… and not the online sort.
A few nights ago, Mrs. M needed to take some party supplies to her workplace for a baby shower the following afternoon. Mrs. M’s school is at the edge of Mondoville, next door to a farm and near a few trailer homes. It’s a touch isolated. Since it was after dark, I accompanied her to hold doors and generally be present. We made the delivery without incident, and because it’s relatively rural and late summer/early autumn, we saw the usual sorts of rural critters , like a frog hopping around, near the school. And as we were leaving the school’s parking lot, we saw a cat lurking near a storm drain in the driveway.
Mrs. M stopped the car and we got out to have a look at the cat. He ducked into the drain, and when she went to look, she saw that there were in fact two cats down there — the one we had seen and a smaller/younger one. She called me out of the car, we peered at them (Mondo: “Yep, those are cats, all right.”), and then we made our way home.
Fast forward to yesterday evening. Mrs. M comes in and announces that she thinks the smaller cat may be trapped in the storm drain, or at least unable to climb past the grate at street level. So she has decided to mount a rescue — or if you prefer, a grate escape. (Sorry.)
“How do you plan to do this?” I ask. “I mean, the whole ‘bubble gum at the end of the stick’ thing seems a bit unlikely.”
She reveals her plan. She has taken a pillowcase, a round cutting board from the kitchen, and a length of plastic tubing. She gets out her sewing machine and sews the tubing into the opening of the pillowcase, providing a rim or lip. She places the cutting board at the closed end of the pillowcase. She then ties several lengths of twine to the rim, basically turning the pillowcase into a crude dumbwaiter, with the cutting board as the “floor.” Her plan is to lower this contraption (which we dubbed “the contraption”) through the space at the back of the grate. She then would drop tuna onto the cutting board, and when the little cat came to nibble on the tuna, she would haul the whole thing back up, after which we would set the critter free, no doubt to its lasting delight.
I pointed out that we had agreed that we were out of the cat business years earlier. Mrs. M pointed out that we would be next door to a farm and various fields. At the very least, though, we could get the cat out of the drain so that it could have more room to explore.
I had my doubts, but agreed to come along, both as an escort and an extra set of hands, should such be necessary. And what the hell, I could at least get a blog post out of it and it wasn’t like I had anything else going on. So we take the contraption and head back to the school.
The sky is darkening, but we have a good 45 minutes or so before twilight, so we take our position by the storm drain. We see the smaller cat down there, near the conduit that connects the various grates along the driveway and presumably beyond. He (or she; we weren’t that well acquainted) mews at us, increasing Mrs. M’s already considerable resolve.
“You know,” I say, “he seems to be doing all right. And if he weren’t, we could maybe call the utilities folks and they could remove the grate and bring him out.” But by this time, we had a contraption, after all, so why let the opportunity go to waste? So I help her lower this thing into the drain. Mrs. M opened the can of tuna and dropped a few chunks through the grate and more or less into the center of the cutting board.
And you know what? The damned thing worked. After a few sniffs, the cat walks onto the cutting board for a snack. And then it was time to haul away. Mrs. M pulled the cords and sure enough, she brought the entire business up and safely through the space behind the grate and into the waning daylight. Indeed, it was now time to let the cat out of the bag. (Oh, you knew that was coming.)
So we did, and the little guy hops out. He looks pretty healthy, if befuddled by his transportation. But he’s also (I assume) feral, and has no intention of dealing with his rescuer(s). Mrs. M offers him more tuna, putting it on the grass by the driveway. He takes maybe a small nibble, keeping us both in his field of vision. Apparently satisfied, he looks at Mrs. M, mews… and jumps back down the storm drain, landing first on a ledge we hadn’t seen, and then making his way back to the bottom near the conduit.
“I think he can probably get out if he wants to,” Mrs. M says.
“Yeah, but hey — you gave it a shot. And it worked, sort of.” And we left him the rest of the tuna and headed back home.
It wasn’t my typical Thursday, but it beats watching the Kavanaugh hearings, and I can’t help but thinking there’s a moral somewhere in the experience.
Maybe one day I’ll figure out what it is.