The Prompt: Tell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. What happened? How did you prevail?
I can’t really share stories about clients, but I do want to give a shout out to the front line workers – least paid and most abused – who put themselves on the lines to rescue people every day – intervening, deescalating, offering resources and more. They are our true unsung heroes.
So I’m going to tell you about my cat Simon.
One cold wintry night in December about 10 years ago, I drove to the women’s crisis shelter where I was volunteering. On the way, I picked up some drive through at KFC, ate quickly and left the leftovers on the front seat.
After my shift, I walked to my car and heard this pitiful meow sound. It was dark, cold and not a great neighborhood to be lollygagging. But … it was clearly a cat in distress. I looked around and found a shivering black cat looking back at me. He was young, but not a kitten. And he was talkative. He wouldn’t come to me, so I pulled the chicken from my takeout bag and set it down on a napkin. The cat sniffed at it and looked at me, waiting. I smiled and pulled apart the chicken for him which he daintily ate. Then he jumped into my van and curled up on the passenger seat.
It was cold, dark and I was freezing. I wasn’t about to knock on doors that late. So I took him home. I carried him in the house wrapped in a coat so he wouldn’t escape and I put him in the bathroom in the basement because I had dogs. He went to sleep apparently so I worked on my computer for a while and then suddenly I heard a strange series of sounds and then the ceiling tile collapsed and down came this cat into the middle of the room. And the middle of the dogs. He sniffed, they sniffed and he curled up on a box. It was all good.
I posted flyers, asked, called the shelters, etc. No response. The shelter staff told me that pets were often dumped there as if they would rescue them along with people. So eventually he became one of us. I named him Simon Le Bon because I relentlessly listened to “Do They Know Its Christmas?” during the holidays.
Did I rescue Simon from a dangerous situation? Well, it was not a night for any animal to be outside so I suppose. And he had no humans so I suppose.
Now Simon has two humans – he adores Ledcat with equal amounts of his affection – and lots of warmth, food and sunny spots. He spends his days on the sofa or the bed and puts up with the indignity of the elder cats using him as a feline hot water bottle when they are chilly. He often curls up on the dog beds with the woofers.
It makes me laugh that he wouldn’t eat the chicken until I deboned and removed the skin. Now he’s used to us cooking chicken or having turkey lunch meat – I’m tempted to buy a piece of friend chicken and see what he does with it.
This question brings to mind some stories from my professional career as a social worker that are difficult to share, both out of respect for the privacy of the people involved and the sheer horror of the situations. I consider myself fortunate to have been in various positions to help, but I shudder to think of those who don’t have anyone to help. Or the helpers who don’t have the resources and tools that they need.
Rescuing someone is a moral obligation. We rescue people when we dare to invest in the organizations that serve them. We rescue them when we vote or advocate to an elected official. We rescue them when we stand in solidarity and don’t patronize the businesses that treat them poorly.
In that spirit, I urge you to consider a donation for an Emergency Appeal – Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ Community Center needs to collect 300 blankets immediately as well as larger sized coats. Imagine going out in this weather without a coat or putting your kids to sleep in a friend’s basement with only a sheet to cover them. You can be the hero.