Calculating the Objective Standard of a Bad Day

May 7, 2009

I think it’s a fair assessment to say there is no flat standard as to what constitutes a “bad” day.  A lot of people make hyperbolic statements concerning their days.  There’s too much subjectivity when it comes to determining this.

“I forgot my coffee in the car, I was late to a meeting, and traffic was terrible coming home after work.  What a bad day!”

Sound familiar?  I think there should be one consistent standard to determine a bad day.  And I have the story.

During my senior year at Penn State I lived in a townhouse with 5 other dudes.  It was two levels: a basement and a ground floor.  My friends, Justin and Howard, lived in one of the rooms downstairs, complete with a furnace closet and one basement window.  One Sunday, around the middle of October, when the chlorophyll abandons the autumnal leaves like a dead-beat dad on the Montel Williams Show, Justin and Howard heard a faint squeaking outside of their window which continued every night for over a week.  Of course, they took the same approach to this annoyance as I usually would: bitch about it to no one in particular until someone takes it upon themselves to solve the problem.

Unfortunately, I was the first one to investigate.  I took a good look outside and searched around I saw three little balls of fur curled up emitting a faint meowing.  Cats.  Kittens to be exact.  They appeared to be abandoned by their mother and were in pretty lousy shape.   It was purely a set of unfortunate circumstances.  The pregnant (likely stray) mama cat probably went into labor while it was chasing a mouse at the bottom of the window well.  The walls of the well were 4-5 feet at least, making retrieval of the cubs tricky if not impossible for a cat.  So we had to do what the Mama Cat could not.

We were not cats though.  We were humans.  My friends Nate, Dave, and Jon (all who lived in the townhouse) helped with the rescue effort.  Dave went into the well, gardening gloves first, to lift the kittens out on at a time.  Jon placed each one on a different Frisbee (for organizational purposes I suppose).  I was the subject matter expert, having been the owner of a cat myself, and Nate supervised.

The first kitten we pulled out had all black fur.  Key word there “had.”  This cat looked pretty dead to us.  This wasn’t a snap judgment either.  We poked it.  It didn’t move.  We poked it again; still nothing.  We tried to feel for a pulse, but none of use knew where a cat’s pulse points were.  So I was given the unenviable task of putting this kitten in a garbage bag and taking it to its proper resting place: the dumpster behind our house.  I walked to the giant metal coffin on the verge of blubbering like a Tween who just found out their parents deleted their MySpace account.

Apartments of girls cleared out when they heard what was happening.  “Bonus!” we all thought.  “We’ll show that we’re sensitive.”  The other two cats were alive, the ones on the green Frisbee and the small blue Frisbee, but barely.  Nate and one of our concerned girl neighbors, Mallory, somehow found an on-call veterinarian and took the feline patients there in a hurry.

The vet said that the cats were in shock and extremely hungry.  She gave them an IV and told Nate to make sure they stayed very warm throughout the night.  She even gave him a microwavable pad to rest them on.  “Put it [the pad not the cat] in the microwave for a 2 minutes; it will stay warm through the night so you can put one of the cats on it.”

Nate brought the patients back into our townhouse, looking exhausted but optimistic.

“Where the hell have you guys been all day?” asked Howard, one of the original noise complainers who was conspicuously missing during the rescue.  Someone probably should have punched him in the arm, but everyone was too tired.

We followed the doctor’s instructions.  Wrapped one in a blanket on the couch and the other we placed onto the newly heated microwave pad with a blanket.  I went to my room; I had homework to do.

I emerged about an hour later to check up on the felines.  Nate and Jon were sitting on the couch.

“How are they doing?” I asked.

“They seem fine.  They haven’t moved in a while.  I guess ‘cause they’re sleeping,” Nate replied.

“Uh…you sure about that?”

Upon further inspection, we discovered that the cat on the couch was now dead.  We phoned the vet again (at this point it was like 10:30 PM) to tell her.

“Sometimes after extreme conditions like what those cats had been through, the shock of an IV drip can just overload the system.  I guess I messed up.” she explained.  We all realized that the good doctor had this cat’s death on her hands for slight incompetence.

Well, we were about to catch up with her in terms of kitten body count.  The cat in the corner also looked pretty still.  I went over to check.

Yep.  Dead too.  I reached down and felt the microwavable pad that we had laid it on.  It was still warm.  Actually, it was pretty damn warm.  I’d be uncomfortable if I was a cat and had to lie on that thing; I’d be sweating my hairballs off!   We think, in retrospect, that the microwave pad may have been a little too warm for a cat recovering from a near death experience.    Well at least it was even.  The vet inadvertently killed a cat trying to rescue it, and we did the same.

I looked around the room.  One dead kitten was in the dumpster behind our townhouse, another dead kitten was wrapped up in blanket on the corner of the couch, and yet another dead kitten was lying on the microwave pad by the door.

I thought to myself.  “This is it.  This is an objectively bad day.”

So, how can you tell if you have had a bad day?

If you have more than one dead kitten in your living room.

If you don’t have more than one dead kitten in your living room, stop complaining!


OK!  OK! I’ll bet you’re thinking that that was a pretty depressing story.  Well if it makes you feel any better, our gross negligence may have saved countless human babies from attacks such as this:

Then again…maybe those babies had it coming:

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