21

Cat Forum: Interview with “Three Chatty Cats”

Hi everyone. Snoops and Kommando Kitty here and welcome to this month’s Cat Forum. We are interviewing the pawsome cats from Three Chatty Cats. It’s a great blog about cat rescue, cat shelters, foster cats. And, of course, the three cats: Dexter, Olive and Sophie. (We listed them alphabetically for reasons you will see below.)

Would you each tell us one nice thing about each of your siblings?

Sophie: Hi Snoops and Kommando! I’ll tell you one nice thing about Dexter and then have a good think about Olive. Dexter is an awesome groomer! And I don’t just mean grooming himself. He loves to groom both me and Olive. He’s the bestest big bro any kitty could ask for.

Dexter: Thanks Sophie. That was nice of you to say about me.

Sophie: Now you say something nice about me.

Olive: Hey, shouldn’t he say something nice about me first? I am older than you.

Dexter: I’ll say something nice about both of you. Olive is right. She’s my first baby sister and she is a beautiful and mysterious tortie. She is the bravest of the three of us, except when it comes to big dogs. But other than that, she will greet most anyone, which is very impressive to a shy cat like me.

Sophie: Now what about me?

Dexter: You’re the goofiest of us. And you always make mom and dad laugh.

Olive: I’m so sorry, Snoops and Kommando, but I just don’t have anything nice to say about Sophie. Except that it’s nice when she’s not near me. But I love hanging and snoozing with Dexter. Although he’s shy around people, we have a lot of fun together. Like during our morning zoomies up and down the hallway.

Are you all BFFs (Best Feline Friends) or do you get hissy once in a while?

Olive: Oh, no! No, no, no, no, no. We are not all BFFs! Dexter and I, sure, you could call us BFFs. But that Sophie…she deserves the hissy hisses more than just every once in a while. Why, the other day, I was minding my own business, walking along the windowsill and Sophie bit my bum! Can you believe it? She just came up behind and chomped down on my bum bum! I have proof, too. Mom saw it happen! Anyway, I gave her a big ol’ hiss.

Sophie: I have no idea what Olive is ranting on about. I was just trying to nudge her out of my way. She was hogging the whole window!

Dexter: See what I have to deal with here? Does that answer your question?

It sounds like your human is pretty busy. Do you ever feel ignored? How do you get her attention?

Sophie: Oh yes, the Mama stays pretty busy. She works one of those 9 to 5 type job thingys. But I think we’re lucky kitties because she gets to work from home. Which means she’s lucky, too, because she gets to work with us kitties in her office. When she gets too wrapped up on that computer thingy, I’ll jump up and reminder her that we need petting. Or, I’ll drag something throughout the house – like a sock, the kitchen towel, or the doggie doo doo bags – and then I’ll meow and meow and meow until she comes and investigates to see what prize I brought her.

What’s your favorite thing to do with your human?

Sophie: My favorite thing in the whole wide world is to snuggle up on Pop’s chest. I pretend to read his iPad with him because I know he thinks it’s cute. But I’ll tell you a secret…I can’t read.

Olive: My favorite thing is to snuggle up against mom’s leg when she’s reading a book. I’m not a lap cat, but I definitely love lounging next to her and rolling on my back so she’ll pet my belly.

Dexter: I like hiding from our parents and making them work to find me. It’s so much fun seeing them sweat as they turn the house upside down looking for me. But I also love sleeping next to mom at night.

Do you live somewhere you can go outside or do you just watch cat TV like us? (The channels are much more interesting this time of year.)

Sophie: We’re indoor kitties, but our parents put together a little catio for us. Nothing fancy, but it gets us fresh air and we can hear the birds chirping. And sometimes a lizard will run into our area. Now that is fun. All three of us like the catio a lot. And since we live in Southern California, the catio stays open all year.

We are seeing a lot more of you on the blog. Do you like your increased role?

Olive: It’s okay. It just means that mom is putting the camera in our faces more and more. Although if a treat is involved, then that’s fine with me. I know that Sophie really hams it up for mom, so that takes the burden off me and Dexter.

Does your human make you share with each other?

Dexter: Not really. We have so many toys and different lounging spots that we could go a whole day without seeing one another. But mom can usually find at least two of us cuddling together at some point during the day.

Olive: I’ll give you one guess as to who you’ll never see cuddling together.

Sophie: Us? Is it us, Olive? You and me? If it’s not, do I get another guess?

Olive: (shaking her head and muttering) Not the brightest bulb…

What’s your favorite hang-out place?

Olive: My favorite place in the whole wide world is in my big box! It’s in the sunniest room in the house and no one is allowed in it except for me! And Dexter. Dexter is allowed in it. But not Sophie.

Sophie: My favorite place to hang out is on the cat tree in the bedroom. Or in my favorite scratcher. Or in the downstairs cat tree. Or in the catio. Or on the Mama’s desk. Or on the…

Dexter: Sophie! She said favorite! Those places can’t all be your favorite.

Sophie: But they are, Dexter. They are. What about your favorite place?

Dexter: In the closet.

Sophie: Oh yeah. I knew that. I should add that one to my favorite list, too.

Your human does a lot of work with shelters and rescues. Do you ever get to give advice? Is that why you’re chatty?

Olive: We’re mostly just chatty because we want more food. And treats. Food and treats make us really chatty. Sometimes we sound like a choir waiting for mom to fix our breakfast and dinner. But we do let her know what we think about any foster kitties she brings home. So far, it’s only been a few, but I have a feeling more are coming.

Dexter: We had some secret meetings with the fosters to let them know what it’s like living in a home. We told them all about the endless supply of food and treats, about the loving and belly rubs they will get, how someone steals our poo, and about the warm beds to cozy up in. We told them how much they’ll love it in a home.

Sophie: Just like we love our forever home!

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Olive: Nope! We just want to thank you for the awesome interview! We had a lot of fun. I was even able to tolerate Sophie being around me.

Sophie: Hey, Olive.

Olive: What?

Sophie: Knock, knock.

Olive: (gets up and slams the door in Sophie’s face) Go away. I don’t want any.

Don’t forget to go visit Three Chatty Cats to see what everyone’s up to.

And to all our furry (and not) mothers:

Image result for happy mothers day

0

Not Your Father’s Union

I belong to a union for retail workers. I had never heard of it before going to work at the store. That should have been a clue right off the bat. I have been around unions my entire life and thought I pretty much had them down. Silly me.

I grew up just outside Detroit (as in one mile from the border). Detroit was the ultimate union town. Every company associated with making a car (manufacturers, suppliers, transport) was closed shop. If you didn’t belong to a union and were blue-collar, you probably didn’t have a very good job. The United Auto Workers (UAW) was king, but there were teamsters, electricians, plumbers, metallurgy workers, and an alphabet soup of others. Every fall would see one or more school district closed by teachers’ strikes. Unfortunately our district always signed.

Every three years, the automakers (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) would “pattern-bargain”, so workers at all three companies would get the same pay and benefits. The unions were extremely successful and the workers enjoyed high wages and some of the best healthcare benefits in the country. Unfortunately, it also meant that other companies couldn’t afford to move here. (cue ominous music)

But car sales slumped with oil crises and foreign competition. Did you know that UAW membership is slightly more than one third of what it was in the heyday of the 1970’s? And as Charles Wilson, President of GM said (more or less) in 1953, “As goes GM, so goes the nation.” (the music gets louder)

When I was hired, the company was semi-open. I guess that’s what you call it. It was a stupid system. Even if you didn’t sign up, you had to pay the dues. Since you were paying the dues, the union had to represent you.

Representation is kind of a strong word for what we get from our union. The wages start at minimum wage in each state. They increase by 25 cents for every 700 hours we work to a maximum hourly rate somewhere in the neighborhood of $10. There are a few specialized jobs in the company that earn $1/hour more.

The pay scale has been the same since the union “negotiated” a second tier for new employees several contracts ago. The new tier pays approximately half of what the more senior employees make. I don’t think the company would have been allowed to pay people less than the minimum wage even if we didn’t have the union. Note: our starting pay is less than the big-box store across the street.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, the company was allowed to put in more stringent requirements for part-time employees to be eligible for health-care. Guess the union was too busy to even comment on that.

We are not allowed to strike. I have no idea how the union got the store to agree to that.

The store is closed on Christmas Day. Every other holiday is treated like a regular workday. I work every Thanksgiving because Thursday is part of my schedule. Full-time or part-time is irrelevant. I bet the union had a hard time getting that through too.

The union was nowhere around when the company changed its discipline system to allow all absences and tardies to stay on our record for a year instead of dropping off after 30 days. Discipline issues and absence issues can now be combined to determine whether an employee can be terminated.

Usually a union will get some kind of concession for that type of change. Here’s ours: if we go four months with no absences, our manager stops by and congratulates us (if they remember).

Last year, Michigan became a right-to-work state. Which means we can all opt out of the union if we choose to. In what can only be described as interesting timing, the union raised our dues this week. They are now 2 hours pay + $16 per month with a minimum of $30.08.

Since the dues are taken out weekly, it was almost impossible for some of the people to figure out how much the raise was actually going to be. The calculation [(2 hours +16) x12/52] is a bit complex, particularly since the store is good about hiring mentally challenged employees for many of the rote tasks.

Of course, we can’t get out of the union until the next contract is negotiated in May 2015. The union may not be doing much for us, but it seems to be taking care of itself just fine.

8

The De-Snarkification of Cat

I received some feedback that I may have been a little hard on the (lack of) thought process employed by some of our customers. While I would like to remind everyone that my thoughts are not expressed to the customer (that’s why they’re thoughts not words), I do understand that some people are concerned with the lack of civility in today’s world. Ensuring that I don’t inadvertently insult someone is a valid concern. We never know when the filter between my brain and my mouth might become clogged and not work anymore. (I have met several people with this unfortunate condition.) So I am trying to come up with some more polite ways to address some issues.

Current: Why on earth do you keep ordering chickens when we have forty cases in my cooler? It’s the cheese cooler not the “I still don’t understand how to order” cooler. Improved: I know it’s really hard to gauge how much food to order, being fairly new in the position. Maybe you should see how much was used last year and increase it by 10% rather than 200%.

Current: It’s called a cheese cooler because it’s supposed to be used for cheese, not whatever you can’t find room for. Improved: If you are going to keep getting too much stock, we should probably find someplace to hide it so your boss will quit yelling at you about it. Or maybe you could arrange to clean out your own space so it looks like you have the correct amount.

Current: Stop being so lazy and clean up the messes you make in my cooler. If you spill boxes all over the place moving a cart, pick them up. Improved: It would really make things a lot easier for me if I didn’t walk into the cooler to find it full of boxes that have fallen off one of the carts. I try very hard to load them safely and would really appreciate you helping me with this. You know you can get hurt tripping on things you don’t see.

Current: Why do you think it’s OK to step in front of me to use the time-clock? Is your time more important than mine? Improved: Excuse me. I guess you didn’t see that I was in line to punch in. Just so you know, you would have clocked in at the same time if you had waited for me.

Current: Why do you think I should come to your department and help you? It’s not like you ever do anything to help me. I’m tired of hearing about how important what you do is. I assume you have no idea how much money my area actually makes. Improved: I’m sorry. I really don’t have time to help. I’m the only one in my section and don’t have anyone I can ask to help.

Current: I know it’s a load of ‘whatever’ when you don’t put a cart in my cooler because you don’t do it as well as I do. It’s insulting how stupid you think I am. Improved: Actually, the way I got to be this good was by practicing. If you spend a little time today working on it, it will be easier the next time you try to put something in.

Current: I know you’re the one who made the mess although you’re playing innocent so I have to clean it up. I’m not working with anything that could spill. Improved: I hate the way those containers of olives sometimes spill over when you take off the top. It looks like that one got some olive oil on the floor.

Current: It’s really stupid to order extra sandwich turkey less than a week before Thanksgiving. That’s the same stuff that’s in those big birds they keep selling across the aisle. Improved: Perhaps it would have been better to wait until some of the stuffed feeling from Thanksgiving goes away before asking people to buy a less substantial version of the same meat.

Current: Yes I am using the hand-held inventory controller. That’s why it’s in my hand and I’m putting numbers into it. You can quit standing there trying to intimidate me into giving it to you. Improved: I’m probably going to need this for another few minutes. I can let you know when I’m finished so you don’t have to keep standing there letting your other work pile up. I’m sure there’s time for both of us to do what we need to do.

I could go on, but there’s really no point. I just hope the brain/mouth filter stays functional.