Strange how a most unsettling, but ultimately miraculous, event could take place on a mundane Friday afternoon. My friend Mike and I were chatting on our way to lunch on this, our last day of relative freedom before we take our teaching responsibilities much more seriously. I’d just pulled onto busy Clyde Morris Boulevard when we both noticed the kitten at the side of the road. Inches away from traffic. And it was Tiny. Gray. Cute. Confused.
I slowed but, fortunately for the SUV behind me, my rear bumper, and the kitten, I didn’t slam on my brakes. Instead I felt immediately guilty for leaving the kitten to cross against the light and, as soon as we could find a place to U-turn, headed back.
We double-parked, flashed the hazard lights, and trooped up to the kitten, now flattening itself into the grass a few yards off the road. I stepped between the kitten and the road to provide a barrier (and a reason for the kitten to run away from the road if it needed to escape), while Mike quietly approached from the cross-street side.
Obviously, “here, kitty, kitty,” spoken in a slightly worried tone trying to masquerade as “come hither,” spooks potentially traffic-bound animals. The kitten scooted around me and bounded into the road.
There is a reason why I don’t have pets or children.
Horrified, uncertain, and unbelievably thankful that the women driving the three nearest cars stopped immediately, the kitten and I debated what to do. I opted for the “here, kitty, kitty” approach that had been working so well, while the kitten scampered in front of the first car’s rear tire. And promptly launched itself into the wheel well.
By now two lanes of horrified drivers were blocking the intersection, and I hated to suggest that maybe the car-with-kitten might have to move. Calling to the cat, cautiously approaching the car, and trying to spot the cat without actually crawling under the car weren’t doing much but creating a massive traffic jam.
“Try honking your horn,” one motorist suggested, and the now-parked car dutifully beeped. The cat could care less. It was safe from all the people now hovering around the vehicle, including that first weird woman who’d been so concerned about it leaving its retrospectively nice safe place on the berm.
Suddenly—just like in one of those hero series—a young woman sprinted past me to get to the kitten. She dared go where no one had gone before—under the car in the middle of Clyde Morris. She coaxed the kitten into her hands, pulled it to safety, and got traffic—and bystanders’ hearts—started again.
Rachael the Cat Rescuer offered to have the kitten checked out to make sure it was only frightened from its NDE. The kitten seemed immensely glad to be in Rachael’s capable hands.
My curiosity almost killed the kitten, but, thanks to a hero who leaped into action (and traffic), as well as drivers who cared enough to stop their day and their vehicle for one little gray cat, this story has a happy ending. I may not have faith in my ability as Kitten Whisperer, but Rachael and a line of patiently stopped drivers renewed my faith in people.