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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

January 11, 2013

Working During the Flu Season

By Elizabeth Creith

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Life is getting back to normal at Animalia now that all the hoo-ha of the season has past. And I'm not talking about Christmas. I'm talking about flu season.

Come late fall and early winter, the flu goes around the schools, and the dictum comes from on high— children with the flu are not welcome at school and must be kept home.The same parents who keep their snot-nosed darlings out of school have no problem taking them shopping, where they smear their germy little noses on the aquariums, sneeze on the dog collars and generally spread the joy.

Flu shot? We'd need a complete course of inoculation against everything from the flu to the Black Plague to keep from catching something.

Both of David and I have been sick as well— I've never seen a dog as sick as we've felt. Snuffles, nausea, voices that sound like Tom Waits on a bender, sweats and trembles. I use a sinus rinse when I get a cold or flu, but this time my sinuses were so clogged that it was more like drowning myself without getting my hair wet.

Working while sick is no fun.
The thing about being the owners, and having the majority of the shifts to work, is that you simply can't call in sick. Oh, all right. I lie. Theoretically you can. In practice, the store would go to hell in a handbasket if at least one of us wasn't there. So we went to work, and we discovered some hitherto unknown things about life in the pet trade.

Large bags of dog food make a much more comfortable bed than you'd expect. Why don't they put this in the advertising? David and I took turns at lying down in the stockroom. My favourite was forty-pound bags of Active Dog, with a ten-pound Persian Cat Urinary Tract Care as a pillow. David preferred straight Adult Dog in the twenty-pound size.

You need really, really strong shelves, especially at handy leaning-on level. They should be screwed down, too, not just held in place by the weight of the premium bird-feed. If they aren't, your sinuses will try to exit through your eyebrows as you pick up the dumped bags.

A shot of Bushmills in the tea makes you feel better about the flu. If you can't face food, however, this concoction messes up your communication skills, especially for difficult questions like “Does this collar come in pink?” For this reason, use lemon and honey instead.

You can get seasick watching the filters in the marine tanks. Watching the ones in the freshwater tanks merely makes you lake-sick.

Our customers were very sympathetic, sometimes too sympathetic. The regulars would holler “Fifty medium crickets!” at the door and leave the money in the bucket by the sign that said “Plague! Keep Away!” I'm exaggerating. But it's true that the regulars kept their visits short.

The not-so-regulars regaled us with their own tales of having to work while sick. “Oh, it's just terrible, you know, having to work with the flu, why I remember one time when I....” We developed a system. One of us would hang off the reinforced shelf trying to look interested, or at least conscious, while the other said, “I'll go check on the dog food.”

One thing neither of us had was a backache after one of our little naps. Why aren't Sealy and Serta onto this?


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