Alex, King of the Lobby—Anne Holmes
Alex, King of the Lobby
We moved to The Parkridge three years ago, my two caretakers and I. Previously, we had lived just four blocks down the street so we were still in our beloved neighborhood.
I liked it here. I liked my caretakers and the arrangement we had. They let me come and go as I pleased. They felt that I was quite capable and that it would be a real disservice to only let me go out under supervision. They felt that the chances of something “bad” happening to me were quite slim. Besides, I always had my ID on me; name, address and phone number; so if there was a problem, someone could always help me to get home. Some people thought this arrangement was not wise, but I was thankful to have such open minded caretakers.
Now, just so that you REALLY BELIEVE that my caretakers made the BEST possible decision regarding the level of independence they granted me, that they did NOT just do this for everyone or that they were being lazy, I should state that they took on two more residents since our move to The Parkridge who did NOT enjoy the level of independence that I did. Two girls, I nicknamed them Rosie and Olive. Rosie and Olive could only leave the house WITH supervision because that’s all that they could handle. So you see, my caretakers evaluated each resident individually, and determined the level of independence allowed to them based on their capabilities.
And, boy, did I cherish my independence! I had a basic routine; almost every day after breakfast, I would ask if I could go outside and they almost always said yes. I would go to the lobby and sit in one of the chairs because I liked to see the other people who lived in the building. I would greet everyone as they would come and go. I just LOVED to do this!
Most of the people were quite receptive to me. They would interact with me in a very friendly way. I have over heard some of them telling my caretakers how much they enjoyed seeing me. They would say things like “Alex is like our own personal Wal-Mart greeter” or “I always look forward to seeing Alex, he makes my day”. I do really enjoy these people. Of course, there were some who gave me a sideways glance and kept walking, but I didn’t take it personally.
And there were a few other residents in the building, like Rosie and Olive, who were only allowed to leave under supervision; Denver and Edgar come to mind. They seemed suspicious of me; I don’t think they liked me being in the lobby at all. They seemed to be threatened by my presence there, or maybe they were just jealous of my independence. Either way, I enjoyed that too. It seemed to reinforce my status as “Alex, King of the Lobby”.
About three blocks from The Parkridge was a construction site that I had been visiting for weeks ever since construction began. The site was planned out well; they were very careful and saved all the surrounding trees. The trees were home to quite a few bird families, the parents now busy tending to their hungry new babies.
I could spend day after day at this site and never get bored. It was fascinating! First came the digging; a huge pit deeper than I had ever seen. At the bottom of the pit, many narrow wood boxes were constructed and metal rods stuck into them, the rods so long they poked out above the top. It was at this point that I could barely contain myself; I wanted to jump in and folic amid the foundation of this soon to be great building. I was very tempted.
I was always able to locate the best spot to observe every activity despite the constant progress made in construction and change in landscape. Sometimes I would see Denver or Edgar walk by with their caretakers. Occasionally they saw me. I knew where I could observe without being observed myself as well, the stealthy approach. This approach came in handy for bird watching. I could identify each individual bird and the daily routines of all of them.
After all the time spent at the site, I couldn’t help but develop relationships with the workers. They were so nice to me, just like the people at The Parkridge. But with an added benefit; somehow I had managed to inspire them to share food with me. How’s that for a perk! As much as I adored my caretakers, they seemed to think that I needed to lose some weight. They were probably perplexed as to why the low calorie diet they imposed upon me was not effective…HA! If they only knew!
One fine summer day, I moseyed over to my current favorite spot, the side with the most trees and shade in an attempt to dampen the August heat. My view was not quite as good from here, but my comfort level was high and I settled in for an enjoyable day of stealthy bird and construction observation. A few breaks with my worker friends for camaraderie and snacks, and I was back on task.
I must have dozed off because when I looked around, my worker friends were nowhere to be found. They must have finished up and left for the day. I figured it was about time for me to go home as well, but not until I made one last lap around the site to find out what had happened during my nap.
WHOA, they finally removed some bulky equipment and pulled down some large boards revealing a curious area in the middle of the site. That area had piqued my interest for quite a while. It was time to move in for a closer look.
I cased the site and identified the best approach; I would zigzag my way along the tops of some thick concrete walls. I climbed over the fence, hopped down and climbed up the closest wall. This would be easy.
Off I went; I was about halfway there when I heard quite a ruckus. It was the birds. They were dive bombing, going in and out of the trees and through the site. I froze and watched for a moment, mesmerized, but shook it off and continued. They were dive bombing right in my path. I was determined to get there, struck a low profile and continued as best I could despite the distraction… “Focus, Alex, focus”… I was SO close, they dove, I stood and took a few swats at them, then…
The next day my worker friends arrived at the site. The first and last thing they did each day was scan the site for potential hazards and safety violations.
I woke up. …Oooh… my head…
“Alex fell down the shaft! Quick, come and help! And here… call this phone number!”
I was carefully lifted and removed from the shaft. They moved me over to a staging area and assessed my injuries. My caretakers arrived in record time.
“Oh my God… Alex, we were worried sick about you when you didn’t come home last night! What happened! Is he OK?!”
“Yeah, he’ll be fine. Just a few tender spots and a bump on the head.”
I was starting to feel better, slowly stretching my limbs.
“Alex, stay still, we’ll carry you home. What’s this… a nail?!”
There was a nail in my fur. It happened all the time, you know, hanging out at the construction site all day. It wasn’t a big deal at all; I had really thick, long fur which prevented the nails from ever touching my skin. I always performed a thorough removal of foreign debris before I went home, so they never knew.
“Alex, I think you need spend a quiet day at home today. And make a visit to the vet too.”
My caretaker removed the nail and picked me up. My other caretaker kissed my head and snuggled me as best he could considering my held position.
“How about a purr Alex.”
“Here, take these with you, he LOVES these.”
“Beef Jerky?”… “Alex!”
I settled into my caretaker’s arms for the short walk home. I heard some barking and lifted my head to see what was going on. Edgar was out with his caretaker. He was barking at the birds. REALLY now… some just have NO class!