Strange Things & Filthy Lies – August/September 2019

Notes on petting stray cats and lies about the sands of time

August-September 2019

Wendy Parker


It’s all fun and games until someone gets licked by a cat.

Not just any cat, mind you, but a cat with breath so foul it could only be attained by eating a steady diet of hell-beast scat and rotten wax-worms. Halitosis so advanced one would need only to point the animal face-first and gently squeeze to cause an exhalation so horrific it could melt titanium. This cat had weaponized breath.

Of course, that’s what you get when you pet animals emerging from a dumpster behind a grocery warehouse.

In my defense, we had been at the grocery warehouse for at least six and a half days (four hours). It was like being marooned on a desert island – I was so happy to see any sign of life outside the truck that I had no filter.

My husband, George, who was used to sitting for at least six and a half days (four hours) at grocery warehouses, knew I was going to leap from the truck to pet/feed the cat. Mostly because I said, “Oh my God it’s a caaat! I have to pet it!”

I was out the door with a packet of tuna and a spoon before he could protest. Mind you, getting out of the truck at a grocery warehouse is like running across a prison yard toward the fence – inevitably someone will stop you and send you back from whence you came with unkind words and possible taunts regarding your paternity.

For whatever reason, I escaped both the George-barrier and grocery warehouse tower guards to successfully make my way toward dumpster cat, who had since climbed out the door and onto the closed flap atop the dumpster. He loomed over the trash, no doubt searching for hell-beast scat and rotten wax-worms to eat.

Just as I got close enough to rip open the tuna pack, a warehouse-worker stepped outside with a bag of trash. I thought for sure I would be sent back from whence I came. Hoping for lesser versions of abuse to my mother’s virtue, I spoke first.

“Hey, I’m just feeding the cat.” I stuck a spoonful of tuna in the cat’s face, just to prove I wasn’t some kind of weirdo who likes to sneak out of the truck to eat tuna beside a dumpster full of hot garbage. “I’ll get back in the truck in just a sec.”

Warehouse guy slung the bag of trash without caution, expertly arcing it into the open side behind dumpster cat, who was too busy gobbling tuna to flinch. “That cat don’t need feeding, he gets fed all the time. He’s been here as long as me.”

He didn’t look pleased that either of them had been there for any amount of time, so I didn’t pursue further conversation and kept shoveling tuna into dumpster cat.

I was pretty sure warehouse guy was going to make me get back into the truck before going back inside the building, so I jumped the gun and reached out to pet dumpster cat before he finished eating the last flake of tuna. Dumpster kitty didn’t get a pat on the head, he gave a full palm stroke of the tongue. And since dumpster cat was looming over me and I thought he was going to bite me for sure, I dropped the tuna and ran.

(That’s not cowardice, its self preservation. Google it, Becky.)

George, who apparently sat there and watched me practically get my face eaten off by dumpster cat, was less than helpful when I scrambled back into the truck.

“Well, hello there, Your Mauled ness. Did you pet the kitty?”

This here’s a family publication, so I’m not going to reflect my direct and true response. Suffice it to say I was less than thrilled and might have questioned his paternity in an unkind and most unfriendly manner.

I may have gone on to rant about the 64 days we had been stranded at the grocery warehouse had my nose not been assaulted by a hideous wave of funk coming from an unknown direction. It was as if an evil spirit had entered the truck. George and I looked at each other and both said, “What is that awful smell?”

This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill bad smell. It was a smell that would come from an ancient crypt of bad smells that had been stewing in an underground swamp of bad smells for millennia.

I did the thing I always do when there’s a bad smell, I started sniffing things. By process of elimination, I sniffed everything in the truck before I had the sense to smell my own hand.

Mr. “I-don’t-have-to-smell-anything-because-you-do-it-for-me” realized from the look on my face I had located the smell. “It’s your hand, isn’t it?”

And again, I won’t repeat my actual response, but it had something to do with questioning his remarkable ability to deduce, since I was busily scouring my entire arm with glass cleaner and preparing to set my own hand on fire.

I’m not sure this story has a moral, other than to highlight the fact that we’ve been stranded at a grocery warehouse for a year-and-a-half with no hope of leaving. Someone send help … and mouthwash for the dumpster-cat.

Which brings us to the filthy lies surrounding detention pay.

We actually ended up sitting at the grocery warehouse for a little more than 12 hours. To this day the words, “grocery warehouse” make my eye twitch. Those are verifiably not filthy lies.

Most detention pay agreements begin four to six hours after bumping the dock. Also not a filthy lie.

Detention is paid automatically, without a hassle or any consternation from any participating party.

There’s the filthy lie part. But you knew that. Because detention pay is not something anyone wants to readily give – it cuts directly into profit margin. It would also require people actually value the time clock of a professional driver.

Here’s a list of things that don’t qualify as reasons you aren’t owed detention pay:

  • “We let you use the bathroom. Twice, even.”
  • “We let you park in the alley by the highway between the crack houses for your break after we kept you for a full driving shift.”
  • “We didn’t arrest your wife for setting her hand on                         fire in the parking lot.”

(The last one may or may not be a deal-breaker, depending on the amount of property damage sustained. My attorney prohibits me from commenting on this particular caveat.)

Your time matters. Don’t spend it in places unwilling to pay you for it without a fight. And don’t get licked by a dumpster cat.

Until next time, STFL, over and out. LL