David and Goliath


Chapter 17 (Holy Bible, ISBN for example 9780060649234)

A few days after Scott started housesitting at a penthouse apartment on Exhibition Street, a mob of us went around to visit him. An ancient tomcat lived in the laundry room. I remember it as Old Pukey. According to Scott, if anything startled it, it could vomit, and anything might startle it.

Old Pukey’s fur had started to fall out in patches. When it tried to purr, it made this awful gulping noise that sounded like it trying to clear its throat and not quite managing it.

Some concern about the lacquer stopped us from using the dining table, so we played Trivial Pursuit on the floor in the parlour. Halfway through the game Old Pukey wandered out of its laundry room into the parlour. It didn’t see any of the people in the room. It didn’t know where it had come to. It felt like watching a baffled old man wandering around the parking lot outside his nursing home in his pajama bottoms. I think Old Pukey must’ve wandered out of its laundry room by mistake and now couldn’t work out how to get back.

Old Pukey walked by moving one leg at a time. First it moved one of its front feet, then the other. Then the back legs had to catch up one at a time. Every few steps it stopped to make its gulping noise.

Step-by-step Old Pukey hobbled over to the Trivial Pursuit board and started kicking the pieces around. None of us dared to move, let alone to try to stop it. If anything startled it, it could vomit, and anything might startle it.

The lopsidedness of the situation astonished me: a geriatric cat held eight grown humans hostage. By pushing at our city-bred qualmishness, Old Pukey had overturned the natural order. I thought to myself, I could become like Old Pukey. Look at it: it can do anything it wants.

Scott made a body cage around the cat down on his hands and knees. Step-by-step he walked it back to its laundry room.


Although more picturesque, the tale of David and Goliath doesn’t tell you how to go about it. Instead, when a hostile company try to put something past me, I think of Old Pukey. If the company claims to believe their customers’ time has value, kicking it like Old Pukey I ask if they mean practical value. Right off, the person marks me as a lunatic (or at least a pathological cheapskate). If they admit the company just meant it in some doubletalk way, I might confront them in some way they’ll find unpleasant. Easier just to walk me back to my laundry room.

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