October 5, 2021
Imagination, Day 36—A cat story
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
― Soren Kierkegaard
Did you ever stop to think about how many people work behind-the-scenes jobs at the airport? I have a friend who, before he retired, worked as a maintenance supervisor for Delta Airlines in the Atlanta airport.
You never really consider the fact that the planes have to be cleaned to high standards on a regular and frequent basis. We don’t think about the people who pump out the bathrooms that have served a lot of people for several hours over the course of a flight.
A most important group of people are the baggage handlers. They are charged with getting the right bags in the hands of the right people. But not all cargo on the plane is classified as baggage. There are many things that ride on a plane. I was told that HR stands for “Human Remains” and it is used for the boxed bodies that are shipped to other destinations for burial.
A lot of pets are shipped, also, and there are specially trained people who handle the loading and unloading of pets. In past days, there have been claims of pets being abused, starved, frozen, or otherwise mistreated. The pet handlers have been given an exacting job and they are very careful to follow the rules.
Sometimes the pet rules are difficult to follow and sometimes the handlers get in trouble, so they are extremely careful.
Danny and Ricky were two of these people.
One day they were unloading a cat crate from the bowels of a plane and Ricky hollered, “Holy crap. Come look at this, Danny.”
Danny ran over to where Ricky was looking into a cat carrier. “Sumbitch is dead.” He told his friend. “We’re going to have all kinds of trouble off’n this one.”
They talked a while and studied the situation. The lady who owned the cat was on a separate plane and wouldn’t be there until 3:00 that afternoon. It was 9:45. This was their last duty for a while and they decided to go to town and find another cat that looked just like the one in the crate.
They went to three pet stores and found similar cats but not identical. Frantic, they went to the animal shelter, made a huge donation, and received help finding just the right cat. They returned to the airport, took the engraved collar from the dead cat and slipped it onto the new imposter. They swore there was no way for anyone to tell the difference, and the cat was gentle and loving. What could go wrong? It was 2:48 when they carried the cat to the delivery gate. The lady, Mrs. Schrodinger, showed up ten minutes later. When she identified herself, Ricky went and got the cat carrier. He looked at the lady and smiled.
The lady looked into the carrier, stepped back, and said,
“This is not my cat.”
Ricky said, with confidence, “Of course it’s your cat. The shipping form identifies it as a “orange and white tabby male cat.” Look in there and see if it ain’t the same cat. It has to be the same one.”
The lady said, “I don’t have to look again, this is not my cat.”
Ricky pretended to be indignant. “Just tell me one thing different between your cat and this one,” he said.
The lady looked at Ricky and smiled sweetly, “My cat’s dead.”