Man, am I beat. You ever feel so wiped at the end of the day that the thought of going back to work the next morning is just unbearable? Yeah, well, that's the grind, I guess. I wish I had the energy to go out and throw back a couple of cold ones, but after a week of tracking female moose through the Alaskan wilderness, tranquilizing them, and placing VHF transmitters inside of their vaginas, all I want to do is flop down on the couch and zone out.
Hey, don't get me wrong, there are worse places to punch a clock than the Department of Natural Resources. Still, nothing will burn a guy out quicker than waking up at the crack of dawn in order to insert a bunch of vaginal telemetry devices into moose.
After a while, you start feeling like a machine: Get up, put on your boots and gloves, hike to a known moose trail, spend hours tracking a pregnant moose, immobilize her with a stiff dose of xylazine, and then try to stick your arm far enough into her vaginal cavity so that a $400 transmitter not only gets up there, but stays up there. Then repeat about 150 times.
Sixty hours a week, year-round, with hardly any vacation time. Sometimes it seems like my entire life is moose vagina, moose vagina, moose vagina, moose vagina, moose vagina.
I don't mean to sound like a complainer, but certain aspects of this job can really wear you down. See, moose don't necessarily want people to put transmitters or anything else into their vaginas. In fact, I'd say most moose vaginas are designed to prohibit just that from happening. About 50 percent of the time they fall the wrong way, which means you have to hoist her rear end up and hold it steady while the device stabilizes. And if that antenna isn't aligned flush with the vulva, well, you can just forget about it.
Honestly, I wish there were more hours in the day, but I guess I have to just grin and bear it. When you're on the clock, and you've got a roomful of vaginal implants and a federal grant that says they need to find their way into a pregnant moose by sundown, you have to march right up there, grab her by the tail, and get the job done, end of story.
But you know what they say. Another day, another dollar. Another moose vagina.
And it never gets any easier, either. The worst is when you get a "clencher." All animals have muscle contractions in their sleep, and the moose is no exception. Your arm can be up inside that vagina at just about the right depth, when bam! the whole thing clamps shut tighter than a Chinese finger trap.
Last thing on your mind at that point is whether or not the transmitter is in the right place, I'll tell you what.
And if a moose wakes up with your arm shoved up inside of it, Jesus Christ. You are in for some serious hurt.
When I finally get home from a long day in the moose vagina fields, ready to relax and unwind, what's the first thing I notice upon sitting down? The smell. Good God, the smell. You cannot get rid of it. Even if you manage to scrub it off your skin, it clings to your clothes like you wouldn't believe. Try and guess how every first-date conversation has gone for the past 15 years.
At night, as soon as I close my eyes, all I can see is moose vaginas parading by. It's like a shooting gallery, and Gary Patrick here has to put a long-range radio transmitter inside each and every one of them.
You'd think that after so many years of hard work, I might get promoted. Maybe I could analyze the data and study herd populations without actually being so hands-on with the moose vaginas. Well, it doesn't work that way. People have taken note of my skill and dedication, and now I'm the department's recognized authority on moose vagina. Terrific. Lucky me.
I'm a biologist. I love animals. But I took this job because I wanted to be close to nature, not all up inside of it. And the way things are looking, I'm afraid yours truly is going to be forearm-deep inside those things for some time to come.