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That's Not How It Is
Big Little Man
Grasping the Knife Unawares
Saved By a Memory
Wow. Just Wow.
My Wish for You
The Ballad of Steve and Betty
OK, No More Gin Until Dinnertime

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Life, viewed sideways. Emotions, amplified. Answers, questioned. Me, between the lines.

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- Working With Broken Machines
- A New Leg to Stand On
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"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."

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"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."

Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Cat Tale

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English trak, from Middle French trac, perhaps of Germanic origin; akin to Middle Dutch tracken, trecken to pull, haul -- more at TREK
1 : detectable evidence (as the wake of a ship, a line of footprints, or a wheel rut) that something has passed
2 : things that can tell stories

I haven't said much about work lately, primarily because there hasn't been much to say.

Or much work, for that matter. But that's another post.

Anyway, our plant is still there, sitting vacant waiting on our funding. The only thing that happens there is that either Mitsi, the office manager, or I go there every few days and take care of the office cats.

Yeah, you read that right. Office cats.

The company is a tire recycling company, and previous (and now gone) management managed to accumulate and sit on a tire pile amounting to about a million tires. The cats were feral cats that were rescued from the pile as kittens.

It's all Mitsi's fault. It's that darn big heart of hers.

Then again, if you've never had an office cat, I can't recommend one highly enough. There really isn't anything that relieves stress better or quicker, and the customers love them, frequently bringing them gifts and food. They all have cute names...Jupiter (the oldest), Ginger (after Ginger Rogers), Max (short for Maximilian) and the youngest, Pepper. Which is short for, well, Pepper, I guess.

So, last Tuesday I went to the plant to feed them and check on them. It had rained two days before, so there were mud puddles everywhere. I checked on the cats, they were fine and playful, and I spent some time with them. I topped up their food dishes, and when I closed the door Max and Pepper, the pigs of the group, were burying their faces in the food while Ginger delicately jockeyed for position and Jupiter looked on, too bored to investigate.

When I went to my car, I noticed something wrong.

There was a set of tire tracks, fresh ones, coming from the front gate onto our plant site. The tracks weren't blurred by the recent rain, so they were less than two days old. Now, the plant is closed and locked at the moment, the only tracks out there should be Mitsi's, mine and occasionally the foreman Mike's.

These were SUV tracks, or truck tracks. Mitsi has a Mustang. Mike had mentioned to me several days before that he wouldn't be out there, but he doesn't drive a SUV anyway.

I followed them. It looked like they had gone from the front gate (which had been locked) straight to the rear of the plant site, then circled around the carbon black processing building and out the gate again. It didn't appear they had stopped at all.

This was odd.

I checked with everyone after I left when I got in range with my cell phone. No, they said, they had not been there in days.

A day later on Wednesday it came to light that a former plant manager had given his keys to a former CEO of the company. His son had been to the plant to "check on some trucks" that the former CEO held a lease on.

Well, none of us liked it, but at least we knew who it was. I still felt uneasy.

Thursday, it rained and snowed all day, blurring any tracks that were at the plant site.

Saturday at lunchtime, I get a message on my cell to call Mitsi immediately.

"I can't find Pepper, do you have her?"

"No, the last time I saw her she was eating as I locked the door."

"Oh my God, I can't find her anywhere!!! Something's happened to her!!!" Mitsi was more upset than I have ever heard her.

"I'll come right down there." I got in my car and headed out for the long drive to the plant. I was hoping against hope that nothing had happened to the cat. They were like family to us all.

By the time I arrived, Mike was also on his way to the site. While Mitsi went to make some phone calls I searched the office, checking every possible nook and cranny. The cat just wasn't in there. Something had happened to Pepper. And it couldn't possibly be good.

I went outside, and looked down.

There was a new, fresh set of tire tracks, the same tires as before.

I followed the tracks with my eyes as they passed over a concrete pad and headed down the length of the site. "Mitsi, did you drive down there for any reason?"


"Look at these tracks." This time the tracks came and pulled up to the office, you could tell where the vehicle had parked, then backed out and headed towards the back of the plant site. "I'm going to see where these go."

This time the tracks didn't go far. They went straight to the loading dock of the carbon black building and pulled up to it, then pulled away and returned the way they had come, passing out of the gate again.

Mike arrived, and we checked for missing equipment. None was missing. We found new locks for the gate, and put them on.

We spent a couple of hours calling and calling, and no Pepper.

Sunday I went back out again and hunted all over the site, calling and calling. Nothing.

When I called Mitsi to tell her, she said she planned to go visit some of the homes in the area and ask if they had seen her. "Good idea," I said. "But don't go alone. I'll meet you tomorrow afternoon at the plant, and go with you."

And that brings us to today.

I arrived at the plant about 4:00 or so. Being the first one there, I walked through the outdoor structures, calling and calling. Nothing. Soon, Mitsi pulled up.

She went to check something in the processing area in the back, and in a moment I hear her scream "Cliff!!! Cliff!!!" I rush back there.

"I hear a meow in this building!" She was standing at the maintenance garage. I heard it too. "Let me get a key," I said.

We opened the door, and headed into the garage. After a moment, a kitten walked out from under the shelves.

It was Pepper.

She was hungry, tired and poofy tailed, but otherwise no worse for wear. And she may have been in there five days.

Now, the question was how did she get in there? The office building and the garage are not connected, and they were both closed.

I can only think of one scenario.

First, a person, with a key, opens the office. When they leave, Pepper follows. Maybe they don't see her. Maybe they could care less.

Second, that person opens the garage door of the maintenance area. It has to be the garage door, because the only other entry would require the cat to traverse two rooms with heavy automatically closing doors, and there wouldn't have been enough time for the cat to get into the garage area.

Third, that person closes the door, inadvertently (?) trapping the poor kitty, who is then rescued days later by two people who simply wouldn't give up looking for her.

This cat is telling us quite a tale, I think. And one we aren't supposed to know. Somebody went through our entire plant site, most likely every single building. And nothing was missing. Not that we could tell, anyway. Then again, sometimes telling if something is missing is hard until you need that thing. So who knows.

One thing I do know, though. We are now changing all the locks, on all the doors.

Anything happens in the meantime, we got guard cats. Grrrr.

If cats could talk, they wouldn't.
--Nan Porter

Permalink: 2/07/2005 11:21:00 PM |
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