It's not every day one gets to participate in a rescue, and it's not a bad way at all to begin an afternoon. It's also an opportunity to understand that, as sucky as you think your day is going to be, someone else's day might have the potential to suck way harder.
Had some business to wade through at the North Valley Mail Carrier Annex on Montano yesterday (Saturday), and the missus graciously agreed to drop me off before running her errands. I was going to be there all afternoon, and I'll admit to being more than a little surly at the prospect (I prefer my weekends free of obligations beyond those that require me to be upright and conscious for short periods; eating, bathing, etc.). We rolled into the parking lot and into a parking space, and the wife sat more or less patiently as I performed my standard ritual of scuffing my feet on the floor mat and whining “Do nawt want!” before exiting the vehicle.
As I rose to stand beside the car, I heard a small “mew!”. I looked around, expecting to see a cat in the lot. Several more plaintive “mew!”s came in quick succession, and by then the wife had heard them too and had gotten out of the car. Of course then the kitteh klamor ceased. What is it about felines that enjoy howling for attention when trapped somewhere, and then shutting up once you get up and start looking for them? Just one of many ways they choose to amuse themselves at our expense I suppose, like knowing intrinsically the length of your arm and then standing haughtily just out of reach as you try to pet them. Spiteful beasts. ANYWAY, we looked under and into the two other cars in the lot and then took a look through the sparse shrubbery nearby, but at that point we were pretty sure we knew where the creature was and our respective stomachs clenched with trepidation.
The cat was in one of the cars. Not in the interior meant for humans, reclined in luxury on a plush seat while it watched with languid glee as the bipeds scurried to and fro looking for it. I mean the interior of the car meant for spinning, third-degree-burn-inducing metal bits perfect for chewing up small mammals. The engine compartment.
Some stories make the news, feel-good pieces meant to make the viewer go “Awwww!”. Puppy in the landing gear, ducklings in the storm drain, happy firemen holding a sodden adorable bundle of fluffy cuteness they just saved from dire circumstances. I'm betting, though, that there are ones where the pretty lady with the microphone has to excuse herself from the broadcast to throw up behind the news van. We were seriously hoping for the feel-good piece. Years ago we discovered a stray cat that had had it's spine crushed (presumably by a car) and we had to take it to a clinic to be euthanized, something I hope is never necessary again. So as we tried to ascertain which of the two other vehicles in the lot contained the animal, we were also girding our loins for the possibility of horror.
An elderly gentleman came out of the post office and was understandably consternated when he found himself confronted by two anxious strangers. Not so understandably, he was less than interested in becoming involved in helping us (I despise people who prefer to shut their eyes to anything that doesn't personally benefit them; I briefly considered explaining to him that he might be even more inconvenienced if he'd later have to hose cat parts off of his engine block, but by then he'd already switched on his engine and backed out).
Fortunately in very short order the owner of the remaining vehicle appeared, and he was much more open to the suggestion that his car harbored a stow-away. As a matter of fact, he said, he'd heard noises as he prepared to leave home that morning but assumed they were made by birds nearby. Our conversation was interrupted at this point by a renewed effort on the part of the kitten to make it's presence known, and erased all doubt as to it's location. At this point, our friend Gerald appeared; we'd made plans to meet at the post office.
The owner raised the hood of his car and we were all gratified to see no evidence of roasted kitteh on the engine block. The “Mew!”s had increased and we quickly realized that the unfortunate youngster had wedged itself head-down near the rear of the right-side headlight. No way could any of us reach in from overhead. Crap. Bumper surgery was in order. By this time, another passer-by stopped to lend moral support and a towel in which to swaddle the critter once freed. Gerald was able to wedge his car key into one side of the bumper molding and pry it away, and from there seize the wailing young feline. Success! Bumper replaced with no damage, handshakes all 'round. If I'd thought then to ask names I'd include both the owner's name and the passer-by here, but I didn't think of it. Yeah, yours too, Old Not-My-Problem Man.
Released kitteh does not necessarily mean happy kitteh. Over the course of the next three minutes the little scamp managed to escape twice to go bounding off to parts anywhere-but-here. At one point, when finding itself cornered, it actually launched itself UP the side of the building, hence the inclusion of “Jackie Chan” in the list of possible names for him (or her; I still don't know). Other names: “Camaro” and “Bumper”. “Lucky” is cute but hackneyed.
The missus stowed the kitten, now snuggly wrapped in the towel, into our car and headed home while Gerald and I squared our shoulders for the afternoon's toils. Later she called to let me know that she'd found new owners for the little waif, a couple who had answered our online offer to sell our Xbox. They are due to collect sometime this afternoon. Of course we'd love to keep it, but there are four other entities in this household besides the spousal unit and me, and at least one of those would submit a “HELLZ NO!” vote if polled, I'm sure.
Danger Kitten is safely snoozing in the wife's lap in the living room, and I'm contemplating lunch. It's yet another gorgeous day outside. Perhaps a walk or a ride on the Bosque is in order.
Go Out and Enjoy.