My kids and I have always loved the zoo.  We go to any zoo we can get our hands on, but our “home” zoo is Brookfield Zoo.  Ever since they were little, we’ve gone for day outings, they’ve attended classes, and we’ve explored every inch of that place.  Even though we’ve moved further away from it, it’s still our favorite.  In fact, just a few days ago, we returned for a visit.  The sun was shining and the temperature was cool – perfect for a day of watching animals.  And, judging by the crowds, we weren’t the only ones who thought so.

This recent trip once again reminded me how much I love animals and creatures of all sorts… but reeeally made me question humankind.

In other words, I left there so annoyed with how some people act when they’re in places like the zoo.  I’d like to tell you what I “love” about the behavior of some of the humans I had the “pleasure” of interacting with at the zoo yesterday.

So I’ve written a guide on how to be an “awesome” adult at the zoo.

Walk In the Middle of the Path

Now, we all know that society has general traffic patterns on paths and sidewalks.  Typically, you stay to the right.  No matter what, you make room for others.

Or DO you?  I suggest, no.  Do no such thing.  Just walk right down the middle of the path.  That’s right – not on one side or another.  Now, if you’re really going to master this, walk “big” – meaning, take up as much side-to-side space as your stroll as you possibly can; let those arms flail.  If you’re with a group, be sure to walk all in a line, as then your Path Power is increased by taking up the entire path.

And, of course, walk s-l-o-w-l-y.  If YOU are not in a hurry, then NO one is in a hurry.  They will remain behind you as you slowly saunter your way to the next viewing area that you plan on monopolizing for awhile (see below).  They can wait.

As You Walk, Stop Suddenly

This technique is most useful if you are pushing a stroller.  If the child in the stroller you are pushing (preferably down the middle of the path, and slowly) needs something, or if your body suddenly recoils with the realization that you haven’t checked your Instagram in 20 minutes, be sure to stop as suddenly as you can.  And I mean, slam on the brakes, baby!  Sure, SOME people may pull off to the side out of the way of others to deal with the pressing issue of the moment, but not you.  You, my Soldier of Inconsiderateness, will come to a sudden and brisk halt right in the middle of the flow of people.

The people behind you can just deal.  They can stand and wait while you get out your child’s sippy cup or return a text to your mother.  That’s their problem, not yours.  Because, remember – you got this prime middle-of-the-path spot.  Heck no are you pulling over for anyone!

Scooters Are All Powerful

If you really want to Rule the Zoo, rent a scooter.  Because, by golly, if you’re on a scooter, that zoo is YOURS.  You can push through any crowd and everyone must succumb to your need to get by.  Yes, perhaps there is a medical condition requiring the use of this rented scooter (perhaps), but your need to get around has now transformed itself into All Powerfulness!  You are going where you are going, and everyone must step aside!  Now!

When my girls and I were at the zoo, my five-year-old suddenly darted off and was swallowed up by a crowd in awe of a swimming grizzly.  And, man, did I learn MY lesson.  Here I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could grab ahold of my seven-year-old’s hand as I quickly called out to my younger one and strained to see where she went, but NO.  I was very kindly corrected of my place in society by the gruff “ExCUSE us! Hello!!” directed toward me.

I turned and saw that someone in a scooter had a dire need to book it over to the polar bear eating ice and [gasp!] I was in its way!  I so very selfishly stopped for a split-second to peer after my missing little child and totally forgot that I could possibly be in the way of a scooter.  I humbly bowed and allowed them through and continued my lowly mission after they had passed.

Who Cares If the Kids Can See?

Now, obviously, zoos are not just for children.  There is so much for people of all ages to learn and, in fact, in many cases, children just don’t fully appreciate certain zoo experiences.  And yet children can get so much education and just pure enjoyment from watching the creatures on display.

But, really, who cares?  You have Path Hogged like a boss, and now you’ve reached your destination.  So, by all means, Adults, stand right up to the glass or fence and block the view for all the little ones.  I mean, sure, you COULD take a few steps back and let the little children get in front of you – it doesn’t lessen your viewing experience by any means and then the kids can actually see.

But what’s a trip to the zoo if you can’t actually fog up the glass with your breath?  Wrap your hands around the railing?  Let the kids wait to see – they have a long life ahead of them.  It’s your RIGHT to stand as close as possible and make it impossible for others to see around you.  Don’t let any whiny kid or his/her sighing mother tell you otherwise.  Stand your privileged zoo ground!

Take As Long a Turn as Possible

Speaking of blocking the view of others – it might work out okay if you made it quick and let others get in there too.  But then remind yourself that you matter, gosh darn it; and this is your moment!  Whether it be in front of a small aquarium that you’re completely blocking with your body, or in a special viewing hole… almost ESPECIALLY if it’s a spot where just one or two people can fit…. you take your time!

Watch the water flow and pretend you’re one with the fish.  Feel the wind in your hair and pretend you’re napping with the lion who hasn’t moved in 3.25 hours.  Whatever it is you’re enjoying, TAKE YOUR TIME.

You may hear the mothers and fathers tell their little children, “Stand here and wait your turn.  He/she will be done in a moment.”  Let such comments fuel your staidness and renew your resolve.  Yes, the little ones WILL wait their turn, because this is YOUR turn and it can be however long you want it to be.

And, of course, if you’re taking photos, you have a built-in reason to let no one else have a turn – you need to wait for the correct lighting, the right pose, before you click that little button on your phone… because, as we all know, you’re totally going to get that photo printed and do something with it.

On Holding Doors:  Don’t

What is it with people expecting you to keep your hand on the door until they can get their hand on the door?  I mean, seriously.  It’s THEIR problem that they brought a stroller… let them swing that sucker around and walk backwards through the door.  The time it takes for you to stand there and keep a hand on the door until the stroller pusher can reach forward to take over the door is precious time that you could be sitting smack dab in the middle of the fish “bubble” window.  Seriously!

When we were at the zoo, I watched as a woman pushing a nun in a wheelchair made her way toward a door someone was going through.  I kid you not – a nun in a wheelchair.  Now, I’m not even Catholic and even I feel some inner drive to be on my best behavior and overly nice when I see a nun.  So I thought, “Well, this man is going to hold the door for a second so the lady pushing the nun can get ahold of it.” Little did a know what a master of Zoo Superiority said man was – he was NOT going to hold that door, not even for a nun in a wheelchair.  His eyes took them in and his brain instructed him, “Must continue.  Cannot be slowed down by the Godly” and he took off.  So I, being a sucker, ran forward and grabbed the door just before it smacked the nun’s very sensibly-clad feet and held it open for them to pass through. Clearly, I have some learning to do.

And if you’re a TRUE Master of Rudeness, you will rush through a doorway just as someone is holding it for someone else.

I got to see this mastery in action.  I was holding the door for my little ones and a Woman on a Mission cut off my children and got herself through that doorway (only to stop abruptly in front of us to look at her map).  It was true artistry.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Teach Your Kids Courtesy

Maybe YOU had to suffer under the shackles of courtesy as a kid, but no way are you putting your own children through that.  And you shouldn’t, either.  Let the losers of the world worry about being kind to each other – YOU are going to teach your children that they matter more than anyone else.  Obviously.

During our zoo trip, I was amazed at how often I’d hear the unmistakable sound of a gaggle of kids running up behind us, and I’d just know: this gang of Somebodies was about to cut off our little family of Nobodies.  Whether we were headed to a doorway or an activity center, a concession stand or a viewing spot, the sound of their feet hitting the pavement was the sound of Future Inconsiderates on the path toward a life untethered by etiquette.

As my girls and I started to enter the “monkey building” (it’s technical term, I’m sure), my arm was just reaching for the door when I heard a group of kids coming up on us.  I heard a woman call out one of the children’s names and, being as ridiculous as I am, thought the child was about to get a reminder to not cut in front of people.  Obviously, I’m still learning.  Instead, the message called out was, “Hurry up and save me a spot to see the big ones!  Go on!”  And so we pulled back as four kids pushed (one of them literally) in front of us, and through the door (if you are wondering if they held the door, you still have a lot to learn) and proceeded to weave through everyone else who was walking through the building in a orderly fashion.

Later in the day, as I stood in a restaurant, balancing our overpriced lunches on a tray and keeping my girls occupied as we waited off to the side for a table to free up, I saw one getting cleaned off!  I kept my youngest from running up to it, telling her, “We don’t want to rush them.  Just stick next to me.”  And then the three of us walked up and hovered by the table – I caught the eye of one of the diners leaving the table and she smiled, silently acknowledging that, yes, we can have the table.  I was so happy it worked out and started to move the tray to set it on the table before the bottles of water rolled of it.  Silly me.  A parent opened the door of the restaurant and shoved her kids in, instructing them, “Grab that table!  Get it!” and in they ran, one of them actually stepping on my toes, to complete their Mission of Rudeness.

A Zoo In Many Ways

As we left the zoo, I reflected on all I had learned that day.  Even as I drove through the parking lot toward the exit, I found myself having to drive at about 2 mph behind a group of people walking down the middle of the parking lot aisle, all in one big line, with not a care in the world.  And I realized, sure, I can learn about animals and such at the zoo but, really, there is a whole different way of living to be learned from the zoo goers.

As I very slowly drove along and caught site of someone throwing their baby’s used diaper onto the parking lot, I smiled to myself and thought, “Maybe the zoo is backwards from how we think of it and the joke is on us Humans”