Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lucky On Ramp

I had the strangest experience driving home from work today. I was chatting on the phone with my mother. Traffic was very backed up, so I was crawling up the 80 entrance (at Bryant and 9th, or is it 8th? for you SF peeps). I slowly follow the curve to the right, where you can just start to see the 101 traffic up ahead when I see this little gray thing darting between the cars. We're going so slowly I can stare out the window and I see it again. It's a tiny little kitten, can't be more than four or six weeks old, running in between the traffic, ducking under cars. Holy shit, I think. This animal is going to get killed. There's a right shoulder but it's going to end in about ten feet. I can call Animal Control, I think. No, they'll never find it and besides it'll get smushed before that. "I'm okay, but I gotta go," I tell my mother and hang up.**

I pull over, get out of the car and walk back toward where I last saw the kitten. It has now jumped up onto the ledge, with a big drop to the ground below. Then I see a woman walking toward it very slowly, then I see a man next to her. Only then do I see their car--they've pulled over as well. Shrugging out of his jacket, the man sidles up to the kitten, and throws the jacket over it. The kitten starts immediately flailing like a Tasmanian devil, but he keeps a grip on it and thrusts the wriggling bundle into the back of their Subaru Forester. We all look at each other for a second. "Are you okay to take this kitten," I ask. They say yes. "Thanks for stopping," the woman says, putting her hand on my shoulder, and then we all drive away.

Other than the inherent weirdness of seeing a fluffy kitten on the concrete slab of a highway on-ramp is this: no one else stopped. And for a second, I almost didn't, either. But I knew I would hate myself so violently when I later thought about this kitten scared out of its wits and possibly dying a slow death of awful internal injuries on an 80 entrance ramp and that was pretty much it. I've not a clue what other people could have been thinking as they drove past and didn't stop.

On the positive side, this experience made me realize that I might actually find my next cat in this very random non-voluntary way. Since the idea of going to a shelter and being confronted with the non-Miss Kittyness of all of them is too horrendous to entertain, the idea that a cat might be foist upon me in such a way is tremendously appealing.

**Why it's important to say "I'm okay," before you say "Holy shit!" and hang up on your friends. One day I was walking home from work and headed for the library. It so happened that there was a bomb threat that day to some nearby building so the block around the library was cordoned off. I was talking on the phone to Liz, telling her all this, and my plan to walk instead to a branch library that was near my house. As I was walking along, I saw a woman get hit by a car while she was crossing the street. When I saw her fly through the air and land on the road with a horrible thud, I yelled, "Holy shit!" and hung up to call 911. Poor Liz reasonably thought something happened to me since the last thing I had told her involved a bomb threat to the area in which I was walking. Of course she's calling me frantically but I'm not picking up because I'm on hold trying to get through to 911.*** Then I see that Loyal Reader from WA is calling, no doubt worried that I'm lying in a heap of rubble but I have to stay on the line. Why am I on hold while this woman in front of me may be dying, her take-out Chinese food all over the hood of the minivan that hit her, he shoes laying in the road? I never made it to the library.

***I don't know if this is the case elsewhere but apparently here if you call 911 from a cell phone, your call gets routed to the Highway Patrol, not your local dispatcher. Believe it or not, when I told the Oakland FD how long I was on hold with 911, I got a lecture about how I should program the local emergency numbers into my phone. This is fucked, I thought to myself, but you know what? I did it.


Anonymous said...

melg- youv'e had quite a dramatic week! was the lady ok? lynchb
by the way-joy didn't tell off the hasselbeck chick, at least not that i saw or have been able to suss out on the internet

Professional Critic said...

hi lynchb--joy does seem to stay out of controversy, despite her seemingly devil-may-care attitude. must be the key to longevity on that show--isn't she the only one left besides babs?