I flew to New York City on July 6, 2004 with a Coach briefcase full of anxiety.
I didn’t want to work in human resources. I never wanted to work for Pfizer. But I was twenty-nine years old with no purpose in life. I was just sitting around, killing time and waiting for the world to unfold.
This is a common theme in my life.
We had just relocated to a college town in western Michigan. I had no local friends. I didn’t have any hobbies. I thought I might die of boredom and loneliness if I didn’t find something meaningful to do.
I also liked nice things.
So I hauled my ass to New York City on a hot and stormy afternoon to confirm my employment and begin my orientation as a regional HR lady at the world’s largest pharmaceutical company. I put on a frumpy black suit and pretended to care about talent acquisition, culture and engagement. I remember smiling a lot, but people mistook my Midwestern kindness for naïveté. I was asked a lot of questions about New York as if I had never been to the city and smelled hot garbage on a summer afternoon.
“You like it here? Have you tried the pizza? You see Times Square, yet? Some traffic, am I right?”
It was fine, I suppose, in a depressing way. I had only lived in Michigan for a few months, but it was abundantly clear that it looked like I had just fallen off the pumpkin truck to my colleagues.
I just smiled and nodded to get it over faster.
“The pizza is great! Yes, I saw the Empire State Building!”
As I was packing up and leaving for the airport at the end of the trip, my boss went on a rant. He warned me that I better not cross him.
“If you fuck me or keep secrets from me, I will rip your head off and shit down your throat.”
Wow, yeah, so there was that.
I took a car service back to LaGuardia on July 7th, but the airport was locked down on one of its infamous ground stops. I was advised to get a hotel room immediately or risk sleeping on the jizzy airport floor all night long.
(I picked a local Marriott.)
The next morning, July 8th, I made my way home from NYC and cried. As far as jobs go, there are worse things than working for a cushy-ass corporate titan; however, you know it’s going to be bad when even the HR dudes are jerks.
“Do I really need this job?”
I did. I wanted new landscaping. I wanted to pay down my student debt. I wanted to go back to Maui. I wanted a better car. I wanted to buy my husband nice gifts.
I took a long, hot shower when I finally got back to Michigan. I stepped out of my shower and heard some commotion outside. Sophie — my neighbor’s frankenweinee of a dog — was half-pitbull and half-chihuahua. She was in my yard and wouldn’t shut up. I went outside to yell at her, and that’s when I saw Molly.
Little Molly, scabbed-up face and broken teeth.
Little Molly, Brillo pad fur and judgy eyes.
Little Molly, whiny as hell and meowing for food.
I scooped her up like a momma bear. I fed her Fancy Feast. We drove to the vet.
“What’s wrong with her face?” I asked.
“Road rash. Fight with a possum. Who the hell knows?” the vet tech told me.
The diagnosis wasn’t good for this punchkin. Molly had herpes in her eyes, coccidia and roundworm.
“The coccidia is highly contagious,” the vet tech warned me. “Keep her quarantined from your other cats.”
“Oh,” I asked, “You can’t keep her?”
The vet tech looked at me like I had two heads. She suggested a local animal rescue that might be able to help.
And she was right. The local animal rescue was staffed with Pfizer employees who volunteered their time. And everyone was so helpful. They made it easy to keep Molly.
So because of Molly, several things happened.
- I learned a lot about cats.
- My husband started to like cats.
- I began volunteering at an animal rescue.
- Pfizer donated tens of thousands of dollars to that animal rescue through my volunteer efforts.
- I figured out why I was working: to facilitate a better life for animals.
One more thing. Molly hated me from the start. She fell in love with my husband. His kitty wife — That little bitch! That traitor! That adorable little punchkin! — crawled into our bed every night and gave me the cold shoulder for four years.
But the good news is that Molly and I rebooted our lives over together in 2008 when our family moved down to North Carolina for my husband’s job. We didn’t know anyone. We didn’t have much to do besides hang out with one another and write. And we became pretty good friends.
I love this petite cat because she doesn’t love easily, but she does love hard. I love that human resources brought us together. But I really love that she loves me a little bit more each day.
Happy Gotcha Day, Molly! Ten years just flew by.