Long time reader, occasional
commenter, first time submitter here. Call me Kuroneko4276, A. because that's
my commenter name and B. because I have several black rescue cats and the only
politics you'll ever hear from me are 'please spay and neuter your animals,'
'black cats are GOOD luck' and 'adopt, don't shop.'
This happened to me today in the awful snowstorm that's hit the East Coast. I was heading home from work and needed to get something, so I stopped at a large big-box store where some of my friends work, knowing from their texts that they were still at work despite the snow and figuring “well, if it's really dead in there like it was at my work, I can hang around and chat with them like we do sometimes.” I work at a not-quite-retail establishment that doesn't shut down for the holidays and we pretty much spent the day catching up on projects and then playing charades with the boss until it was closing time. (I have the best boss since Fezziwig, so I will call him that here.)
So I got to the Big Boxmart and it was a damn madhouse. Apparently nobody has ever seen snow before and folks were buying bottled water, milk, bread and flashlights like the Albino Brain Chigger Apocalypse was upon us all, plus they were twenty-five deep at the returns desk because hey, Boxing Day in this country is really Return All The Presents Day. Some people! Feeling a little sad that my friends were stuck there in the Nth circle of retail hell, I looked around and made a note of who was working where, then I added four cold sodas from the case to my shopping basket, waited in line like a good custy, bought my stuff and then went around to my friends' cashwraps, distributing carbonated goodness like the damn Coke Fairy. Root beer for Applejack, Sprite for Princess, Diet Dr. Pepper for Big Mama and regular Coke for Big Macintosh (whom I shall call that because A. he's the girl I call 'Applejack's big brother and B. the two of them pretty much are the same, character-wise, as their 'My Little Pony' equivalents and would get a hell of a kick out of being called that here.) We've been friends for a good while, so I have their favorite drinks memorized.
Except I did not see Big Macintosh where he'd been a moment ago. Oh, well, dude is built like a fridge and every time a little old lady needs something huge hauled to her grannymobile, he's the one they get, so I went and peered through the opener-closer doors. Sure enough, there's Big Mac in his bright-orange hoodie, way out in the far-away where the snowplows haven't even been, talking to someone in a car that's at the end of the most fabulous display of twisty, turny car-tire cursive I have seen this side of a 'Dukes of Hazzard' rerun. You could see from the tracks that this vehicle was either being driven by someone really far Southern who had never seen snow before or had hit the holiday eggnog before getting behind the wheel.
So, being my helpfully helpful self (Applejack and her brother do call me 'Pinkie Pie' sometimes, deservedly,) I started walking across the parking lot to see what was up. A couple of other people, including dear old Fezziwig, who had evidently stopped after work just like I had, were gathering around the spun-out car to see what the eff, and as I got closer I heard them talking.
“Ma'am, you really need to put something in your trunk, then you'll be able to drive safely,” Big Mac told her.
“No, it's a Mercedes. I just need someone to scrape this lot. Can't you call a snowplow?”
“We only have two in town and one's up at the hospital clearing their lot,” a lady in scrubs explained. To be fair, we do not get much snow here normally.
I noticed that the lady in the Mercedes had really-far-Southern plates, that, and she had a sort of elderly, rich, 'my-husband-normally-does-the-driving' look to her. She also had a ritzy-tits attitude that made me kind of want to slug her.
“Well, can't you get some shovels and clear a path for my car?”
“Nope,” said Big Mac. (See what I mean?) “For one thing, it's a liability issue and for another, we sold out of shovels an hour ago. I really do think that some weight in the trunk would put it right, though.”
“Really, ma'am,” Fezziwig agreed. “My other car is just like this and with a rear-wheel drive, you've really got to load the trunk down to drive in snow.”
This is true. Fezziwig has a really cool Mercedes his dad left him, but 99% of the time he just drives his old pickup truck, because he's one of those rare down-to-earth millionaires where you'd seriously never know he employs a ton of people unless somebody called him 'boss' and even then you'd think he was a building contractor or something, to look at him. Dude really does rock the scruffy sometimes.
“No, it's a Mercedes. I'm not putting crap in the trunk. You hicks need to plow this lot!”
Now, that was not fair. Sure, Big Mac has a somewhat...rural accent, and Fezziwig was wearing his flannel shirt because he'd been doing some chores and things at work. He's a good boss who never makes us do a thing he wouldn't do himself and works every holiday so as many employees as possible can be home with their families. And everyone had boots and Carharrts and other sensible work clothes on because A. they're at work, and they dress warmly on snow days, and B. it's not exactly New York City, my location, but it's not Dogpatch, USA, either. (Though I suppose I could call it that...) I'm not from the place myself and my accent sticks out like a sore thumb, but for a rural-ish small town, the people couldn't be nicer and I wouldn't want to live anyplace else except just perhaps back home.
So I bristled like a pissed cat and walked over.
“Ma'am, is there a problem?” I asked, in my poshest Mid-Atlantic tones, basically my Rarity-sounding 'customer service' voice that covers my real accent.
“Oh, thank God!” the hosebeast cried. “Yes! These people won't call a plow for my car and I need to get back to my hotel!”
That gave me time to notice two things. One, this awful Mercedes-driving custy had a rosary on her rearview mirror, a crucifix on her neck and a St. Christopher medal clanking against it. Every inch of her middle-aged, over-entitled self screamed 'but why do I have to get insurance with birth-control for my employees? Discrimination!' I have relatives on the one side who are just like her. And two, she had a small amount of animal hair on the sleeve of the oh-so-posh black coat that, it must be confessed, really looked a lot like the one I had on. So she was assuming I'd be sympathetic because I looked as glamorously freezing as she did and sounded like I'd just left the country club.
“Actually, I wouldn't try to plow around your car. I mean, supposing the plow were to skid and crash into it? Do you know how much new fenders for a Mercedes cost?”
“Oh, my God!” the lady cried, having clearly not thought of that.
“Exactly! I think that's just Whom we need to involve, don't you? I'm going to tell you what Father Patrick told me for getting home safely in snowstorms, it works simply every time. What he told me to do was go to a store like this one and buy as much clay cat litter and pet kibble as you can fit in your trunk. Simply fill it up! Everything else you bought, just put it on the back seat and trust Jesus. Then you need to say a quick prayer to St. Jerome, and you need to promise that if he gets you through the snowstorm, you'll take the animal things to a shelter and donate them the minute the roads are clear. Your good deed for the animals will be enough to keep the car safe, really, and with the Saint's intervention God will get you right out of this mess. Father Patrick told us all about it in his last Advent homily, how it got him back home from Alaska without a skid.”
“Really?!” the lady cried, clapping her hands together and beaming at me like I'd just made her day. “Do they sell pet supplies here?”
“I just bought a few myself, since it was so snowy,” I gushed.
“Then that's it! Oh, God bless you!”
And with that, she got out of the Mercedes and started slipping and scurrying over the slushy mess back into the Big Boxmart.
“...I didn't know you were Catholic,” Fezziwig observed. “I saw you in church yesterday.”
“I'm not. She is,” I pointed to the rosary on the rearview mirror. “And I've known enough of them to 'speak it.'”
“So there's no Father Patrick?”
“Well, I'm sure there must be at least one priest somewhere called that. None that I know of.”
“And will St. Jerome really protect her car?” Big Mac asked.
“If she promises to take the cat litter she's filled her trunk with to the pet shelter, then possibly.”
“Hooooly shit,” Fezziwig remarked. “So you just...”
“Translated y'all's good advice into 'religious rich-bitch' language? Yeah, pretty much. Us Yankees speak 'stupid' a lot clearer than folks down here. Oh, and I got you this, cause it was such a madhouse in there,” and I gave Big Mac his Coke.
“Welp, I'd better go help her load up all the cat litter. Just sell her the heaviest?”
“Whatever's heavy and cheap. The shelter doesn't like clumping so much as regular, but whatever she wants to buy. And maybe persuade her that the saint will be impressed by senior and kitten chow, they cost more and shelters always need 'em.”
“I know I'm not allowed to ask, but I really have to wonder now...what ARE you, religiously?” Fezziwig asked.
“Isn't it obvious, Boss?” I grinned. “I'm a crazy cat lady.”
And, I thought but did not say out loud, a partly-reformed grifter who's trying her damnedest to be worthy of her second chance. Even around crustys.