Heart Stopping

It was a typical Wednesday here in the madhouse that my office has become.

Half-way through the week, supplies were low, particularly in the cat food department. So, a trip to Walmart was in the offing. I was also out of Coke Zero anyway, so that forced my hand in going just before lunchtime, rather than waiting until the end of the day.

Work on the PC hit a break point, so I closed the door, hopped in the car and drove the 7 or 8 miles to Walmart.

It was mid-day heat in the 90’s as I began to walk away from the car, but then I heard something that stopped me dead in my tracks. The sound of a kitten crying from underneath the hood of my car.

My heart stopped. I hoped I was wrong. Maybe there was a cat nearby or in someone else’s car.

But no. My worst fear was happening.

Though I had done so a hundred times before, I couldn’t remember how to pop the hood. Panic plays havoc on the brain and when I popped it, I dreaded finding someone burning on the heat of the engine or caught in the fan-belts or another moving part.

I could hear her crying but couldn’t immediately see her. The sound seemed to be under the radiator or near the wheel well and so I quickly got down on the ground and began prying away the plastic sheeting that they use to protect the engine from road spray.

I then moved around to the wheel well and began to pull apart the plastic protection there. Popping rivets and pulling things apart with my bare hands.

Eventually a saw her. She looked intact. Severely overheated and drooling and terrified. But intact.

I tried to reach in but couldn’t get her and she retreated further into the engine area and she cried louder.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get her, so I called 911. After a few minutes talking with the dispatcher, they refused to come help. I was on my own.

A lady returning to her car parked adjacent came and offered help and though we came close to the kitten a few times, we were unsuccessful in getting her out of the engine area.

Another stranger, a man my age, came over and helped and after almost 45 minutes eventually got the kitten out though one of the loosened plastic panels to the ground beneath.

It took a further 45 minutes of trying to coral her as she evaded us underneath several adjacent cars, climbing into wheel wells and always being just out of grip, before I finally managed to get a gloved hand on her and she was caught.

Terrified, she accepted being put into the back of the car and I drove her home.

It was several hour later of convalescence lying by herself in the darkened corner underneath a table, before I had any real confidence that she was going to be OK

And thankfully, the end of the story this morning is that she is OK.

I got a number of pics this morning of everyone being kitten and she is the happy little camper in the final few, including the very last one with the sleepy smile.

Of the five, she is one of the unnamed twins, impossible for me to tell apart. But yesterday she got her name … Lincoln. Morgan says that is because she actually survived the theater, but no, it was because of the car she had her near-death experience in.

Anyway, hope you like this little collection (at the end of the blog).

The thought process that led to this blog was not just to share the story but to share some of the experience that we both had yesterday.

Lincoln must have been terrified and today she looks at me very suspiciously, quite understandably so. I hope cats don’t get PTSD but if she suddenly attacks me for no apparent reason, I will fully understand. Poor little baby.

For my part, I may well develop PTSD from this experience. It was one of those worst-fears-coming-true moments and however I made it through it, I was truly grateful for the lack of the disastrous ending.

The palpable fear while popping the hood, the extreme anxiety of trying to get her out of the engine compartment, and the heightened stress of trying to catch her and get her home so that she wouldn’t die from the ordeal … these were so traumatic that when it was all over and I headed into my evening, I felt so ill and worn out.

The disappointment with the fire department (I had often seen stories of them rescuing cats in trees, saving owls from wells, and all those other feel-good stories where they became heroes to us civilians) is very real to me now. And I know not to even bother calling for help in the future.

But the real story in this blog is the joy of how strangers converged in the Walmart parking lot and showed care, empathy, and constructive help in bringing this story to a happy end.

Over the years, I have lost so much respect for humanity, in how we treat each other, how we treat the environment, and in cruelty to animals that I have witnessed from so many.

But that one man yesterday, spent a good hour or hour and a half by my side, crawling, leaning, stretching in a very hot and uncomfortable environment. And he did so without being asked and completely unselfishly of his time and energies.

Without him I would most definitely have failed and I will forever be grateful to him. If I had caught his name, I would mention it here, but with all focus on Lincoln, I never asked.

Humanity isn’t dead. It may have been obscured and ridden rough-shod over with all the drama and pressures of life. But it still exists.

In Walmart parking lot yesterday, it took a trapped little kitten to find it.

There were four or five strangers by the end of that story yesterday, who shared the joy of the rescue and whether they played an active part or passive concern, they each showed their humanity and for a moment, the world was a better place.

I am still floating a few inches above the surface of the world this morning and as I look to the right of me, right now, Lincoln in safely lost in a happy dream, snuggled into her sisters on a soft blanket.

Today the world is a good place.

… just a thought.