A little before the Twins game was to start tonight, I went out to feed the dumpster kitties. I have gotten into the habit of going right around dusk. I can still see but there are few people out and about to see me (and possibly judge me). Right as I was approaching the dumpster, I noticed a woman in a white car parked in the last space before the driveway to the dumpster.
One of my favorite kitties ran out from behind the dumpster to greet me (always from a distance) and one of the new babies was back there. I dumped out my Ziploc freezer bag full of food and crossed my arms while I watched them peek out from the woods behind the dumpster.
"Hi." She scared the piss out of me. I whirled around and was instantly nervous. Does she live in the complex? Is she going to yell at me for encouraging this? I couldn't tell how old she was. My age give or take five years. I'm bad at that. She was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, flip flops and had long blond hair loosely piled up under a nondescript baseball cap.
"Oh, um, hi," I finally returned.
"Do you feed these cats?"
"Yes...." I answered somewhat defensively.
She appeared relieved. "Oh, I'm so happy somebody is feeding these guys. I've come by here a couple times and noticed them. Have they been trapped and fixed?"
"No. I've looked into it, but it's a little overwhelming."
We contined to talk for maybe ten minutes. It turns out she feeds feral cat colonies in my neighborhood and happened across "mine" a few days ago. She staked it out to se if they were being cared for. She also routinely traps feral cats and takes them to a clinic that charges her a very small fee to fix them. She then offered to coordinate with me and help me trap my dumpster kitties to take them in to be spayed and neutered. I looked her over once again and decided she appeared "normal". Now let me just say that I don't normally judge people based on appearances but when I meet a complete stranger behind a dumpster that wants to have continual communication with me, I must be wary and make haste judgements at the risk of being discriminatory. She wore makeup and seemed well kept, completely unlike the Crazy Cat Lady from the Simpsons. I decided to ask her for her phone number, still undecided about giving her mine. Even though she appeared normal, there was still a possibility she could go postal and call me 20 times a day about crazy cat stuff.
I followed her to her car where she asked me if I was a student. I told her I was a grad student, prompting the inevitable question about what I was studying. When I told her physics she got a stunned look on her face. She asked me if I knew Sue, our office manager that passed away nearly two months ago. I told her I knew Sue well, and at once I recognized her as a speaker at Sue's service. Sue was her aunt and they were very close. Suddenly, I trusted this woman and knew that I wanted her to help me do this. I've been talking about "doing something about the kitties" for awhile, and completely by coincidence this situation finds me.
I never really thought of the dumpsters kitties as stressing me out. It's more like a hobby. But there are days when I see them all at once and feel extremely overwhelmed. And small. Now, with the connection I made I feel an immense weight already beginning to lift from my shoulders. This is a chance for me to do something good.