I doubt any of you have ridden 14 miles under the hood of a Honda Civic…
Saf-T-Cat has. This is her story…
Don’t be dismayed that I’ve already given away the punchline. Sure, you’re wondering about Mouse’s (Saf-T-Cat) journey, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m going to fill in the details that lead up to it with stuff I “SHOULD” have noticed before I got to work. This story only makes sense in the light of hindsight.
The morning began like most others. I woke up late and rolled over to wake my wife up. She hit me, so I got up and took a shower. She was still asleep when I got out. Up to that point all was normal.
The dog was cuddled up next to my wife and our kitten Luci (short for Lucifer) was running round the bedroom flicking her tail and gurgling (she doesn’t meow) to signal she was hungry. Not inconsequentially, Luci also does that right before she darts between your legs to escape captivity. Mouse was not around, which was odd. Not odd enough for me to notice, though.
I groggily put on my clothes and headed to the kitchen. Luci followed, flicking the whole time so I fed her. Still no Mouse.
In my haste I retrieved a well-balanced breakfast of Monster and fruit snacks and headed to the car. I got in, started the engine and then sat in the driveway for a minute to pull up some music on my phone. My daughter came running out and tapped on the window to give me an Easter egg to take to work. It was suspiciously wet… on the inside.
Let’s rewind a little further
At this point it is important to note that my car, which is ordinarily parked in the garage, was in the driveway all night. Recently my wife purchased a new vehicle in preparation for the lease expiring on the SUV she’s been driving for the past three years. We were scheduled to turn it in this week, but as you might imagine, these strange times have made that difficult. So, we made arrangements with the dealership a few weeks ago to keep it parked in the garage until they can accept it. Thus, my car got the boot.
The night before, my wife and son had been in the garage organizing tools and cleaning supplies. It’s not unusual for the cats to wander out whenever someone is working in there, and everyone vaguely remembers both of them skulking around during the cleaning activities. That night, however, the garage door had been open due to my car’s newly downgraded status.
At bed time, the garage was closed up, the animals were ushered inside (or so we thought), and everything seemed normal. The next morning even seemed that way, despite Mouse’s absence. So, I cranked up the Taylor Swift and drove to work.
And then I realized how wrong I was
I pulled into the parking lot after what appeared to be an uneventful commute and took my time exiting the car. As soon as I did I heard the sound. A cat. From the sound of it a very scared one. The sounds appeared to be coming from my car, too. I doubted that was possible in the moment, given that I rarely trust my ears to tell the truth these days. So, I looked in a nearby bush. Nothing.
After a few minutes it was clear that the noise was indeed coming from my car. I just knew it was Luci. She’s jet black and very sneeky. I thought maybew she’d gotten into the trunk or was wedged under the back seat. But checking both of those places yeilded no results. There was only one place left… under the hood.
I popped the latch and propped it open expecting a fury of devil-kitten to come flying out at my unprotected eyeballs. Instead, I just heard more cries. Then… Mouse emerged from behind the engine. She had a small scratch on her nose, but was otherwise unharmed (physically).
It should have never happened…
- If I had been a more responsible pet owner…
- If I had paid more attention…
- If I had woken up on time…
- If I hadn’t parked my car in the driveway…
Those are all statements I would expect to hear during a typical safety incident investigation. Often spoken by those who have no grasp of reality. The hard part is that those statements aren’t completely untrue. But even if any of those “if” statements had been true, they would not have guaranteed a different outcome.
The event was much more complex than my inadequacies. Unfortunately those are easier to identify than the deeper issues. Consider this:
- The unfamiliar parking situation had unintended consequences that affected another process.
- The cat dynamic in the house created a bias toward Luci as the doer of mischief, so no one considered Mouse might be outside.
- My wife likes to organize (this is also a contributing cause for most of my lost items… jus sayin’).
- The morning routine had no provisions for checking on the furry A-holes, only feeding them.
So here’s the end of the story:
Mouse died that afternoon 🙁
I’m totally kidding. She is fine. I’m surprised she is, but also incredibly happy. I would have been heartbroken.
The actual end of the story is that we learned A LOT from mouse riding under the hood of my car all the way to work. Not the least of which is that she is one lucky cat who lives on to share her safety message with any who would hear it:
Don’t blame the people who made mistakes. Figure out how to keep their mistakes from causing CATastrophe (sorry, couldn’t help myself). The more you do that, the less you’ll have to count on luck.
Here’s Mouse’s first on-screen adventure
If you’re new to this blog, let me introduce myself. My name is Jason. I’m a safety professional, podcast host, author, and world-renowned origami artist (that’s a lie). If you’re NOT new to this blog, go buy my book… it’s like this but multiplied by the power of unicorn tears. In any case, I hope you enjoy the content here. Please like, share, and join in the discussion as we all pursue Relentless Safety.