Monday, July 13, 2009

The Shop Cat

Such a plaintive pointy face!

Note her right paw is like a club foot.

Not a pampered cat, but a friendly one.

Our trip to Yuma, AZ last week was for the purpose of buying and driving back to Wyoming two used "motor homes." Husband has bought and sold several since late spring, adding them to his ever changing stock of vintage tractors and refurbished construction equipment. Coming from a long paternal lineage of "wheeler-dealers" it is a natural side line for him and for his twin brother.

The units are meant to be checked over at the dealer's shop so that we have a reasonable assurance of all systems in good working order. Although we suspected that the man who was meant to be in charge of this inspection had been less than vigilant, still there was no reason to suspect that the fuel pump would "die" on the newer coach less than 150 miles into our return journey. We loaded our Toyota Rav onto a car trailer behind the motor home and set out late in the afternoon.

I was sitting at the little kitchenette table reading [of course!] when I felt the vehicle slowing. We were in a long stretch of red rocks, dust and sagebrush. "Why are we stopping here?" I asked. "Because," said husband grimly, "the engine has quit!" Providentially, he was able to coast the coach off the highway onto the flat verge. As sunset added a ruddy stain to the sky, he prodded at the engine, checked fuses, tried again and again to start the motor. "Fuel pump," we speculated.

We sat in the gathering darkness, the motorhome rocked by passing trucks. Giving up hope that the engine would start, husband removed the binder chains and backed the Toyota off the car trailer. Lights in the distance suggested there might be a town up ahead, although the chances of contacting help after business hours seemed remote. We locked the coach, transferred our suitcases to the car and headed toward the town, hoping at least to find a motel and contact a tow service in the morning. Driving down the dark road we decided to punch in 911 on the cell phone and report the location of our disabled and abandoned vehicle. The emergency dispatcher rang us back directly to state that a trooper in a patrol car was in the area and would meet us near the motor home if we would turn around. Within moments of returning to the roadside, flashing red and blue lights heralded the arrival of the trooper. He proceeded to scold us for having stopped in that particular spot! [I thought it rather obvious that we had little choice.] When he had done fussing, he rang up a 24 hour tow service and left us, sand spurting under his tires.

The tow truck operator was a competant and agreeable man who quickly had the front of the motorhome jacked up and ready to be "dragged" to a garage. Back in our car, ready to follow him, we noted that although the sun had now been down for several hours, the temperature was still at nearly 100 degrees. The motor home was detached and settled in the corner of a large lot behind a garage and we rather disconsolately made ready for the rest of the night, glad at least that we could occupy the comfortable bed with the clean linens we had brought with us.

We had breakfast at a small cafe and returned to the garage just as the tow truck man arrived for work. As we talked with him, a bony cat appeared and gave a tentative "meow." I bent to stroke her coarse and dusty coat and she purred with pleasure. "Do they feed you here?" I asked her. "Oh yes, she gets food," the man replied, offhandedly. He went on to say that her damaged foot had "always been that way, doesn't seem to bother her." The cat had one paw on my sandaled foot and gave a gentle nip to my bare ankle. Her rusty purr accompanied our arrangements for repairs. As we crunched across the gravel to our car, she sat calmly on the gritty cement floor, only her yellow-eyed stare acknowledging our departure.


  1. I love quirky cats! What an adventure that must have been. I hope all went well with the repairs. Is there any recourse for the person who should have done a better inspection? Nice post.

  2. The motor home which broke down is still in AZ being repaired--we went back for the second one which had been very poorly prepped. Recourse, as in formal protest to the dealership, has been launched.
    I like the term "quirky"--it describes life, doesn't it? I'm impressed that many of us are trying to write the day to day stories as a way to make sense of it all, to instill some wry humor into situations that are difficult.