The zoo in Central Park is a hidden treasure. Step into its doors and you forget that 8.2 million people rush around outside its entrance.
Kids run alongside the clear diving pool and laugh as the sea lions play catch. Around the corner, a bored polar bear sleeps just out of a camera’s viewfinder. Inside the penguin house, families crowd the display to watch tuxedo-clad birds hop from water to land in one effortless movement.
In the children’s area, visitors can purchase dried pellets from gumball-like machines to feed the goats.
Being in New York, I. and I are in for the whole experience. “Do you want some?” I motion towards the feed. Before I. can answer, a dad calls over to us.
“It’s broken! Don’t bother!” I gather from his money waving that the change machine next to the goat food dispenser isn’t working. The dad is flustered. He has a little girl about five and a little boy about two clamoring for quarters.
I know the type. Mom is off the clock. Dad is in charge. His manic enthusiasm comes across as a little frazzled, a little frantic, a little fried.
His eyes dart around for another change machine. Ah, a problem solver. His body language screams, “I’m in charge! I can do this just as good as mom! Did I mention I’m in charge?!”
Let me clarify, when I say flustered, I mean, this dad is about to become unhinged.
His plan of a relaxing afternoon at the zoo with his kids is heading south. THE CHANGE MACHINE ISN’T WORKING!!!
I dig into my purse and pull out some quarters for his kids. The girl gives me a smile and loads it into the machine.
“Where did they get those quarters?!” I should mention I am the only one standing anywhere near his children.
Mr. In Charge is a detective.
“I gave them to them.”