A whale could destroy a starfish in a millisecond

The letter request:

Five friends, from four different cities around the world, organise a NYE reunion at the zoo. We part with a sizeable sum for a prime fireworks position in the ‘gold’ area to maximise fun, view, and minimise toilet and drinks queue time. But on arrival we were greeted by a long bar queue that didn’t seem to be moving. The first 40 minutes, and regular intervals thereafter, were spent in the queue rather than enjoying views with friends. 


The letter:

Dear Zoo,

Colours do not always represent status. In grade three I was in a maths groups called the Blue Whales and my friend was in a maths group called the Red Starfish. Because both blue and red are top-shelf colours with no inherent value attached to them – and because whales and starfish each have their own wonderful and unique attributes – my friend and I didn’t know which group was the top group and therefore which one of us was smarter at maths. So I get it, colours do not always represent status. Except when they do.

Let’s consider the Olympics. There are three winners. The lose-i-est of the winners is represented by bronze, the middle one is represented by silver and the mother-of-all-winners who triumphs over everyone else is represented by gold. That’s right, gold = number one.

Why gold? I guess because it’s precious and rare and for many centuries has come to represent something special. Gold medals, Gold Class at the movies, Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket … I don’t know about you but when I hear the word ‘gold’ I think of an experience that’s elevated above the ordinary everyday. Which is why, when four friends and I – who, between us, live in four different cities around the world – were deciding where to celebrate our reunion on New Years Eve we chose the Gold Reserve section of the Zoo.

We forked out a tonne of cash and, in return, were expecting an experience elevated above the ordinary everyday. How wrong we were. On arrival we were greeted by a slow serpent-like queue to the bar. We spent our first 40 minutes – and regular intervals thereafter – lining up. When we finally got to the front it was clear that the staff had not been properly trained – many of them didn’t know what drinks were on the menu, how much they cost and where they were kept. On top of this there was no clear service procedure which meant there was a bottleneck of four staff standing around waiting while another staff finished a transaction.

And not to get all OH&S on your arse but there also seemed to be safety hazards for the bar staff with cords and cables dangling over doors that opened in different directions and required careful manoeuvring. All of this added to the slow service and massive queues which, for everyone there, meant less time with friends enjoying the view and more time swapping complaints with total strangers.

Bottom line: if you don’t allow BYO to an event on New Years Eve then you have to be prepared to sell and serve drinks efficiently and effectively. The Gold Reserve section should have ensured a special night with extra service. As you know the tickets weren’t cheap and, as neither food nor alcohol were included in the cost, what we were really paying for was the experience. We paid a premium to avoid long queues. Thankfully our night wasn’t completely ruined, the view of the fireworks was great, but if you’re going to bandy the colour gold around, you have to be able to step up onto that top podium.



P.S. Obviously, a whale could destroy a starfish in a millisecond so it was pretty clear to me that I was in the top maths group but I don’t think my friend knew and I think that was for the best. And it wasn’t the colours that gave the game away.