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Disappointing Cat-Sitter

6 Jan

In the past, I’ve had local friends to cat-sit for me or to exchange cat-sitting services. During my last few years in Portland, I had a frenemy who–though it was a nightmare to be close to her–was a good cat-sitter who spent hours with my cats. (True, because she was sitting in front of my tv much of that time, I received receipts from Amazon video for episodes of The Walking Dead, a show she knew I dislike.)

During my month with family in Phoenix this December and early January, a professional cat-sitter took care of my cats.

I was at the farmer’s market and was in the process of purchasing groceries, when my brother handed me his smartphone and said that my cat sitter called him. I found this very odd; why didn’t she call me instead of him? I also assumed it must be an emergency, since she had said she would communicate via texting.

I took the phone, and next thing I know, this human I hired was castigating me for not answering messages I never received. Meanwhile, I was trying to pay for my groceries via square, and the seller had to ask me at least twice what my zip code was. I must have missed half of what The Cat-Sitter from Hell said, because I paused to give him my zip code before I continued listening to her arrogant and condescending lecture.

At first, when she was blowing up at me for not answering my phone or text messages, I assumed she meant there was a huge emergency and she’d been calling and texting in the twenty minutes since I left the house and began walking my brother’s dog toward the farmer’s market. During that time, my phone was in the bag at my side. I don’t constantly, 24/7, keep my phone in my hand with the volume full-blast. I made the mistake of saying, “I didn’t know you were trying to contact me. My phone is in my bag.” I glanced down toward the purse I was carrying.

In response to that, the bully blew up at me, going on about how I’m her client (who would have guessed, since that’s not how you should treat people who are over-paying you) and should have read the guidelines and follow them and I shouldn’t be leaving my phone in a bag (as if I left it in my suitcase and ignored it since I arrived in Phoenix) and blaah blaah blaah. I went into shock and reverted to being the little girl whom my narcissistic and sociopathic relatives conditioned decades ago. It didn’t occur to me to tell her off right back.

When I said, “You said you would text me,” she continued her tirade, claiming that she’d been texting and calling and emailing. If someone texts me, I receive a notification. If I’d gotten any text notifications from her, I would have noticed. I double-checked my phone and confirmed it. “The last text message from you was on December 8.” She then started rattling off dates that she had allegedly texted me, but I definitely had no such messages, and I had no voice mail messages from her.

My brother then mentioned that he tried to call me yesterday and the call went straight to voice mail. Still in shock that someone I made the mistake of hiring was giving me a condescending lecture and lashing out at me, I quickly realized that I was having a phone problem, and I spelled this out to her. She was somewhat mollified but didn’t apologize. I repeatedly said I’d call Sprint and find out what was going on, and that it must be my phone service.

Throughout this phone call—outdoors in public, surrounded by people and attempting to purchase groceries—I was profoundly agitated. By the time I hung up, I was deeply shaken and wished to hide. I didn’t want to be around humans. I was in this state for the rest of the day, and the indignation and fury didn’t arrive until the evening. It takes a while for shock to wear off, something that toxic humans use to their advantage, because otherwise I’d be able to promptly tell them off.

It seems she was primarily trying to contact me because she didn’t find the huge plastic bin full of kibble, even though I put it in what I thought was an obvious spot.

My brother or sister-in-law suggested that I turn off my phone and turn it back on again, so I did that. Apparently by flying to a different time zone, I stopped receiving calls and text messages.

The cat-sitter eventually gave a gruff and brief half-assed apology in a text message that I did receive; that is, after I turned my phone off, waited a few seconds, and turned it back on, it was flooded with messages. Meanwhile, she should have apologized a lot more profusely than that…not that I’ll ever hire her again under any circumstances. Her arrogance and self-entitlement are extreme, like that of every narcissist and narcissistic sociopath I’ve known; ditto countless white males whether or not they have personality disorders.

It wouldn’t have occurred to me that my phone wasn’t working properly. I had been surprised she didn’t text more frequently, but I guessed it must be a good sign, that everything was going smoothly. I didn’t assume that she would text me every single day, so it didn’t seem suspicious. In short, I didn’t know that my phone wasn’t working, and my having a technological problem is no excuse to lash out at me. I had once or twice considered texting her to see how things were going, but I told myself that she had a very busy schedule and I didn’t want to come across as high-maintenance. I really, really dislike this person and can’t believe I hired her as my cat-sitter—but she had good reviews on Yelp and seemed highly qualified.

On the phone, I was too shocked and confused to point out that her behavior was inappropriate. Toxic people are very fortunate that they typically render me shocked and confused.

I didn’t dump a sociopath, move away from Portland, and practically become a recluse so that other arrogant bullies could give me condescending lectures and castigate me for things beyond my control.

People should treat you with respect if you pay them money…of course, they should do so whether or not you pay them. This should be a no-brainer. This situation further confirmed that humans who have little or no empathy think it’s okay to treat empaths, or at least empaths who are not white males, like crap. Good job making sure I remain jaded.

In hindsight, I should have asked more questions before scheduling with this cat-sitter. It wasn’t until the appointment one week before my trip that she said, “I don’t have time to stay this time of year. I have too many clients.” My outgoing cats need a lot of attention. When I returned, they’d gained a lot of weight and were desperate for attention, suggesting that they spent the month eating and sleeping.

It looks like it will be a long time before I leave town for more than two nights. I still don’t feel ready to make new, close friends; the very thought brings up horrible memories of that frenemy. When I get back into foreign travel–or just visit family in Phoenix: I need to either hire another professional sitter or have reached a stage at which I’m close enough to at least one or two local friends with whom I can exchange cat/dog sitting. But narcissists and narcissistic sociopaths are the humanoids who are drawn to me, and I absolutely want no more such monsters in my life.

Full Day in Ashland, Oregon

7 Jul

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Yesterday I drove three hours to Ashland, Oregon, located in Southern Oregon. It somehow didn’t occur to me that the temperature would change drastically, so during the hours that I explored downtown (and shopped) before checking into the hotel, I thought I was sweating profusely simply because I’m middle-aged and the sun was burning hot. However, although it was eighty-four degrees when I left Eugene, in downtown Ashland it was about a hundred degrees.

Ashland has a lovely downtown, with Victorian houses behind the parking garage, a downtown park—Lithia Park, specifically—that proved considerably larger than at first it appeared, and with a lovely pond and creek.

Across the street from the park entrance is a visitor’s center and a fountain from the 1920s where you can drink spring water…and it tastes disgusting, like a mixture of salt and liquid metal. Yuck.

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Main Street seems to have a bookstore on every block, or pretty close to every block. I made a point of not setting foot in a bookstore that I think specialized in children’s books. However, an hour or so later I couldn’t resist stepping into a spirituality bookstore. After all, I was sweating and figured it would be air-conditioned, which it was. I left with a bag of books and statues. I also wandered into a fabric store and got myself an owl pincushion and a set of iron-on embroidery designs.

I saw the intense tragedy Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles; it shook me up, and it was a relief to walk around downtown after the sun had set. Window shopping, I realized that this is a progressive and hippie-friendly town; I also noticed that restaurants are more likely to be open late than they are in Portland. Main Street is still lively and hopping with pedestrians, whether they just saw a play or are smoking pot and playing music. The antique store’s window display featured vintage Asian clothing, including a sparkly Indian tunic and a cotton Afghani nomad dress. There was also Japanese and Chinese cloisonné to ogle. A Tibetan-owned shop sold new items, such as figurines of fierce deities and Tibetan thangkas. These shops were so colorful and sparkly, I suspected I might visit them the next day, while they were open.