People drain me; the more I’m around them, the more I want to be away from them. This obviously excludes family and my husband. But animals make me feel fantastic and the more I’m around them, the more I want to be around them. The only exception to the people rule is when I get to talk to people about animals.
Working in an animal field, though, you tend to work with kindred spirits, and you can commiserate with other non-people people. We go into the animal care field because we don’t like being around people–people are selfish, they are stupid, they are cruel. And that’s just to each other, I won’t even begin discussing how selfish, stupid and cruel they can be to an animal that lacks the ability to fight back for themselves.
Recently while I participated in a very wonderful, educational day at the other place that I volunteer, I took one look at our Director and designated myself a “floater” for her, rather than where she asked me to go, because she looked frazzled, nervous and apprehensive. I recognized it from my own recent experience with my own first huge event for MRC. Because I was a floater, sometimes directing people to the talks, sometimes having a bird on the glove, sometimes supervising the junior volunteers, I had an opportunity to observe my peers and co-workers. There were some that were people-people and some that were animal-people. It was very apparent by the roles they took and how they handled the public. Many of my wildlife rehab peers are very much animal-people, with a few people-people mixed in, which is not much of a surprise.
But I love taking care of the animals and I love telling people about them as well. And the more that I know about something, the more excited I am to tell others about it. Because I feel like the information I know is so incredibly cool that everyone should be as amazed by it. The nice thing about being at places like MRC and Lake Erie Nature & Science Center (LENSC) is that people come to these places and book programs because they’re already interested in the birds and animals. Getting them excited about even more information about them is easy, and so I love doing these sorts of programs and encounters. I can never get enough of having a bird on my glove or an animal in my hand and talking to people about it. It’s partly getting people excited about the animal, but for the most part, it’s about the contact and interaction with the animal–especially when we’re talking raptors.
Despite how busy and long the day was, I didn’t leave LENSC feeling drained at all, not in the same way that I feel after only four hours working as a Starbucks barista. Being with the animals recharges me even while I spend time around people, and I always come home from MRC or LENSC maybe feeling a little physically tired depending on what I’ve done, but never emotionally or mentally tired the way I do after Starbucks.
I am an animal person, not a people person and I’m proud of that.