In which I discover a mysterious box, and wonder what’s in it…
A story about a cat…
I want to tell you about my cat. Actually, I have three cats, but the one I want to tell you about is named Blossom. The story begins with my father-in-law, who decided to move out of his house in the country into an apartment in Moncton, New Brunswick. He needed a new home for his eight year old cat… Blossom. So my wife generously decided to add Blossom to our already (in my opinion) full roster of felines.
They decided to fly Blossom from Moncton to Toronto. They drugged her and packed her up and somehow it became my responsibility to pick her up at the airport, after work.
I’m at work on the day and it’s four o’clock in the afternoon and I’m starting to feel ill. Stomach flu kind of thing. I tough it out to the end of my shift, but I can’t go home. No, I have to go pick up this cat at the airport. But before I do that, I’ve also agreed to pick up a Disney doll as a birthday gift for a friend of my girls. I’m feeling increasingly sick, but I hightail it off to the Eaton Centre or whatever they’re calling it these days to pick up the doll. Then it’s back on the subway to where I’ve parked the car, and off to the airport.
Traffic getting out of Toronto sucks bigtime. It’s bad enough going east to Whitby where I live, but west on the QEW to the 427 up to the airport is worse. Fortunately, there’s a plastic bag in the glove compartment that I can barf into if I begin to feel even worse. It’s stop and go until about half the way up the 427. I make it to the airport without woofing my cookies. Thinking all the while, I don’t even really like cats (more of a dog person, really).
I find the proper gate at the airport with the help of a friendly seventy year old fellow whose job it is to give directions. At the gate I ask an attendant if my cat is likely to be unloaded there. She says yes. I wait. Everybody gets off the plane, including several dogs. But no cat.
I approach the attendant and inquire about the cat. She says, you mean the cat was travelling alone? I say yes, it’s a very sophisticated cat. She says, well in that case you must pick the cat up at the special cat delivery terminal located approximately three kilometres west of the airport proper. I ask her how to get there. She has no idea.
I visit my seventy year old friend. He has never heard of the special cat delivery terminal. I revisit the attendant. She unearths a phone number for the special cat delivery terminal. I revisit my seventy year old friend, who lets me use his phone. I phone the special cat delivery terminal. I get an answering machine. I leave a message asking them to phone my seventy year old friend.
I wait. I refrain from barfing. I imagine being home in bed. I really want nothing more than to be home in bed. I refrain from barfing some more.
The phone rings. It is the guy from the special cat delivery terminal. He gives me directions as my seventy year old friend spreads an enormous map across his desk and marks on it with a red felt pen. I repeat the directions aloud. “Turn right at the second Sunoco,” I say. “No no no!” the guy says. “At the second Su NO co!” I’ve pronounced it wrong. Apparently you can’t get there if you pronounce it wrong.
The directions make little sense. I decide to take a cab. I approach a cabbie and he’s all set to take me until I mention the cat. “No cats!” he cries.
Armed with my seventy year old friend’s map, I hop in my van and pick my way across north Toronto in search of the special cat terminal. Lo and behold there’s the second Su NO co. I turn right and wend my way down an enormously long, desolate road, past large, eerie buildings and arrive after much head scratching at what can only be the special cat terminal, where, one can only suppose, they land the planes and disembark all the cats before taking off again to fly the human passengers three kilometres further on to the special people terminal.
Inside the special cat terminal is a long, L shaped desk at which several unsmiling people are busy clicking away at special computer terminals. I’m feeling even sicker if such a thing is possible and not a little annoyed. “I’m here to get my cat,” I announce to one unsmiling face. He gets me to fill out a form and tells me to go around the corner and wait and somebody will get my cat.
I fill out the form and go around the corner and wait for somebody to get my cat. I wait. I wait and I wait and I wait. I am waiting in a huge hanger type space, filled with mysterious boxes and zero human activity. Finally I hear a shuffling. I spy an elderly security guard approaching. “Excuse me,” I say. “I’m looking to get my cat. Can you help me get my cat?”
“Your cat?” he says. “I can’t get you your cat.”
“Look, I just want my cat,” I tell him. “I’m as sick as a dog and I’ve been trying to get my cat for about three hours now and I just want to get it and go home.”
“Come with me,” he says. “I can show you your cat.” And he leads me across this vast space to a special door, which he unlocks, and ushers me inside. And there’s Blossom, whom I recognize from visits with my father-in-law. Filled with relief, I pick up Blossom’s case and prepare to take her home with me.
The elderly security guard, seconds before a paragon of peacefulness, freaks out. “What do you think you are you doing?”
“I’m taking my cat home with me.”
“You can’t take that cat home with you!”
I can’t believe my ears. She’s right there… I’m holding onto her case, perhaps I could make a dash for it… I sigh, a sigh perilously close to a barf. “Why can’t I take my cat home with me?”
He gives me this song and dance about procedure and I’ve had enough. I storm back to the L shaped desk and all the dour faces and I shout, “Look! I just want my cat! Will somebody please give me my cat?” And I storm back to the place I had been told to wait.
I do not recall actually receiving the cat or exiting the building. I can only hope the process was carried out peacefully and with a minumum of vomit. I do recall travelling home on the 401 with Blossom on the passenger seat beside me. I spoke to her soothingly. As tired and as sick as I felt, I suspected she felt even worse. I tried to be friendly, to welcome her to her new home, to make her feel better. I don’t know that I succeeded.
But I did get her to her new home. Where she lives with two new cat enemies, er, friends.
All three of whom I’m allergic to.