The closest I’ve ever come to admitting my obsession with bullies came this week. As I was walking toward the Men’s Room, my cell phone rang. Coincidentally, I was standing near a chair that was almost directly in front of one of our many fish tanks. As the conversation went on, my eyes were drawn to the fish. That’s when I noticed him; the biggest fish in the tank. He had little orange fins coming out of the bottom of its belly. This dude was out of control. He was chasing and biting every one of the fish in the tank, Alpha fish.
This attacking went on during my entire conversation. Chase, bite, chase bump, bite, chase; it was a flashback from my eighth grade year when some big, dumb junior used to grab my hat and throw it around the bus. Then, the coward would take my lunch and smash it into a baseball sized, brown wad of inedible nothingness. He harassed me until I had one of my bigger friends threaten him one day.
Now, this fish was really getting me riled up. I was annoyed, then irritated, then exasperated, and finally infuriated. What the heck? This hospital is famous for treating its workforce, patients and physicians with dignity, compassion, and respect, and here was this bully fish chasing everyone around. No matter where they went in the tank, he swam as fast as he could to scare and try to scar them.
I went back to my office and ruminated for awhile about this aquatic creep, and my blood pressure kept going up until I could hear my heart thumping in my ears. No more. This fish had to go. I walked out to the tank and got the phone number of the fish tank maintenance people. It was then that I realized that all of this was pretty silly. It is simply what nature is all about, survival of the fittest. “Okay, alright, calm down, sleep on it,” I said to myself. It’s just a big, mean, despicable fish. It’s not a person. It’s not disrupting the balance of life. Just because it’s a wicked, shameful, loathsome, contemptible, wicked son of a #!%$ fish, there was no reason for me to continue to obsess over it.
That night, I kept waking up, thinking about that fish and all of the nice little fish who were being attacked, threatened, and terrorized because of this storm trooper. When I got to work, I walked into the office of the closest fish attendant, a wonderful employee who feeds them and makes sure the lights get turned on and off each day, and I said, “Get rid of the fish with the orange fins.” She smiled and replied, “Really?” “Yep, I want him fired,” I replied. “Send him to some other fish tank full of fish that are bigger than he is.” Just get him out of here!” She laughed quietly, and said something like, “No one is safe when you’re in one of these moods.”
That day, the fish tank attendant came for a visit, placed our aquatic terrorist in a big plastic bag, and said, “Don’t you worry, I’ll take him to a safe place.” Heck, safe was the last thing I wanted for this guy. Later that afternoon, I was standing in front of the other fish tank at our research center and what I saw was nothing short of a war. They made our orange finned guy look like Nemo. “What’s this all about,” I asked our receptionist. She smiled and said, “These are bad, bad fish. They are Cichlids, and all they do is chase each other all day, eat their young, and make life miserable." No leadership there. Fish tanks can be just like work. Guess it depends on who you have for a boss.HTML