prompt: Please see the Author’s Note at the end.
“I hate waiting.”
“Really? How odd,” said Casey. She glanced over her shoulder at Ben with a roll of her eyes before returning her attention to the CCTV screens in front of her.
“No, I don’t think you understand me,” Ben replied. “I. Hate. Waiting.”
“I get it,” she said. “I just. Don’t. Care.”
Ben growled and scrubbed his hands over his closely cropped hair. He spun his swivel chair in a full circle.
“I can’t even pace in here. If I can’t pace, I’m going to go crazy. What am I even doing here?”
“Nice long hallway right through there.” Casey pointed vaguely over her left shoulder. “Pace down to the break room and pace back with a couple of coffees.”
Ben huffed loudly in a way he hoped would convey his state of mind and stalked out of the room. Well, he intended to stalk. He was so keyed up with unspent adrenaline, he was afraid his stalking probably looked more like flouncing. Whatever. He really just needed to get out of that little room.
The coffee left in the bottom of the pot looked like something he’d seen in a fifties monster flick that later gave birth to whatever it was that was most likely to go up against Godzilla. The time it took to brew a fresh pot gave Ben some precious extra pacing minutes. He made forty-five laps around the perimeter of the break room before there was enough coffee to fill two mugs.
He varied his walking speed and step style in order to stretch out the return trip and was halfway back down the hall before he remembered there were cameras in the hallway, as well. He snorted and wondered if Casey knew anything about the Ministry of Silly Walks.
“You ever watch Monty Python?” Ben asked, as he came back into the room. He set one of the mugs next to Casey’s elbow and took his seat at the other end of the long desktop. “Anything happening yet?”
“She’s restless,” Casey replied. “Waddling, too.” She pointed to the center camera screen where the young, female okapi wandered around her barn. “It’s hard not to anthropomorphize, you know? Watching her trying to stand back up after she lays down is too much like watching videos of me before the twins were born.”
“Zuri would really have a hard time getting up and down if she was having twins,” Ben remarked. His little quest after the coffee had burned just enough energy to dispel the worst of his fidgets, but another hour of watching the uncomfortable animal walk around her stall would probably set him off again. “Let’s hope she decides to drop this calf tonight.”
“The vet is going in to check in about a half an hour, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. She thinks it’s likely to be another three or four days,” said Casey. She chuckled at Ben’s grimace. “Look at it this way. The live feed from Zuri’s barn has at least ten thousand viewers at any given time. Almost one percent of those viewers have used the donation button every hour.”
“You’re kidding,” Ben said. His eyes grew wide as he ran the math through his head. “Even with the minimum five dollar donation option, that’s more money in a week than we generally get in a month!”
“That’s right,” Casey said and smiled. “If the viewers are even half as generous after the calf is born, the zoo will have enough to begin construction on the new climate education center.” She let him think about that for a few minutes. “Still hate all this waiting?”
“Well, I guess I’m beginning to learn some patience,” Ben said. “Maybe Zuri will give me time to really get the idea.”
“That’s the spirit,” said Casey. She raised her coffee mug as if making a toast and winked.
Author’s Note: Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been tuning in to see the live feed of April the Giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park. Long before I ever started writing, I had the amazing good fortune to spend some time working in a non-profit zoo as teacher and as a keeper. The value of these live camera feeds (yes, I’ve also been known to follow the Decorah Eagles) is hard to calculate. Obviously, they increase awareness of the animal itself, but they also put the issues of conservation and stewardship right out there where it can’t be ignored. If viewers are inspired to donate to programs that support conservation of species and habitat because they have become interested in watching giraffes, eagles, ferrets, or whatever else there is out there to view, then I say, “Hooray for the internet!” If you would like to learn a bit more about okapis, here is the site I used to brush up on my facts. http://library.sandiegozoo.org/factsheets/okapi/okapi.htm They are lovely animals.