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Infinitely Better Than A Dusty Old Sofa

, , , , , , | Friendly | December 28, 2021

I have a weird knack for finding unusually valuable things, especially when I’m not looking for them. Several times, I’ve grabbed an interesting-looking book from a free book box only to find out later it’s worth anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Secondhand furniture, too, and thrift store jewelry — I have a weird talent for picking a piece I think looks cool that turns out to be some fancy antique or valuable designer piece.

Probably my favorite example, though, found ME as I was taking a walk one evening.

Small Voice: “Mew.”

Me: “Huh?”

Small Voice: *Very insistent* “Mew!”

And out from under my neighbor’s hedge crawled a half-grown kitten in rough shape. Despite looking like he lost a cage fight with a rabid bear, he came right up to me and sat on my feet, meowing. So, I brought him home.

My boyfriend and I got him washed off, got the cuts cleaned out, and gave him some canned tuna, which he promptly inhaled, purring like a lawnmower. It wasn’t until the kitten was curled up on the couch that his fur started to dry enough for us to realize he had a very unique spotted pattern that we’d never seen before. He looked like nothing so much as a tiny leopard.

The kitten clearly had belonged to someone; he was very comfortable around people, and when we got a temporary litter box set up, he jumped right into it with a visible air of relief. With a coat that distinctive, we figured it shouldn’t be too hard to find his owner. We checked the county’s lost pet website. We asked the local animal shelter. We checked the town’s Facebook page. We asked the neighbor whose hedge he had been under. We checked the local bulletin boards. And we found… nothing.

The kitten, by this point, had made himself right at home, sleeping with us at night and pouncing on our socks, and neither of us objected to the idea of keeping him, so we decided to find him a vet while we kept looking.

Vet: “Well, he definitely got into a few scrapes but nothing that shouldn’t heal up. I’ll prescribe him some antibiotics just to be sure, and since we have no way of knowing if he’s been vaccinated, we should get that scheduled if you want to keep him.”

Me: “Sounds good. Any idea what breed he is? I’ve never seen fur like that.”

Vet: “My guess is he’s a Bengal cat. Maybe a Savannah cat, but he’s not quite leggy enough. You don’t usually see spotted coats like that outside of a few specific breeds, but there’s no way to tell for sure unless you wanted to get a genetic test done. He’s a handsome little thing either way, though, and clearly friendly.”

Me: “Has anyone reported one of those missing?”

Vet: “Not that I’ve heard. I’ll ask around, but he isn’t microchipped, either, so if you found him without a collar, I’d guess he’s just a stray.”

Armed with the newfound knowledge that our little rescue was probably a Bengal cat, we kept looking, and we still found no hint of who his owner might be. After a few months, we decided he was probably ours for good and scheduled a few more vet appointments for him.

The kitten was terrified of going outside and absolutely detested other cats — unsurprising, given the state we found him in — but was a sweet, outgoing little cuddlebug when he was safely inside with us. [Boyfriend] and I were relaying the story to a few friends who were over to visit when this conversation happened.

Friend: “He’s a Bengal?! Those things are valuable. You should show him!”

Boyfriend: “He’s probably a Bengal. We don’t know for sure unless we get him tested. He couldn’t be a show cat, anyway; he has too many scars from when he was a stray, and we don’t have any paperwork for him.”

Friend: “But you could get him tested like you said and prove he’s a Bengal! Then you could show him.”

Boyfriend: “I don’t really want to. It sounds like a lot of work for something neither of us are interested in, and more importantly, being stuck at a cat show all day would stress [Kitten] out. He hates other cats.”

Friend: “But the stud fees from a show-quality Bengal would be awesome!”

Me: “Well, he’s definitely not going to be a stud cat. He’s getting neutered next week.”

Friend: “What?! You have a Bengal, and you’re neutering him?!”

Me: “Well, yeah. We’re not showing him. We’re not breeding him. He’s a pet cat, and I want him healthy and mellow. And also, did we mention he hates other cats?”

Friend: “I can’t believe you guys!”

Up to this point, the kitten had been sitting quite contently on [Boyfriend]’s lap, but at this outburst, he flattened himself into [Boyfriend]’s arms and made a VERY unhappy noise.

Friend #2: *Laughing* “See? Even the cat agrees it’s a bad idea. Drop it, man. He’s their cat; they can do what they want.”

Our friend did finally get over it when it became clear that, yeah, our cat really does just loathe every other cat in existence and that going outside turns him into a shaking, yowling ball of stress. Six years later, his original owner still hasn’t shown up, we still don’t know if he’s actually a Bengal cat, and we don’t really care.  Designer breed or not, he’s our handsome furball, and he’s definitely my best find!

Better Than A Space Delivery Boy

, , , , , | Friendly | December 26, 2021

This was several years back, after the Mars rover Curiosity successfully landed on the planet, the first Mars rover that could dig up soil samples for chemical analysis. There was excitement about it all over the news.

My sister, parents, and I were out having lunch with our parents’ friends, a very extroverted couple who love to travel and meet lots of people. The conversation turns to the Mars rover.

Friend #1: “You know, we know one of the engineers working on that project! He’s one of the guys in charge of getting the soil samples with the rover.”

Friend #2: “Oh, they were all ecstatic over there when it landed.”

Friend #1: “They were! And you know what? This guy is so brilliant — he works for NASA, after all! — but when he told his dad that he wanted to study engineering back when he was in college, his dad said he’d never be anything but a ditch digger! Can you believe that?”

Sister: *Pauses* “Well… his dad was right. He is a ditch digger. On Mars.”

Everyone froze for a second and then burst out laughing. The friends agreed she was right and that they had to tell the guy what she said the next time they talked to him. We never heard back about a reaction, but I sincerely hope he got to go home and gloat to his dad about landing the best ditch-digging job in the solar system.

Call Backs Shouldn’t Just Be For Complaints

, , , , , | Right | December 24, 2021

I work for a popular coffee chain. It is not uncommon to receive complaints by phone after a customer has already left. When I answer the phone and hear, “Yeah, I just came through your drive-thru, and…” I prepare myself.

This time, however, I was pleasantly surprised. My very sweet coworker had recommended a drink to someone who didn’t know what she wanted to order. Not ten minutes later, the phone rang and the person on the other end started with the previously mentioned phrase, and then she went on to happily say that she loved the drink my coworker recommended and she just wanted to thank her for suggesting something so excellent!

We get so many complaints, usually about things that are petty or out of our control, that it was just so nice to have someone take that same kind of time to compliment us, instead. She will never know how much that made all of our days.

This Customer Is A Force For Stupid

, , , , | Right | December 24, 2021

I once simply read out the total cost of groceries for a customer, and because I get so used to the majority of customers having cards, I pressed the card payment button without thinking. When the customer started digging in her purse for change:

Me: “Oh, you’re paying with cash? My mistake.”

She raised her voice and started looking for backup from a queue of frustrated customers.

Customer: “I shouldn’t have to pay by card if I don’t want to.”

She wasn’t forced to.

Customer: “Would you want to be forced to use unsafe, slower methods to pay?”

She faced the queue, neck forward, staring at people around her with upturned palms. She still hadn’t fully packed her shopping.

Next In Line: *Frustrated* “Card is quicker and safer. You are slowing everyone down. Pack your bag. You’re wasting my lunchtime!”

The lady then packed silently with her eyes fixed on me, walked toward exit, and said:

Customer: “I shall not come here again.”

She clearly expected sympathy. The next customer in line said what we can’t say and told her:

Next In Line: “Good. F*** off.”

A Whole Plant Full Of Upstanding Citizens

, , , , , | Working | December 23, 2021

Back in the 1970s, I worked in a plywood plant with a crew of 300 men and women. The lunchroom had a few vending machines for soda pop. One day, the vending machine guy didn’t lock the machine properly and so people could get into it. Sometimes people didn’t have change, so we would see someone throw a $5 bill in and take change and their drink.

This went on for a while until all the drinks were gone.

A little while later, the vending machine guy came in. I happened to be in the lunchroom at the time. He realized the machine was not locked and went pale. He opened the machine and discovered that the coin box was full of money, tens and twenties even. He counted the money that was there. Everything was fully paid for and no money missing.

He looked at me, dumbfounded.

Me: “It made it easier to make change with the machine unlocked.”

He never failed to lock it properly after that.