Brandon’s War Story – CATastrophe
I’ll never forget the sight of that poor kitten munching on a cockroach. Our mission was relatively simple. Being employed by a large computer peripheral maker, we were to interview small businesses to see how they were using our products. The visit that brisk winter morning was to a costume rental shop that also did some tailoring. Upon entering the store, we were greeted with a smell, which if called pungent, would be a kind and generous description. The owners, well, they must have had very large hearts.
I am actually a cat person (maybe it’s their independence I admire). So, the presence of a gaggle of feline friends could have been a welcome site. But unfortunately, I don’t think the owners were up to the task of caring for that many cats. In 2012 terminology, they would now be referred to as “hoarders.” This was not a well-heeled, venture capital-rich setting; the building had a raw plywood floor and the employees were doing the best they could to make a go of it. However, that flooring clearly did not help the smell-retention factor for animals that have periodic bladder control issues.
In many ways, the visit was worthwhile. As might be predicted, their computer system was not the latest, and it was good to see the struggles they had installing our software because of it. But, once that installation was underway, we experienced perhaps the slowest moving progress bar known in existence. Or maybe it just felt that way. Minutes drifted by before another column of pixels filled. It could have been the fumes playing tricks on my eyes, but I swear I saw that progress bar move backwards on occasion.
My teammate and I began to develop various coping mechanisms. At first, we would periodically take breaths using the tops of our shirts as a crude filtering system. We were able to pull this off because we had positioned ourselves outside of the main office area, and outside of view. Later, we began to make excuses for trips out to the car for supplies (aka fresh air). How were they to know we really weren’t low on batteries or videotape? Unfortunately, the moderator was not so lucky and remained stuck with the participant. Yes, I do feel guilty about that.
Our minds drifted and I began to wonder why anyone would actually leave clothes for mending there; perhaps their skills or prices were amazing. It was around this time when another creature joined the party. A cockroach skittered across the floor. A kitten gave chase. It did not end well for either, in my opinion. My teammate made that face which looked like she was gagging at the sight. Maybe this was just for effect…but maybe not.
The visit ended uneventfully once the product was finally functional. In reality, I escaped with an interesting story and some clothes that needed freshening by the cold breeze entering my car during the drive home. I’m not so certain if those cats had a similarly good fate.