I work at an animal shelter where we regularly have to assist potential adopters handle the pets. A LOT of clients hate it, particularly in the cat rooms because they ‘know what they’re doing’ and don’t need our help to pet a damn cat. Which, admittedly, 8/10 is totally the case. Most people have enough common sense to not yank a scared Tom out by his scruff or force-cuddle a cranky tortie until she loses her already thin patience and tries to filet all the skin from her assailant’s neck. But society never fails to provide those very special individuals to keep us all humble and honest. Truthfully, I’d rather NOT be standing over your shoulder like an unnecessarily concerned Jewish hen, but time and again those Beast Masters have wormed their way in, pissed off an otherwise lovely cat, and gotten their ass bit or scratched. And the THE CAT is the one held responsible.
So, in the interest of the well-being of our animals we HAVE to screen for these individuals. And I promise you, we are not thrilled about it either. Ask nearly any shelter or clinic literally anywhere, turnover rate for kennel technicians is exceedingly high. We’re chronically short-staffed. So while Trisha is casually leaning against the wall, watching to make sure you don’t get one of our cats euthanized while you try to snake charm the shy kitten whose mommy was feral while your five kids run around my adoption floor shrieking like head-crabs… I’m behind the scenes. By myself, because half our staff is now obliged to supervise you and your brood of scream-monsters. Answering calls, running cats/dogs to different sections of the building, making sure everyone on meds is thusly medicated, treating health issues, grooming, feeding, watering, and cleaning up after the 100+ other animals we have in the building.
So me and another senior coworker have come up with our own private system. Because, realtalk, if you have the self-awareness to not flip my freshly-spayed Siamese on her back for belly rubs and know when to back off that 10 year-old, declawed, cantankerous owner release who’s still too pissed off that his lifelong owner dumped him for a new puppy to love… By all means, I have no desire to hang over you like a 1950’s school-teacher with a ruler and a taste for child tears, silently drilling apathy into the back of your head over the fact that calls are backing up and my shift-partner is probably contemplating seppuku alone trying to manage everything else by his/herself.
So this is what we do: five minutes. Everyone gets five minutes. Then whichever one of us is free will pop our head into the room and –ever so sweetly– make up a task and ask if we can pull the other away from showing to assist in said made-up task.
If we think you’re smart and capable and responsible enough not offer your appendages up as sacrifices to the Gods of cat rage, we’ll ask you to keep browsing alone and have the front office page us to come back again if you honestly need help or have any questions.
If you’re clumsy and terrible at telling when a cat not only wants you to stop touching it but also wants you to die horribly in a fire –by burning, no sweet, peaceful smoke inhalation to be had for you, my friend… Well, then we drop our supervisor’s name and tell the other technician to ask them for help instead.
Because you’re dumb and we can’t leave you alone.