Saturday, April 11, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Dutch Gratitude

Something cool happened yesterday. Well, it could have been cool, but it ended up being really lame.

I went to the bike store, a place I don't normally go, in the morning, On a tree nearby, I saw a sign for a missing cat. Being a bleeding heart, I always read such things, hoping to one day be a hero. This one was a common black and white cat with a collar and a white ring around its tail.

Hmmm. That would be something you could actually spot, I thought. A cat with a white ring on its tail.

Later that day, D tore into me about not returning the glass recyclables that I "insist" on collecting instead of putting in the landfill, much to his chagrin. They were taking up too much room in the closet. OK, fine. I put them in the bakfiets along with baby M and head the opposite direction towards the supermarket.

In Holland when you recycle glass, you throw it in an underground bin, listening to each one shatter at the bottom. This was my first visit to this particular glass bin, and didn't I see the goddamn CAT foraging for food behind it.

Collar, white ringed tail, eating garbage, meowing at me, but not coming too close. This was my man.

I couldn't get close enough to read his tag, and I didn't want him to take off, so I did what any animal lover would do, and hauled ass back to the sign, a mile in the other direction.

I called the guy, breathlessly, and he said he'd go right over and hung up. Then I though, oh shit, what if there is more than one container and he goes to the wrong one? What if he comes so close to finding him, and then is at the wrong side of the parking lot?

So, I peddaled back to the supermarket, and sure enough, there was a guy wandering around by the wrong glass container. I waved him over, and he said "are you the one who called me?" I said "Yes, I'll help you look."

As soon as the guy got over to where I was, the cat materialized from between two cars, and meowed his way over to him. "Blacky!"

He scooped him up and said "Wow, he's gotten thin."

Me: "How long has he been missing?"

Him: "More than two weeks. OK, thanks." And he walks off.

I went home, just tickled pink with myself. I thought about the kids who would be so happy to see him - because, let's face it, you don't name a cat "Blacky" unless you're under age 10.

I thought, "they'll call me any minute to thank me. As soon as he gets home with the cat, his wife will call me to thank me." I thought, I definitely won't take the "reward" advertised on the sign. I was just SO HAPPY I found him. What are the chances I would be in two places I never go on ONE day, and find a cat that's been missing for weeks? Wikkid cool.

I figured as soon as they were done hugging and greeting their little lost cat, someone would say "Hey, let's call that lady and say thank you."

As depressed as I have been lately, it really lifted my spirits to think about. What a nice Easter surprise for the kids.

Here's the thing though: They never called to thank me. Not even a text message with a big "DANK JE WEL!" I don't expect a reward, but WTF? Do you know how much it would have meant to me to be thanked for going out of my way like that?

Am I an egotist? Do I seek praise where praise is not due? Should I be satisfied with a cursory "bedankt"? Would I treat the return of one of OUR beloved pets the same way? No fucking way.

See, this is what you get for having American expectations in a Dutch neighborhood. No wonder people mind their own business. Why bother helping anyone?

Are my expectations way out of line here?

1 comment:

Alke said...

I certainly would have shown a lot more gratitude.

I'm sure they really are thrilled to have their pet back, so even though they didn't show it (some people seem to feel uncomfortable showing gratitude), know that you did good and made someone/a family happy.

(Dutchy here, by the way!)