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Stopping Traffic

by Pam Shirk, North Carolina, USA


Back when the kids were little we had a cat named Muffin, by Mike, who was four yrs old at the time. Muffin was a sweet cat who loved to eat and could convince anyone that he was starving to death, even though he weighed 28 pounds. We tried to keep him on a diet, but he would get out and visit his buddies for snackies.

He not only loved food, he loved riding in cars, having people admire him for the truly handsome cat that he was and visiting all of his many friends. He carried these preferences from Kentucky to Washington State, where we lived while Rob was stationed in Germany for a couple of years.

We found a mobile home on the outskirts of a small town to live in. It was on a hill overlooking a lumber mill and one of the main roads to the mill passed in front of the house. The cats were fascinated with the lumber trucks rolling by as well as the many squirrels living in the walnut tree in our front yard. Muffin was especially fascinated by the scenery and figured out how to open up the sliding glass doors to get out and explore his new world. As the cats were indoor/outdoor at the time, we didn't mind, and joked about how he wasn't too smart, as he hadn't figured out how to close the door.

One day, I was washing dishes when I happened to look out the window and see a fully loaded lumber truck stopped in front of the house with the driver standing in front of it looking at something. I did a quick look around and all of the cats were in the house, except Muffin. I ran outside and was dashing toward the lumber truck when I heard what the driver was saying.

"Look, you're a sweet guy, but I just can't stay here and pet you today. You gotta let me drive on."

He looked desperately at me and pleaded with me to get my cat out of the road. It turned out that Muffin knew which drivers would stop for him and which wouldn't and would stop those he liked to get attention and treats from them. A bunch of the drivers carried cat treats for him and would stop by the house and give him pats and snacks. And I thought they were being cautious because of all the kids in our area, not the cat.

I apologized and promised to try to keep Muffin indoors during the peak driving times, but the driver told me that he really wanted to be able to visit his new friend. So we worked out a compromise. When the truckers blew their horns twice, I'd let Muffin out of the house so that he could visit with his friends. Otherwise I kept him indoors from 8 am to 5 pm weekdays. Muffin got to talk with at least one friend per day and the truckers got to deliver their loads on time. He had a lot of friends driving on that route.


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