“Yay!  You’re home 24/7 now. We are so delighted!” Fluffy, my old lady cat, purrs as she rubs up against me. She is seventeen years old, has had at least 8 lives, and loves to cuddle; but only purrs when she is very pleased. She is the queen of the household.

“Yeah, you’re home all the time now so you can serve us ALL the time. Pet me when I want,” adds Wimpie, the 10-year-old “baby”. For some reason she still seems like the little baby kitten I got from the shelter who was failure-to-thrive. I had taken her home to give her one more chance at living. At the shelter she wouldn’t eat, just whined and complained. Then she had gotten too weak to do even that. I molly-coddled her, fed her while I held her, and had to work hard to get her to eat and drink. Wimpie is scared of everything; she gives a new meaning to the word “scaredy-cat”. When she hears a noise or another person, she flies back to the bed and cowers under it for a couple of hours until she feels safe.

“Cuddle almost all the time except when I don’t feel like it,” purrs Fluffy.

“You can feed us treats all the time too! Like, NOW!” orders Wimpie.

Mom explains, “No, you’ve got the whole concept of me being home wrong. I am working from home, so it will be just like when I’m not here, while I’m working. So, shoo! Go do whatever it is you do when I’m at work.”

“But you are here. You sit where you usually sit. It’s no different,” adds the old lady.

“No, I am working at home, social distancing. Y’all have to stay at least 6 feet away from me, so Shoo! Go back to the bed and sleep till I’m off.”

I get comfortable at my table, get completely logged in to work on the phone and computer and am about to start when I hear a scamper, scamper, jump, keys clicking all at once and a cat purring and rubbing on my face.

Dang! That blasted Wimpie has hopped off the bed on the table over the screen, onto the keys, jammed the computer, and is purring and rubbing against my face. I unceremoniously lift her up and drop her to the floor. “Scat! Cat!”

“Shit! The work screen is gone. I’m going to be late.” I holler at Wimpie as I untangle the screens and log back in again. 11:35. So much for my perfect attendance bonus. “Wimpie! You owe my $75. Idiot!”

I grumble on, “Fat chance for that. It’s only me who works. Y’all just lounge and irritate me, play and eat like the fat cats you are, and then poop and pee. All of which costs me money.”

I start work, answering the phone, taking messages, dealing with the coronavirus emergencies as person after person calls to cancel doctor appointments, check their symptoms, wonder if they have “it”, see what they should do if they get symptoms, call with real symptoms, refer them to Covid19 hotlines, as well as answer the more normal calls for refills, plumbing, heating, and electrical issues, and so many more problems, real and imagined and just plain stupid.

Work is going along well at last. I hear a swish, crackle, and feel something curling up along my leg and then next to me. Fluffy purrs against my ear and shoulder. Against my will, I scratch her under her soft, furry, rumbling throat. She purrs louder, hops up onto the keyboard and rubs her face into mine. Now I can neither type nor see and she steps on the hang up button and the caller is disconnected.

  “AAGGGGHHHHHH!” I shout as I lift her up and drop her to the floor. Fluffy hisses at me and climbs right back under the table and back up onto the keyboard. I lift her up and carry her to the bed. “Stay! Go to sleep like a normal cat does when their parent is away working.”  

I hear her growling and mumbling under her breath, “A normal cat? No such thing. I am definitely not a normal cat.” She falls asleep on my pillow.

My supervisor, Helen, calls me on the intercom, “Sara, is everything ok? You don’t seem to be taking many calls.”

“Yes, Ma’am. Sorry. I’ll pick up my pace.”

“Ok, you had better! Or you won’t be able to work from home anymore.” Helen hangs up.

I grumble, “I’ll pick up my pace if these annoying cats leave me alone.”

I remove the extra letters from the ticket where we put the call information, call the client back to get the rest of the information, apologizing profusely for hanging up on her. Even though it wasn’t me. It was the old lady Fluffy, who gets away with way too much because she is so old. And precious. I take a couple of deep breaths and answer the next call. 

When three of us were still working from the office, all of us cat lovers, we decided we should get each of our cats their own keyboard to sleep on. However logically we figured it wouldn’t make any difference. They would still sleep on the one we wanted to type from. If ever I do see one at a yard sale or thrift store, once they reopen, I may try it anyhow! I would have to pretend that the keyboard was mine and the one I wanted to type on first, though.

Back to work. I don’t look at either cat as I most definitely don’t want to catch their eyes, as they think I’ll give them more attention. I feel something behind me. I look. Nothing. I look again. Nothing. I answer the next call. As I greet them, I feel something beside me, glance over. Nothing. I finish the call and start the next one. I feel a paw on my side. I look. Nothing. I don’t look but reach down and grab a paw attached to Wimpie.

She purrs in advance as she knows I’m going to pet her and scratch her behind the ears because I love her so much. NOT. But I do. Her fur is delightfully silky to the touch, so I pet her more. She disappears and I keep answering calls. I feel the paw again, can’t say anything since I’m on the phone, so she purrs more loudly for attention. That doesn’t work so she yowls at me. “SSSHHHH. I’m on the phone.”

Kevin, the caller says, “Oh, how cute, I hear your cats trying to get your attention. Isn’t it great to be able to work from home and have them close to you?”

“Yes. It’s wonderful.” I state. The cats Mrreeooww again.

The call ends, I’m about to take another and, swat, swat! Oh, I forgot to put the tie side of the pillow I sit on towards the back, instead of on the side. Wimpie is having a ball chasing the ties and batting them and me. “Go away!” Go back to your hidey hole and sleep. NOW!” She looks up at me and purrs and keeps playing. "Whatever did I do to deserve you two rotten-good-for-nothing cats?"

The day continues with me getting more and more frustrated at their antics. “Can’t y’all just leave me alone until I get off from work? Shoo! You’re tired. Go. To. Sleep.”

They laugh or at least it seems like that is what they are doing.

Once again Fluffy sneaks up under me and jumps onto the keyboard, jamming it and locking the screen again. “Down! Get off me.” It takes me ten minutes to get back on the remote website.

Kandi, another supervisor calls me on the intercom, “Sara, why have you been off the phone for 12 minutes? You can’t be doing other stuff just because you’re working from home. You can lose that privilege, you know. You most focus on the job and the callers. Nothing else. Or else…” Click.

“Fluffy! Wimpie! Stay away from the computer and from me. The powers-to-be are getting angry at me. Because of y’all. Sleep.”

A little later, Wimpie sneaks by and hops up over the back of the bench, up over my shoulder and on to the keyboard. I lift her up and drop her down to the floor. “Go Away!”

Fluffy sneaks under the table but this time sits by me so I can pet her. At least she’s not on the keyboard! I pet her, she purrs, and falls asleep. My leg is getting uncomfortable and then starts hurting. I don’t dare move as I would wake her up.  The things we do for our cats. If she were a person or a child, I would tell her I have to move, do so, and they would resettle themselves and all would be well. With a cat, I risk getting hissed at, slapped, or bitten and then growled at as they slink away grumble purring just loud enough to let me know they don’t appreciate being relocated.

Wimpie returns. Jumps on the keyboard and both the caller and the screen disappear. I relocate her to the floor and again log back on, fix the mistakes in the ticket, call the client back, apologize profusely, blame the cat, and finish the call.

The intercom rings. Shit. Now what?

Ms Lyon, the human resource person, is on the line. She says, “We listened to that last call. Both of them. We can’t have you working from home with cats distracting you and hanging up on callers.” You will have to return to the office and work from the office. Coronavirus or no Coronavirus.”

I try to apologize and say it won’t happen again. “I am so sorry! I will shut the cats on the other side of the door so they can’t disturb me.”

“OK, I’ll give you one more chance. Shut that door and work.”

I do and get back to work.

“Mmmmrrreeooowwww.” It’s the duo at the crack of the door. “MMrrrreeOOwwwwWW.” They keep getting louder.

Mabel, an elderly lady on the phone croons, “Do I hear cats? Oh, they’re unhappy. You need to give them whatever they want. You should be nicer to your cats. Whatever you’re doing is obviously quite mean, so quit it and give some loving to your cats.”

“Yes, Mabel, Ma’am. Those are my brats, I mean cats, and I am being nice to them. But I do have to work so I can keep buying her the treats she wants.”

“I understand that,” she says, “I’ve got five myself and can barely keep them fed and happy.”

The intercom sounds off. Shit.

Ms Lyon is on the line. “Sara, I listened again to your last call. I have just one thing to say to you. You. Are. Fired.”

Isn’t it great to be at home with my cats?


(Names have been changed to protect the guilty ones.)

April 22, 2020 17:36

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