Jan 3, 2009

One of the worst days of my life

Before I unleash the second part of my 2009 preview, let me splash cold water over the proceedings and talk about the death of my pet.

A moment of bittersweet comedy happened on the day my 19-year-old cat Whiskey died.

Her death was peaceful and tender. At the vet's, I held her eye-to-eye as she entered her final moments. After she died, I left her at the surgery to go through the grim rigmorole of cremation. I walked into the cold street, swinging the empty cat box at my side. The box was a symbol of what I had lost.

As I left the vetinary surgery, with my whole world collapsed, I got in one of the numerous private hire cabs that offer their services to burdened animal owners. I eased into the back seat, and was bemused to see I had positioned the box with the front grill facing me. Force of habit. I was crying in little hiccups: I took a deep breath, and gasped out my street name.

The driver had one of those weather-worn friendly faces, with big brown eyes. He noticed the cat box and my teared face. He seemed to put two and two together. He fixed his gaze upon me through the mirror, staring right into my grief, deep into my own eyes. It was a moment of real connection, and in a thick accent, he said a few words: "I'm sorry, mate."

He was sorry for me. Truly sorry for me! He had reached out with a soft, empathetic understanding. I responded with a sob. I remember saying the only words I could think of in my sadness. "She... died."

The friendly face in the the mirror blurred as more tears fell down my face.

The taxi driver halted for a moment, then replied, "No. I'm sorry, mate. I've taken another call. You have to get out."

I have never misread a situation so much in my life. There had been no 'connection' at all. He was just being practical - I hadn't noticed him taking another job on the radio as I got into the car. And bless him, he looked so mortified once he realised how blackly comic the misunderstanding was.

My tears gave way to giggles. As I walked off, box in hand, I'm sure there was a little sprightliness in my step. Thank you, taxi man, for unwittingly giving me the chortles on one of the worst days of my life.


Anonymous said...

Sad to hear about your cat, but your post reminded me of a similar comicly dark situation I was once in in my previous job as a postman.
While delivering to a house on my round I noticed lots of cards for one of them and as I approached the door the womans whoose name was on them opened it so being a jolly sort of chap I started to sing Happy Birthday to her,w hich brought a wierd sort of smile to her face and with a hurried thank you she was gone . . it was only much later when I got back to the post office was I informed that she rung up to say thank you for making her smile, I was then informed by the Post Master that they we're'nt brithday cards, they were condolence cards, her husband had recently died . . mortified or what, but I gave her a smile on day when she needed it :)

Fat Roland said...

Innapropriate jollity is going to be all the rage now. That's hilarious.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry you lost you cat Fat Roland. A really shitty day. It sounds like the guy couldn't possibly have made it any worse and in a weird kinda way actually made it better.

I hope you're back at your best soon.

Fat Roland said...

Yeah, a real bummer. Thanks for your thoughts. Bizarre fact: the black & white abstract thumbnail of me that you can see in my blogger profile is based on the black & white 'design' on my cat's back.