One Saturday afternoon the doorbell rang. It was the woman house-sitting for our neighbor Ann across the way. I don’t remember her name. Let’s just call her Mindy. “Is that your cat?” Mindy asked. She said a neighborhood kitty seems to have climbed up a telephone pole and was sitting there right next to all the high voltage wires, too scared to come down. Apparently it had been up there since yesterday. It was a stray with no clear owner. Because we had cats of our own Mindy assumed she did her duty and that the cat lovers on the block could take it from here.
Jenya couldn’t bear the poor animal trapped up there being scared and hungry so she made a bunch of phone calls to various utility companies and fire departments. They were all fascinated by the predicament but claimed such matters were not their responsibility. Despite frustrating hours on hold or arguing with whomever she could get on the line, Jenya discovered nobody cared and the cat spent another whole night on the top of the pole.
By Sunday morning most of the block was involved. People were coming out of their houses occasionally to see if the cat was meowing and therefore still alive. Nobody was sure what to do except keep making those phone calls until somebody official with a heart comes with a ladder or a lift of some sort.
After night fell the Oakland Fire Department finally sent a truck and a dozen firemen. All the neighbors poured out on the street to celebrate as the firemen gathered and laughed amongst themselves and pointed up at the cat. They took some pictures and got back in their truck without saying anything to anybody. We thought they were going to the corner to turn the truck around for better access, but they never came back. We were all deeply disappointed and went back inside for the night. Later phone calls revealed they were unwilling to help given the proximity to too many power lines, and thus they felt it should be up to the electric company.
Monday morning Jerry down the block risked his life to save this animal. He took out a ladder and climbed up the pole sans harness. The cat, obviously freaked out, leapt away from Jerry’s clutching hands and jumped onto one of the wires, eventually to drop onto the streetlight arm below. Jerry couldn’t do much at this point, but minutes later the electric company unceremoniously arrived with a cherry picker truck. They snared the cat, and once on the ground it ran away, never to be seen by any of us again.
A year later Jenya and I went over to Ann’s house for dinner and Mindy happened to join us. Mindy accidentally admitted during the meal that it was her dog that chased the cat up the pole – a particularly key bit of information she conveniently omitted when first telling Jenya and I about the poor kitty. So instead of taking responsibility for the situation, she simply informed us, i.e. her feline-friendly temporary neighbors, that some cat was in trouble and got on with her stupid life. Fucking asshole.