I Was This Close to Kicking a Cat Out of My Car

Not really, but I felt like kicking her owner out.

It was a slow Saturday for Ubering — summertime is abysmal for rideshare with all the Snowbirds having fled back north to Canada and the ASU students gone until the next semester. Unfortunately, I ended up in the crappy, rundown part of Mesa I hate to give rides in. In fact, I had rapidly vacated the area and was almost to suburbia when I got reeled back in to pick up a woman at a ramshackle apartment complex.

Call me biased, but I don’t like giving rides in poor areas — many of the residents are fine people, but that economic strata tends to have a higher percentage of individuals with poor decision-making skills (to all my friends about to make a comment on Facebook about the irony, shut it), problematic behavior, relationship issues that get played out in public, or bad hygiene issues. Drunk and argumentative by 1 p.m. on a Tuesday? Probably a poor person. Less likely to bring bedbugs in my car? Surburbanites and rich people.

Anyway, I was taking the young woman four or so miles down the road. She didn’t say anything at first, but I could tell something was on her mind. Then she began to tell me her problems and was near tears. Apparently, she was staying with a guy friend because she’d been fighting with her husband (by the way, unless the friend is gay, probably not going to improve the situation). Domestic situations can be tense, and I was a little worried that her husband might appear in the parking lot with a gun. But she mentioned that he had just called to tell her he had moved out and taken her four dogs with him but had left the cat.

Never turn your back on a cat

The woman wanted to change her ride to roundtrip and asked me if I would wait for her and take her back to the other guy’s apartment and if I’d allow a cat in my car. Reluctantly, I agreed as long as I wasn’t waiting for more than 5 minutes. (Once, I had a dude book a roundtrip and leave me waiting outside a weed dispensary for 40 minutes — never again!). As is well documented, cats hate car rides. But I said I’d allow it; my only request was that she put the cat in a carrier. It wasn’t going to be a long trip, just a few miles, but I thought it a reasonable request. There was no telling how the cat would react in a vehicle and I didn’t need it possibly bouncing all over the interior. Plus, I didn’t want cat hair all over my black, fabric seats or the hassle of trying to clean it. Passengers rate you on the cleanliness of your vehicle and if a person with a cat allergy got in the car there would be hell to pay. Or God forbid the cat peed on my fabric seats — or worse. And trust me, cats can be vindictive creatures and not be particularly discriminating when they wish to express their ire.

service animal leaves hair all over car seat
Another Uber driver’s car after a service dog.

For example, when I moved to L.A. in 1996 I crashed on the floor of some friends. Unfortunately, there was a bit of prolonged domestic strife going on and one of their cats, a beautiful flame point, took great exception to the stress level and constantly raised voices (to clarify, I was just a spectator). Now that cat had known me since it was a kitten and had lived with me at one point. It was not unusual for it to sit on the back of the couch licking my head. Anyway, it decided to make a statement to express its displeasure with the fighting, which it did by taking a massive dump right where I slept on the floor. (It was such a prodigious, un-cat like bowel movement I half suspected that a human must have done it and then blamed the cat.)

flame point cat
Prepare to be unpleasantly surprised

Truth be told, I’m more of a dog person, but I like cats — and cats find me fascinating. I think it’s because I’m aloof around them and I think they deeply respect this and view me as some kind of two-legged super cat. Obsessed with cats, it grates on the Houseguest’s soul that cats find me irresistible. Her old roommates had a cat named Murray whom she loved dearly, but naturally, he was enamored of me.

Murray, the Houseguests's beloved cat friend
Have I told you I find you fascinating? (Murray)

What can I say? I’m human catnip. Maybe cats can sense I have helped their kind out before? When my L.A. friends’ landlord evicted them (which kind of meant I got evicted too), we had to move suddenly. The cat that had pooped on my bedding freaked out and got out of the house on eviction day and refused to come back in. As the sun descended and we prepared to leave , one of the squabblers wanted to leave the cat (he wouldn’t let sentiment get in the way of practicality). Showing that I didn’t harbor a grudge over the pooping incident, I used my cat whisperer powers and eventually coaxed the beastie close enough to corral it.

Another example was when we moved into the Best Western hotel after our eviction. My friends had nowhere to leave their two cats. They vigorously argued over the fate of the two beasts. To settle the issue, I ended up setting up a cat habitat in my car in the hotel parking garage. The cats lived quite content there for five days.

On the loose

So, back to my passenger. After a few minutes, she returned with a backpack and a small cat carrier that looked almost like a cocoon with a small furry face stuck out of it. The cat was meowing but still, everything was going smoothly. Until I started driving. My passenger couldn’t even wait for the trip to end in four miles before she freed the cat. Hell, we weren’t even a mile into the trip before I realized she’d popped the young cat out of its carrier. Next thing I know, it was wandering around the back seat meowing its brains out. The cat appeared a little agitated and she told me it had never been in a car before so she let it out to try and calm it down.

Gee thanks…

A lot of drivers would have kicked her out then and there, but she was having a bad day. Although seriously annoyed with her, I decided there was nothing to gain by attacking her in her fragile, weepy state. I just asked her to hold onto it. I have no idea what led to the breakdown of her marriage, but she’d already broken our agreement and I’d only known her for fifteen minutes.

Dropping her off, I told her I hoped things worked out for her. Parking, I took some tape I had in my glove box and used it to dab up cat hair — luckily it hadn’t shed too much — and some kibble she’d apparently tried hand-feeding the cat with but dropped. Then I went to help my next passenger load up and move all her earthly belongings to an extended stay hotel. And then I drove as fast as I could for the suburbs.

Interested in more of my work? Read a sample of Not Helping, a tale of addiction and the importance of communication! (It’s a work in progress)

Photo credits

Murry Inverted. Copyright by the Houseguest

Bahga Close-Ups 1 | Stephanie Booth https://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/

Abbie Siamese Flame Point by wakeuphatesgirl.deviantart.com

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8 thoughts on “I Was This Close to Kicking a Cat Out of My Car

  1. Do u ever wonder if you were a cat in previous life? Aloof. Overy thoughtful. Persnickety in a totally useless way. Cat magnet. Reincarnation is complete bullshit, but this kind is shit makes you wonder…

  2. I have no idea what led to the breakdown of her marriage, but she’d already broken our agreement and I’d only known her for fifteen minutes: Great point, Sean.

  3. I know how it feels when someone is breaking a simple rule you’ve asked them to respect, and you would like to kick them but you don’t because you feel bad for them. I felt like I was right there in the car.

    1. Sean D. Layton

      Glad I was able to convey that. Yes, it blew my mind that she did that. I had warring emotions — I felt bad for her but I was also getting annoyed.

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