Bugging Out

Written on January 18, 2014

Do you conquer your fears headfirst?

For my first volunteer shift at Wellington Zoo, I was given the task of wrapping little toys into individual packages for kids to open as “Lucky Dips” in the gift store, priced at $4 each.

I didn’t realize that I’d be wrapping my biggest fear.

The girl opened the box and all I saw were huge rubber insect toys. I’m pretty sure my eyes bugged (literally and figuratively) out with horror, but I graciously said it was no problem and that I’d be glad to do it. Beats being outside in the hot sun cleaning windows, after all.


My fear of fake insect toys stems back from childhood… for some reason, I could love on real bugs, but not the fake buggers. In fact, I go to great lengths to avoid the fake bug aisle in Target, and I sometimes flinch if I see them and they catch me off guard. Yes, I can throw myself off things and walk on ropes high above the ground, but I hate getting near fake bugs.


Anyhow, these bugs weren’t tiny, either. They were each the size of one’s entire hand. Flies, grasshoppers, beetles, demonic-looking butterflies… I had goosebumps throughout my entire five hours of having to wrap these nasty things. The worst part was dropping some accidentally and picking them up by only one leg… I jumped out of my seat, as if they were alive. Heck, I even blurred my vision on purpose so that I wouldn’t have to look at them when I was touching them. I’ve got issues.

By the end of my shift, I had wrapped close to 150 (or more) of these insects. I ended up finding the quickest ways to wrap them while still making them look presentable as gifts. I definitely haven’t gotten over my fear, but I was a lot more comfortable with having to touch and wrap them by the end than in the beginning.

Why do the red ones remind me of Earl of Sandwich?
Why do the red ones remind me of Earl of Sandwich?

The recurring thought I kept having through this process was, “How on earth is a little girl going to react when she opens this and finds a disgusting fly with red eyes staring at her?”

Maybe most Kiwi kids are immune to this. The worker mentioned that thousands of them sell per two months, and that various toys are a hit every time (with no complaints).

Perhaps I’m just being a big baby, but at least I came and conquered.


Who knew that when I moved to New Zealand, I’d end up facing something I fear most… and what are the odds of me getting assigned this task in an office by myself, right?

Have you ever faced your fears headfirst while traveling?

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