"Just Too Scary"
Cian sighed. The Darigan Usul stared into the bustling streets of Neopia Central from his spot sitting on a bench. You would think that in a place so filled with shops, it would be easy for a hard-working pet to be able to find a job, but that was not always the case. Cian had been searching for days, eagerly showing shopkeepers his well-planned resume and asking if they would be willing to consider hiring him, but nobody was. The problem wasn't his attitude or his skill set- no, it was something a lot more complicated than that. Apparently, being a Darigan pet, he was just too scary looking for the bright and colourful shops of Neopia Central. The thing was, Cian knew he was meant to be Darigan- it just felt right. Being any other colour would feel awkward. On the other hand, he really needed a job to earn enough neopoints to support his family. Could he really compromise himself for a job? Could he really compromise helping his family for himself? The truth was, he had no idea just what he needed to do, and it was making him feel more confused than ever.
Cian pulled out his list of places where he could work, and the lack of remaining options was not looking good. He could try to see if they would hire him at the Second-Hand Shoppe, Hubert's Hot Dogs, Health Food, and Usukiland, and that was about it.
"Well," he mumbled to himself, "my best bet is probably to start with the Second-Hand Shoppe. Maybe they won't care what colour I'm painted." With that, he folded up his list and got up, starting to walk in the direction of the Neopian Plaza. It was a little less crowded than the Main Shops, although there was a buzz of activity near Pizzaroo- they probably had a sale or something. Cian made a mental note to check that out later.
After walking for a little bit more, Cian found himself in front of the cardboard-box shaped building that was easily recognizably as the Second-Hand Shoppe. He took a deep breath, nervously holding his resume, and opened the door. A bell rang softly, and a Ruki looked at him through oversized glasses. The store was cluttered with boxes upon boxes of random wearables- Cian wrinkled his nose at the scent of dung- that were all hastily labelled with titles that didn't seem to match the contents.
"Can I help you?" the Ruki asked politely, shuffling around a few papers on his desk. Cian walked up to the desk and placed his resume on it.
"I was wondering if you were hiring. I'm looking for a job you see, and-" The Ruki cut him off with a sigh.
"Look, kid, I appreciate you coming here, but I've got this all under control. You could always help out by making a donation, though." He pointed at a worn cardboard box that had "DONATIONS" written in large letters across it.
"I'll remember that," Cian said, dejected. "But is it because I'm painted Darigan? Because everyone who I've asked said that I'm too scary." The Ruki sighed.
"Look, kid, you seem like a nice guy. I would love the be able to give you the answer you want, but we're non-profit and I don't have enough money to pay employees. We run mainly off volunteers. I'm sorry." He looked at Cian sympathetically.
"The other shops might be concerned you would scare people off. Look, I'm just being honest with you here. If you were in the Darigan Citadel you would have a really easy time, but... well, Neopia Central is tourist-based, and they have a certain image they're going for. I'm really sorry."
"It's ok; thank you anyways."
The Ruki smiled and Cian walked out of the shop, feeling defeated.
"Maybe I should just paint myself faerie or something," he muttered, beginning to walk towards his next destination: Hubert's Hot Dogs. He could see some young neopets playing around the rainbow pool as he was walking past it, shouting with delighted joy as an Xweetok emerged from the rainbow pool, freshly painted pastel. A Hissi splashed out with a stunning Maraquan coat, "Oohs" and "Ahhs" accompanying their big moment. An adorable baby Chia waddled out, soon surrounded by their excited looking family. Cian sighed, thinking of the time he was painted. It was a lot less ceremonious. He had been brought to the rainbow pool on a dreary day, but even then the place was as crowded as ever. Pets emerged painted colours that were pretty, adorable, and dashing... colours that were stunning and breath-taking to look at.
Cian had been only seven years old then, just a little green Usul clutching a Darigan paint brush with an excited look on his face. He remembered jumping in the waters with the paint brush, dipping it in the water, and feeling like he was floating on a cloud... the paint swirled around magically, transforming him. When he emerged, he was smiling from ear to ear. His family was happy for him too, of course, but everybody else seemed to have a different reaction. Some other young neopets backed away, looks of terror on their faces. Parents pushed their babies away. He even heard some neopets make rude comments like "So, what do you think's wrong with him?" and "Neopia has enough problems already without pets like that." No matter how delighted he was, it had hurt. And the disapproval of his choice still hurt now.
When he eventually reached Hubert's Hot Dogs, resume ready, his question was met with a tell-tale head shake and a sigh.
"I'm sorry, but the only jobs I have here involve dealing directly with customers, and I don't want to scare anyone. We get a lot of little ones coming here," Hubert said apologetically.
Cian gave a polite nod and carried on his way. The Quiggle at the Health Food shop met him with the same response.
"Sorry, there just isn't a place for you here. Have you tried the Darigan Citadel? You'd fit right in there."
By this time, Cian had pretty much given up, and discouragement hung above him like a grey cloud. The last place on his list was the most unlikely option of all. After all, why would Usuki Land, the place of bright colours and all things happy and girly, want to hire a Darigan pet?
Cian walked to the beautiful building that was Usukiland and pushed the door open with a sigh. The Blumaroo at the desk looked up at him and smiled.
"Could I help you?"
Cian pushed his resume across the desk.
"I was wondering if you're hiring. If you think I'm too scary for the job, that's ok..."
"No, no, this is perfect! We're looking for more staff!"
"You don't think I'm too scary for the customers?"
"Not at all! Usukis are so popular because they're all different. There are girly ones, pretty ones, scarier ones... here, we embrace differences. They're what make us who we are."
Cian smiled brightly. Of all places to accept his Darigan paint, it was Usukiland! He was over Kreludor with joy: finally, he could at least have the chance to get a job and show someone the resume he had spent days putting together! Finally, someone was looking past the surface.
"Thank you! And do I ever have a resume to show you..."