Saturday, August 31, 2013

Singularly Human

            The smell is the worst part of death.  There is something primal that rises up within you, that tells you, “This is bad.”  If you don’t think about the philosophical implications of death, the notion that something is gone forever, no one can escape that corrupt ancient feeling when you smell death.  When you smell something decaying your entire body is revolted by it.  You instantly back up.  You pause.  Some people want to throw up.  The collective memory of our species tells us this is something you should avoid at all cost.  Perhaps those who didn’t got exposed to more diseases.  Perhaps it is the reptilian portion of our brains telling us to stay alive because death is permanent.  Maybe we are repulsed because we don’t quite understand it and that is terrifying.  Whatever the reason, I know when the freezer gets full and makes the last half of our building smell, it makes our skin crawl. Everyone avoids it.  It’s a silent fear that creeps within.  Like the animals’ spirits are crawling out of their bodies haunting us.  Not only for the biohazardious reasons, but more so for the peace of our own subconscious minds, we call to dispose of the animals immediately.  It is the unconscious mind that is truly nauseated by being so near to death, by the actual discomposing of a body. 

            I am not grossed out by anatomy, but rotting turns my stomach.  I once opened a freezer bag with a dead dog in it only to have its guts drop on my foot.  That only made me change my cloths, not want to throw up.  It simply was not as upsetting as when I opened a bag with a dead cat in it that had been decaying for days in the sun.  When I broke open this bag maggots came spilling out onto the floor and counter.  They hadn’t frozen yet.  Like rice pellets they fell onto the floor.  Too fresh to complete my processing of the animal.  It’s not the maggots that made me sick, but the smell.  It threw me back into a state that is singularly human.  Wrapping up the cat, I put it back down into the freezer to wait for it to be completely frozen.  I could deal with it then, perhaps.

            I don’t think many people think about the actual decaying process of a body. Most people when we think of death, we think of the soul.  We ponder where the conscious has gone.  While theses conversations need to be had, there is something about actually seeing decomposition that brings a person back to a time when there was no religion to comfort us.  Rotting is something man and beast share alike.  Biologically we share the same fate.  And it is disgusting.  Maybe that is why ancient man started burring their dead, to avoid the smell.  All I know is that I will not be able to eat rice for a very long time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Liars

            There is nothing more infuriating than being lied to face to face.  It enrages me.  To think that people believe they can’t tell that we know they are full of it.  To think that they are just oh so clever.  On occasion we have a person come in and drop off a “stray”.  From their demeanor we can tell that this animal is theirs.  It is found in the way they look at the animal, hold it, and are reluctant when we take it out of their arms.  They don’t want to attempt it is theirs because that would mean they would have to go through the surrender process.  Taking responsibility is too much for them.  What people often forget, at least with cats and dogs, is the microchip.  If you are going to give up your pet as a “stray,” one should really remember that when we trace the microchip we are going to discover it was your pet and we will call you out on it.

            This lack of courage is found not only with the owners of cats and dogs.  This past week, I had an 18-year-old girl come in with a huge rat cage saying that she found the rats as strays.  When I asked her about it she said, “My friend dropped them off in a box by my house.  He was very drunk.”  I asked for the friend’s name.  “I don’t know.”  She said.  I asked for a phone number or any information on this person.  She couldn’t come up with any.  I asked if they were at least Facebook friends.  “No.”  She said.  Although I didn’t say it I thought, “But he knows where you live?”  Taking the rats back as she filled out the stray impound card, I was livid.  How dare this little cheeky twat think she could lie to me.   

            Venting to a coworker, I only grew angrier.  We aren’t supposed to say anything negative to the customer.  We aren’t supposed to question what people tell us.  We are supposed to just smile and say okay.  But I had had it.  I returned to the front, calm and collected.  Upon entering the lobby I was horrified to learn that she was visiting with a cat.  I turned to her and asked, “Don’t you need that big rat cage back for your rats?”  She hesitated.  Her eyes darted for just a moment and I knew with all certainty that she was lying.  “Oh.  No.  I just had that one hanging around from an old ferret.”  She stammered.  “With a water bottle, a rat wheel, and aspen hay in it?”  I asked.  “Um yes.”  I turned away disgusted. 

            There was no way she was taking home this cat.  I got one of my better supervisors who I knew would be as outraged as I was.  My supervisor going in to talk to her told her we needed the name of the friend.  Until then she could not visit with any other animals.  Going out to her car she called several people for 20 minutes.  Returning she gave us someone’s first name but not the last name.  We allowed her to go back on the visit.  In the meantime, my supervisor called this person and found out it was her sister.  After 15 minutes of double-talk, the sister confessed it was really both of their rats.  Going back into the visitation room with my supervisor I picked up the cat and gave this little girl a hard fixed stare.  My supervisor informed her that we would not be adopting out to her because of her dishonesty.  With that we walked out without another word, cat and all.  The cat merely meowed, having no clue as to his fate or odds. 

            Lying is a disgusting act that only cowards resort to.  When my coworkers and I sense the dishonesty the passion rises up in us.  Anger is the appropriate response.  It steers us into action.  Although we may turn off our apathy towards some people, I have never seen anyone be able to turn off their anger.  Thank God. With anger we become brave.  We stand up and teeter the line of getting in trouble because we were rude to a customer.  We force people to confront their horrible acts and neglect towards the animals.  You cannot drop off an animal and replace it with another unfortunate creature.  The rage within us won’t allow it.  We don’t always catch the people who try and do this.  This girl may have just gone somewhere else to get a cat.  But one cat’s odds where changed.  I hope for the better.  When I left that night he was still in his kennel, sleeping, flicking his tail as cats will do.  His dice had been cast and he hadn’t had a word on the outcome.  Still, he didn’t seem too bothered by the day’s events.  And the fact that he wasn’t, made all the difference, at least to me.