Choosing a Shopkeeper Can Be Daunting
It all started one day when Fruzia's family was supposed to go on vacation. His owner quite explicitly ordered the Plushie Zafara to find a decent shopkeeper to take care of the store. Pressed for time, Fruzia put an ad in the Notice Board, hoping to find one soon. It stated, in large black print, "HIRING! A shopkeeper for the Month of Swimming. Come by Fruzia's shop tomorrow morning for an interview."
"How hard can this task be? There are plenty of neopets out there that want a temporary job. Beats working at the Faerieland Job Agency anyway," he muttered to himself, arriving at the family's shop the next day to interview hopefuls. "All I need is one neopet to arrive and I'm done for the day," he said, noticing the sunny, cheery weather outside, characteristic of a typical morning in Neopia Central. The door opened and in wandered a tiny Baby Aisha.
"Hi, how are you?" Fruzia asked, walking up to her. Instead of answering him, she looked up puzzled by the greeting. "Can you speak?" Some indiscreet sounds followed from the Aisha, now sucking its pacifier. "Right... I'll take that as a no then--" The Zafara's reply was interrupted when in came another Aisha, scolding, "You know you're not supposed to wander off in public by yourself!" With that, both Aishas left, leaving Fruzia quite stupefied.
Seconds turned into minutes and those seemed to drift off rather slowly. However, Fruzia's ad wasn't left unanswered. On the contrary, it was answered too many times.
* * *
"So, what kind of experience do you have as a shopkeeper? I mean, why should I hire you?" Fruzia posed the question to an Usul fully decked out in thick makeup, wearing a purple sweater.
"I'm the most popular shopkeeper in all of Neopia. You should hire me. End of story."
"Well, I'll get back to you."
"Okay, but I can't guarantee I'll be available. I have a busy schedule." The Usul got up and left and was confronted with a huge mob of pleading Neopians, begging for an unknown reason. Fruzia couldn't really tell past the shop's glass windows. "I can't see why she'd be the most popular shopkeeper. Her attitude's not right." He shrugged.
* * *
"I didn't know it'd be this warm today," an Ice Bori gasped in short breaths.
"I'm sorry, I didn't know either." The Plushie Zafara handed him a towel.
"I'll need plenty of ice in here. I'd prefer if you'd freeze your shop's walls. I'd make a nice shopkeeper - just no fire neopet customers, okay?"
The Zafara took a moment to gather himself. "I'm afraid we don't have the neopoints to turn our shop into Terror Mountain. Sorry."
* * *
Gesturing excessively, a Chomby, with white paint on his face, showed Fruzia how wonderfully he could sell items. Without words, of course.
"Let me take a wild guess. You're a mime, right?" The Chomby nodded eagerly, pointing to potential customers outside and doing some sort of indescribable sequence with his paws.
"Maybe I should have listed some requirements in the ad. Uh, you have to speak to our Neopian customers." Throughout the interview the Chomby was smiling. Now, with it being turned into a frown, he dramatically exited the shop.
* * *
A glimmer of hope presented itself in Sir Techo of the Gourmet Club. It was all going well until..
"I'm rich and well off. I'm doing you a favor so I expect no junk items stocking."
"Define junk please."
"Anything less than 10,000 neopoints is junk."
Preferring not to reject him flat out, Fruzia stated, "I've seen many fabulous neopets today as well and I can't make up my mind just yet. So I'll neomail you if you're chosen."
"I don't do neomail. Neomail is for commoners."
"Err, I see. Then, I'll find you personally if you're picked to be shopkeeper."
"Thank you, young lad. Oh, I don't talk to commoners either now that you've mentioned neomail." The Techo, equipped with a long golden cane and cape, set off for higher endeavors.
* * *
Just when Fruzia had a moment to let out a sigh of relief, the door creaked wide open by itself, shutting as suddenly. The Zafara felt nervous for a second, relaxing when he saw no one in sight.
"Hello," a ghostly Draik crept behind the neopet.
After jumping from sheer terror, Fruzia whispered, "Are you really there or are you just a figment of my imagination?"
"Silly, I'm real. Well, as much as a ghost neopet can be," he chuckled.
"Right. Sorry about that. After today, I feel like I'm slowly losing my mind," he said as he checked the temperature in the room. It had dropped significantly from the moment the ghost appeared. "Look, as much as I'd love to hire you, I'm afraid you'd scare half of the neopets. And that's a risk I can't take. Sorry."
"Very well. It's time to go back to the Haunted House, I guess. Farewell."
* * *
"Why are you covered in black clothes?" Fruzia questioned a yellow Kau. Actually, he could barely tell it was a Kau since the clothing wrapped around almost all of the neopet's body.
"It's a special costume." The Kau hesitated before uttering those words.
"And I'm sure that expensive necklace you have there is also part of your 'costume', right?" Total silence followed for a while between the two as they eyed one another intently. "I may not be a Neopian genius, but my IQ is high enough to know that you're a thief."
Before the Zafara could do anything, the Kau moved itself out of the shop at lightning speed.
* * *
"Arr! Ye be selling some loot now, I'd hear? Me skills are the best around these here parts. Aye, they are!" A Pirate Eyrie with a rather long sword wandered in.
"What exactly do you mean by your 'skills'?" Fruzia was looking a tad bit confused.
"Ye be sellin' pirate loot, aye?"
"No, I don't have anything pirate related to sell."
"Arr, ya don't? I'd must have took a wrong turn, arr." Angry, the swashbuckler took leave of Fruzia, swinging his sword from side to side.
* * *
"Uhhg Uuuuuuhhhhgggg! Ugga, Uggh. Ugg!" A Tyrannian Chia with a bone in her hair grunted.
"Pardon me? I don't understand you!" the Zafara slowly enunciated.
"Ugga ugga. Ugg. Aka-bo! Ahh-gal! Uhhhhgg." The Chia was looking more and more impatient by the second, shaking her head side to side.
"WHAT?" Fruzia sighed. "I don't un--" But before he could continue, the Chia left, screaming more Tyrannian that, sadly, the neopet couldn't comprehend.
* * *
A yellow Blumaroo entered the shop with an enormous wooden sign that said "HUGE SALE" in white paint. "Finally, a neopet that looks sane enough to be our shopkeeper!" Fruzia contemplated to himself. "You favor fairly priced items?" he asked, pointing to the sign.
"NO. They have to be on SALE! SALE! I love sales! If an item doesn't sell soon, very soon, I'll keep pricing it lower, lower, lower, and lower, until it does! Hooray!"
"Sorry, that won't work with our shop. We'll sooner go broke," the Zafara shrieked in horror.
* * *
Another Blumaroo visited Fruzia. She looked like the previous one, that is, lacking a sale sign and being made entirely of jelly.
"You seem nice enough. Why should I hire you?"
"Because I'd like jelly neopets to be represented. After all, we come from Jelly World!" The Blumaroo smiled awkwardly, hoping for the best.
"A world filled with jelly? There is no such thing! Everyone knows that!" Fruzia couldn't help but laugh.
"I see how it is," the Blumaroo made of jelly cried hysterically, withdrawing from the shop and Fruzia.
* * *
After the hectic morning, the Zafara was ready to admit failure, closing up the shop to leave for vacation with his family. However, another guest knocked on the shop's door today. She was a Faerie Zafara.
Running out of breath, she paused before saying, "I'm sorry I'm late. I came from Faerieland when I saw your ad."
Fruzia didn't stop his activity to pay attention to her. There really was no hope left in him. "You wouldn't happen to be obnoxious, melting, rich, scary, thieving, lost, obsessed with super cheap sales or imaginary places? I see I can understand you so that rules out you being a mime, a baby, or Tyrannian."
"No, I'm not any of those things. Are you feeling okay?" The Faerie Zafara stared at him peculiarly.
Fruzia looked up, finally taking notice of this new neopet, and smiled. "Yes, I'm quite alright. I'm sorry if I came across crazy. It's been a hectic day."
"Already? It's only noon. Are you still interested in hiring someone to tend your shop?"
Without any further delay, Fruzia hired her, thanking her for allowing him to go on vacation. Returning home, he told his brother and sisters, "Choosing a shopkeeper can be daunting!" when they questioned his delay in finding one.