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A Day in the Life of a Health Nut


by lassie_nikki

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Aliya's Cybunny grin was subdued into a quaint and solemn frown, her brow furrowed.

      "That's right, class! Today is National Neopian Job-Shadowing day, a day that invites you to follow a working Neopian on a work day to see what their career is like." The excited and slightly fretful voice of their Shoyru teacher, Mr. Gray, seemed out of place in the dull, uninterested classroom. He continued, "You have all had plenty of time to plan who you will shadow and will soon be released to begin your journey! Who is excited?!"

      Not one of the twenty teenage Neopets raised their head from their desk, much less their hand to signal that they approved of the corny holiday.

      Mr. Gray, not bothered by the lack of enthusiasm, snapped his fingers and beamed. "Go ahead, everyone. The Neopets you will follow today are outside in the hall waiting to begin with you your expedition." He ushered the slouching children out of the classroom. Once they were all gone, he collapsed into the chair behind his desk and heaved a great sigh.

      The kids made their way out of the stuffy room into the much more crowded hallway, where parents and relatives or friends stood to retrieve their "shadower" for the day.

      Aliya slumped slowly into the hallway and scanned the aisle for the lime green Quiggle she would be trailing. Her long ears swung back and forth as her head flew right and left to find him. She had had no choice when it came to choosing the adult Neopet whose job she would be experiencing that day. Her mother had insisted on Aliya shadowing Veg, the Green Quiggle that controlled the Health Food store in the Bazaar. Aliya partly believed her mom was so set on the idea because Aliya's parents were strong health freaks, to say the least. They ate only vegetables or organic foods. The mention of an ounce of sugary goodness made her father nearly faint. Thus, Aliya had never experienced the delicious thing called chocolate. The other half to the equation, in Aliya's eyes, was that Veg was her uncle.

      Aliya would have rather followed the cheery Kiko that led the Chocolate Factory or perhaps the stylish Uni in charge at the Clothing Store. However, she had not even attempted an argument with her parents because she was far too lazy to argue over one unimportant day that would never affect her job choice.

      Suddenly, a bright green Quiggle with a badge that read "Veg" hopped out from a corner and beamed at Aliya. Aliya smiled weakly, trying not to be rude.

      Veg's voice was jolly and slightly shrill. "Why, hello there, Aliya! I haven't seen you since you were just a little Baby Cybunny. I've been working hard 24 hours a day to keep up the Health Store. Surprisingly, not many Neopians shop there since the Bakery opened."

      This last statement came across somewhat grim and irritated but the irritability went away almost immediately as Veg grasped Aliya into a strong bear hug. Aliya's cheeks flushed crimson in embarrassment but she politely hugged back.

      "Hey Uncle Veg! It's great to see you." Aliya forged a smile.

      Uncle Veg leapt forward, steering Aliya through the crowd of students and out of the door. "Let's get this show on the road."

      To Aliya's displeasure, her chipper Uncle held her soft paw and steered her around the roads of the Bazaar.

      She slowly pulled her paw away from his grasp. "I'm not a child, Uncle Veg. I'm practically an adult." Aliya ended the statement proudly.

      Veg smiled. "Alright then, that's fine." He winked. "We're almost there anyways!"

      They crossed the circular path that was paved through the Bazaar. They even passed the Chocolate Factory and Aliya's stomach grumbled in delight but was denied the privilege as Uncle Veg continued walking. They passed the Grooming Parlor, where Aliya eyed a Usul with pounds of Midnight Eyeshadow and Pink Blush poured on her face. Despite the ugliness that came with an overuse of makeup, Aliya eyed the Usul with envy.

      Finally, they reached the Asparagus-shaped building with double-doors. A sign with bold letters read "Health Food". Other health nuts were waiting for Veg to return, patiently standing outside the doors and chatting pleasantly.

      "This is it, this is my job!" Veg eyed the store with joy and love and Aliya thought he was beginning to tear up.

      Aliya, however, was not moved and rolled her eyes.

      They walked inside together. Veg put on an apron with a picture of an apple and then tossed one to Aliya.

      She wanted desperately to throw it on the floor but didn't want to seem mean. She reluctantly put on the apron and grimaced.

      "Now," Veg began, "come behind the counter so I can open up the store and you can see how to serve people."

      Aliya's shoulders hunched over as she made her way behind the spotless counter.

      "How do you keep this place so clean?" she asked as she glanced around the store. It was pretty boring, except for a few posters with corny health advertisements.

      One poster had a picture of a beaten up Uni with a black eye and read "Down in the dumps? Try fruit as a natural and healthy source to happiness!"

      Veg replied, "I stay here overtime to clean up or sometimes polish the counters while business is slow."

      Aliya had a sudden sense of guilt. "You really work hard here, don't you?"

      Veg smiled into the distance as if remembering a lovely memory. "Yes, my father worked here and wanted nothing more than for me to follow in his footsteps. I feel like I'm carrying on his dream."

      Aliya's guilt grew as her admiration for her Uncle did also. However, she still wished she were in the Chocolate Factory, tasting the delicious sweets. She knew that if she had been allowed to work in the Chocolate Factory today, everyone at school would be wonderfully impressed.

      Her daydream of Chocolate fountains and peanut butter mountains came to an abrupt end when Veg shouted an order from the counter. Aliya panicked. She had no clue where to find what her Uncle called Fresh Melon Cubes. She opened drawers and looked under shelves of food. Worst of all, a few more customers were walking in. All the pleasant chatters from outside the store had entered and were making orders with Aliya fretting in the background.

      Veg smiled. "Calm down, Aliya! People are patient here at the Health Food Store. The Fresh Melon Cubes are in the freezer." Veg pointed his Quiggle finger in the direction of a large door, which obviously led to the freezer.

      Aliya, feeling embarrassed that she had made such a big deal out of it, walked quickly to the freezer. Inside were shelves and mountains full of frozen fruits and vegetables. She glanced around the interior and finally spotted some tiny, cube-shaped, green-skinned fruits. She grabbed a handful of them and hurried back out to hand them to her Uncle. He took two of the three in Aliya's hand and handed it to the customer.

      "Try it, Aliya. It'll make you feel much better. Fruits are the natural energizer, you know. Much healthier than chocolates, of course." Veg then turned back to the counter to collect orders.

      Aliya hesitated but proceeded to pop one the mini-melons in her mouth. Being a Cybunny, she was used to her health food consisting of mainly bland carrots. However, the Fresh Melon Cubes were like nothing she had ever tasted before. They were sweet and tangy and gave her a boost of energy. Uncle Veg was right, she thought to herself, this is twice as delicious as chocolate. She realized that the only thing she felt after eating chocolate was bloated and lazy. Now she felt like bouncing off the walls!

      Aliya finally began to appreciate healthy foods and, most of all, her Uncle Veg. She decided that she would much rather work where it was good for her than work to impress school friends. As Veg shouted more orders, Aliya cheerily bounced and searched around the store until finding the food. She politely shook hands with and smiled warmly at the customers. The rest of her job-shadowing day with her uncle was a breeze; a fun breeze, at that!

      When all the Neopets returned to school the next day, the air was full of exciting stories being exchanged and memories of their experience poured from their mouths. Each student took a few minutes to stand before the class and describe what they had done the day before. When it was Aliya's turn, instead of hanging back grumpily, she hopped forward brightly and caught the attention of the students.

      "Yesterday, I followed my Uncle Veg to the store he owns: the Health Foods store." Aliya announced this with pride.

      Some of the students rudely giggled at Aliya but, nonetheless, she continued with her speech.

      "I learned that healthy foods are much better and more rewarding to us than chocolate or sweets. An occasional junk food is great for a snack but fruits and vegetables will make us all happier and more energized Neopets! I really enjoyed working in the Health Food store with Uncle Veg. Thank you." She bowed slightly, still beaming and took her seat again with her nose and floppy ears held high.

The End

 
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