I was visiting Japan for the first time, so I went to a hedgehog cafe. If you’re unfamiliar with this, Japan has a bunch of themed cafes with live animals in it that you can hang out with while you drink coffee and snack on crepes.
We bought about 30 minutes of cafe time, ordered a drink, and a little glass tray with bedding, a wheel, and a little hedgehog in it got brought out to us and set in front of us.
My partner and I immediately regretted this decision, as the poor hedgehog (which we later found out are primarily nocturnal) was dazed, grumpy, and did everything it could to get away from the giant strangers trying to play with it.
We pretty much gave up the hedgehog after maybe five minutes of it stress-peeing and constantly trying to flee us in a panic. I paid, took our drinks to go, and left, and immediately felt bad for giving money to an establishment that treats animals like sideshow attractions.
I wonder why we’re so ready to use others – human or animal – in order to make a profit. How much more successful might we be if we were to create workplaces where people thrive and feel safe and welcomed, rather than workplaces that use people like tools instead of people?