Rickey Raccoon; Shannon Holleran

 

My shift at Copycat, a 24-hour copy shop, was unremarkable until I discovered a raccoon in the backroom. 

I left my post at the front counter to fetch a ream of twenty-four-pound, ivory wove-finish cotton paper. The high-quality paper used for business proposals or high-stake reports. A customer requested this expensive paper to fulfill an online order.

I opened the door to the backroom and flipped on the light switch. Metal shelves along the perimeter of the room were stacked with reams of paper. Sitting in the middle of the room was a fat raccoon perched on its hind legs. It held a partially eaten hamburger with its front paws. 

I slowly backed out of the room and closed the door. 

“Umm, Zeb?” I yelled. 

“What’s up, Lily?” He sauntered towards me, twirling a pen between his fingers. 

“Do you know anything about a raccoon in the backroom?”

“A what?”

“A raccoon.”

I pointed at the closed door to the backroom. It was one in the morning, but I didn’t think I was tired enough to hallucinate a raccoon. 

“I know nothing about a raccoon,” he said as he nonchalantly opened the backroom door.

The raccoon stared at Zeb while it continued munching on the hamburger.

Zeb slammed the door shut. “Holy shit. There’s a raccoon in the backroom. Is it eating a hamburger? Like a person?”

“Yeah. I think it’s the leftover hamburger from my dinner break. He’s kind of cute, but I don’t think he should be in our backroom.”

Zeb was the night manager at Copycat. This fell squarely under his managerial duties. Working at Copycat was one of my part-time jobs. College was expensive and I needed the money. Luckily, working third shift gave me ample time to study for my classes.

“He?”

“He deserves a name, right? I think I’ll call him Rickey.” The name came to me as I remembered a song from my childhood about a Rickey Raccoon. 

“Well, he can’t stay in the backroom. Do you think we can lure him out?”

Without waiting for my response, Zeb walked back to the front counter. He twirled the pen between his fingers faster. He snatched a bookmark from the stack on top of the counter. It was a green promotional bookmark with Copycat’s contact information printed on both sides. 

He swung open the door to the backroom. Rickey was still eating the hamburger. Looking the raccoon in the eye, Zeb threw the bookmark at Rickey. The bookmark spun through the air like an ax. It hit the spot directly between Rickey’s ears and landed on the floor. He momentarily paused eating, but quickly resumed chowing down on the hamburger, ignoring the bookmark. 

“Why did you do that? Do you think he needed a bookmark for his favorite book? Or did he need our contact information for his future copying needs?” I joked.

Zeb shrugged. “I thought the bookmark might scare him out.” 

“Really?” 

Zeb didn’t have the brightest ideas, but this one was particularly dull. 

I walked to the front counter. Underneath the counter, next to my psychology textbook, was a snack-sized cup of mini Golden Oreos. I finished reading the chapter on operant conditioning earlier that evening. I vaguely remembered something about changing behavior by rewarding behavior. This gave me an idea on how I could motivate Rickey.

 I opened the cup and popped a few Oreos into my mouth. As I chewed, I walked around the front of the counter and propped open the front door. I dropped one Oreo about a foot outside the door. Continuing in the direction of the backroom, I created a trail of mini Oreos across the copy shop.

“What are you doing?” asked Zeb.

“I have an idea about how to motivate Rickey. Just wait and see.”

As I approached the backroom, there were two Oreos left in the cup. I held a cookie in my hand and clicked my tongue to get Rickey’s attention.

Zeb gave me a weird look.

“Hey, it works with my cat.” 

Rickey stuffed the last bite of hamburger in his mouth. He tilted his head and looked at me. 

I gently tossed the cookie in Rickey’s general direction. He quickly extended his paw, grabbed the cookie, and stuffed it in his mouth. I threw the last Oreo next to the beginning of the cookie trail leading outside.

I held my finger up to my lips. Zeb nodded.

Rickey cautiously moved towards the Oreo I just tossed to the ground. He stuffed the cookie in his mouth, chewing loudly as he scampered to the next in the line. 

As soon as Rickey reached the Oreo outside the shop, I unpropped the door. 

“Goodbye, Rickey,” I said softly as the door shut. 

Zeb turned to me with his arm extended to give me a fist bump. 

“Way to go, Lily! I think you deserve a raise.”

I smiled and shook my head in relief. This was a night I would never forget. 

Much to my surprise, the next night, Rickey appeared again. Apparently, he was hungry for more cookies.