Cat Post


It’s my blog, I don’t have to stay on topic. I can write about my cat if I want.

But it’s also a journal of sorts, so important things are going in here.

Pooka was the best cat I ever had, most cuddly cat most of my friends had ever met. Super outgoing. He played fetch, which baffled visitors who had never seen a cat promptly return and drop the toy they were chasing on their owner’s lap.IMAG0269

He was a Manx, with just a short tail, and even though he was born a barn cat, he took to the litter box the day we got him like it was the best thing in the world. We only ever had trouble with him if we changed the kind of litter we used. He wasn’t from the most reputable breeder perhaps, though, and he had some food allergies that would give him digestive issues if we fed him the wrong thing. But his personality made up for it.

When he was younger, before he gave up and got used to me leaving for work, he would try and stop me from leaving. He got to know the signs that I was going out, and chase me down the hallway towards the door, hooking his paw around my ankle, trying to hold me back.

He would be on my lap just all the time – I was so used to it, I wouldn’t even notice he was there. He met me at the door when I came home, and would come to snuggle in bed when I called him at night. As a kitten, he tried to sleep on my head. Toward the end, he would snuggle next to me with his head on my shoulder and one paw wrapped around my arm.


In addition to playing fetch, he was known as the infamous water thief, and would drink out of any water glass left undefended. We tried to use a spraybottle for discipline, but discovered he liked it, and we have video of him drinking water as we sprayed it into his mouth.

He chased a laser pointer once. We had him running in a circle for at least a half an hour before he collapsed panting, mouth open, on the floor and couldn’t get up. He wasn’t a stupid cat. He would never chase a laser pointer again after that.

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He never jumped on the counter, didn’t dig in the garbage, didn’t unravel the toilet paper, was good about having his claws trimmed, and only liked scratching things I gave home to scratch. He had a thing for sisal cord scratching posts.

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And he had the sweetest meows. Trilling and chirping mostly, but then their was the longer play-with-me meow when he was in the mood. At some point in his life we started hearing a very strange meow that we only heard when he was in another room. At first we though something was wrong, it was kind of a yowling, insistent meow, but when we came to check on him he was fine, just fondling his catnip pillow. Finally we figured out what it was when he prowled into the room still doing it. It was just his play-with-me meow, only he was doing it while carrying his toy around in his mouth.

Almost eleven years old, he started losing weight over the course of a few months, and when he stopped eating altogether one day two months ago, we got him to the vet. Vet did some tests, and while he was negative for the nasty FIV and feline leukemia, there was no easy way to rule out cancer. We crossed our fingers and gave him the antibiotics and steroids the vet prescribed and hoped it turned out to be just an infection or autoimmune disease.

He bounced back through Christmas. Nathan calls it our little Christmas miracle that we got him back healthy and happy through the holidays. We made the most of it, feeding him whatever he wanted since the vet was hopeful but never made us any promises.

After the holidays were over, he crashed again. We made another vet appointment.

The night before, I managed to get him to eat some baked chicken. He didn’t really want to, but he kept looking back at me like he knew I wanted him to eat, and he was only doing it for me.


Later I was petting him, and I felt his tummy. I could feel something. Lumps; masses. The vet confirmed it the next morning. Liver cancer. Nothing anyone could have done. On the vet’s recommendation, we had him put down.

It’s been a month, and at night in the dark, I’m still stepping cautiously around the spots he used to sleep so I don’t trip over him before I remember he’s gone. Every year, my mother-in-law buys our cats cat toys for christmas, and this year Nathan had forgot them in the bag brought home after family gatherings. We didn’t remember it until after, and now we have this little red stuffed dragonfly that was for him, and we never got to give it to him. And the other cat – Apollo cries at night, and wanders the apartment looking for his friend.

I never had any pet as long as I had him, and was never as close to one. My cats growing up, the first my mom sent away to a farm after a year, maybe, the second wandered off to live at the neighbors who were feeding her so that she was getting balloonishly fat, and the third I only had for a year or so before having to give him away. I never had to have one put down. The dog we had for a lot of years, but he belonged to my brother, my grandpa and my dad, so it was them that had that closeness with the dog.

None of them were animals that I shared the kind of relationship I had with Pooka. Pooka, I’m not even sure I know how to describe how in sync the two of us were. I think the best I can do is say, in the dark, at night, I could put my hand out and call him, and in a few moments, his head would be pressed under my hand.

The new kitten will have big paw prints to fill when it comes home.


A Humble Plea

It’s my last day doing tech support in a call centre.

I will do a post about my new job shortly, but before I get on to that, I have some things to say.

I’ve left with the standard two weeks notice so I can be recommended for re-hire, and MTS is likely to hire me back on if I had to go crawling back….

But I really frickin’ don’t want to.

Don’t get me wrong – MTS has been really good to me, and my managers have done all they can to not stand in my way as I’ve worked on my licences and ratings. No, what makes call centres a meat grinder that the average employee lasts six months; a place where you can get stress leave easier than just about any job short of air traffic control – what makes me so glad to never have to go back there…

That’s the customers.

Not all the customers, but enough of them. So on behalf of my co-workers, who are great people and more patient than a lot of the people they have to deal with deserve, a humble plea:

When they ask you for your name, please give them your name – the name you think the account might be under. There’s no need to ask what name we’re looking for, that only makes you sound suspicious. The rep asked for your name. If you have a deep, masculine voice, and you say your name is Brenda, most of us would rather misgender you because you can’t answer a simple question than misgender some poor trans person who can.

If you don’t understand the technology you’re calling about or why you’re being asked to do something, don’t get angry and tell my friends that they don’t know what they’re doing.

If you have one of my female friends on the line, or one of my friends who has an accent, don’t make them convince you that they’re competent. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Anyone that can be identified as a minority over the phone constantly has to persuade people (male and female customers alike) that they know what they’re doing before they can get someone to follow their directions. If they’re not smart, they get abuse so bad, they don’t make it long in tech support, while if customers have a guy without an accent on the phone, he can be completely clueless and they’ll happily follow directions without question. So if you have a woman or someone with an accent on the phone, chances are you have someone who knows their shit.

It’s okay if you don’t know anything about the technology my friends are helping you troubleshoot – they don’t need you to. Often the hardest part of troubleshooting is convincing you that you can do it. Please don’t play stupid to try and avoid having to do the troubleshooting – we know exactly how complex the tasks are that we’re asking you to perform, and you’re not going to convince them that unplugging a cord from the back of a box from the port labelled power, waiting ten seconds, then plugging it back in, is incalculably complex to the point that you shouldn’t be expected to attempt it. They’re just going to come to the conclusion that you’re either incalculably lazy or in calculably stupid. I have walked stroke survivors and people with obvious intellectual disabilities through tv troubleshooting and got them going over the phone. Seriously, the biggest deciding factor is most often not your competence, it’s your compliance.

On that note, please pay attention. I’m used to having to repeat pretty much everything I say at least three times, so if my friends sound like they’re tired of repeating themselves, it’s probably because you weren’t listening the first two times they said what they’re saying now.

If we ask you do do something, it’s safe to assume it’s for one of two reasons – either my friends hope it will fix the problem, or they hope that it will give them information that will help determine what the problem is so they know what needs to be done to fix it. If you don’t understand why you’re being asked to do something, and you don’t understand the explanation when you ask, please, just do it. My friends want to help you, but they can’t if you dig your heels in and refuse to let them.

Likewise, please don’t have a fit and refuse to do any further troubleshooting because the first thing my friends tried didn’t instantly fix it. Often there’s multiple steps to a task, and it’s not going to be a magical push-this-button-and-it-starts-working fix.

Often,you’re able to give my friends so little information about the problem we need to do diagnostic steps to figure out what you’re even describing. Please don’t get angry when they ask you to elaborate. There are too many things that can go wrong with a computer and internet for you to be able to go “That thing’s happening again” and us know exactly what you’re talking about.

Please don’t demand my friends tell you what you’re supposed to do with your kids while you wait for your tv service to be repaired. We provide tv service, not child care. You’re just turning yourself into a joke. Likewise, don’t ask them how you’re going to get assignments turned in to professors or work assignments that you need internet access to work on. Take some personal responsibility people.

I feel like this statement often falls on deaf ears, but please remember that my friends on the other end of the phone are frickin’ human beings and deserve to be treated with respect. Don’t fool yourself into thinking bullying will magically get your internet or tv working without you having to follow instructions. If you do and they hang up on you, you deserve it.

Please don’t yell. Please don’t call my friends names or belittle them. Please don’t cry. If it’s for legit reasons, like you’re calling in to change the name on your account because your husband just passed away, we’re cool with you crying about that, and we try to be sensitive as much as we can, but it’s really hard to be sympathetic to someone crying over their tv not working when we don’t even have cable.

My friends are good people, and they spend their days dealing with near-constant abuse. Give them a break if they sound tired. Look up the term “emotional labour” and understand there’s an intense amount of that involved in tech support. Look up “hang up on abuse” and listen to some of the nasty things customer service reps get told over the phone on a regular basis. My friends are expected to hop on the phone and basically treat you as if you were our old friend and they’re happy to talk you, not just doing a job. Imagine you’re getting on the phone with your own friend and they sound exhausted, irritable, even and you can tell they’ve had a long day. You’d give them a break, rather than making their life more difficult.

We’re all human, just trying to get by. Be nice to one another, people.