!  They really get the point and laugh.  However, again… KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.  If they don’t talk like that in front of you?  Don’t talk like that in front of them.  Profanity is really only fun when others around you are scratching the same clandestine itch that you have for cursing.  Otherwise, you are just beating them over the head with a verbal hammer and will be rewarded with this…

F*******ck...
F*******ck…

In all honesty, while I enjoy cursing in general, it is totes more fun with a partner in lyrical crime.  I once had a curator that fancied telling people to “Go Scratch” and I would sing him “You Light Up My Life” as a tribute.  I also had a co-worker I adored and we would try to outdo each other every morning in a little argument rapid fire.  It was always about something stupid; we would joke about who cleaned the reptile enclosures better and it would culminate in me saying, “Dude, every word you say is f*cking dumber than the last.  F*ckwad.”  He would tell me that I was less interesting than his morning dump.  And then, I would shoot him with the hose.

You know, real “friends to the end” type of stuff.

Every. Single. Second.
Every. Single. Second.

I will take that tête-à-tête over the dutiful, “Mother Ocean, good morning!  Did you read the communication board this morning? You always forget…( tee hee).   Don’t forget to punch in on time and smile!”  That’s right about the time that sh*t is about to get real.  I once asked a room if they were challenging me to see how fast I could burn down a building with just the substances in the break room to use.  Did you seriously just remind me to f*cking smile?

Thank you.  Thank you, little 8 lb. baby Jesus in a scratchy little manger, for my co-workers that will then allow me to release the pent up aggression through words.  They are my saving grace.  Of course, the release happens far away from the petal pink ears of my other co-workers that were a razor’s edge from being unknowing contestants on “Extreme Overreactons; Florida-style“.

We breed crazy like no other. #proudFloridian
We breed crazy like no other.     #proudNativeFloridian

So, in summation, profanity isn’t for everyone and in order to secure your future positions (as well as your current), you must take care.  It must be used like the good dishes; they only come out for company that will appreciate them.  So, when you do find those wonderful mother f*ckers, make sure to tell them how much you love them and sing them a rousing rendition of “You Light Up My Life.”  Or, “F*ck You” by Cee-Lo.  They will delight in your gift of song because they speak your reckless language.  If they don’t, you will learn the hard way.

Game Over.
Game Over.

Until next time, Hugs and Bitchin’ Fishes, ya’ll!

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