Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Dustman and the Cat's Scratching Post

A wee story, written on a train after seeing a scratching post out by the bins yet again.  I'm sure there is an analogy in there somewhere...

A cats scratching post sat in the road and stared at the dustman.  It was a proud scratching post.  It had sat proudly in a pet-shop window for barely a month before it had been adopted and made to serve the scratching needs of a somewhat cantankerous moggy over a period of five months.

To be honest, this was not its finest hour: A battle of wills between itself, and the Dustman.

For three consecutive weeks, the scratching post had gone out onto the road, and sat next to the bins awaiting collection.  And for three consecutive weeks, the Dustman has stuck to his guns and refused to take it.  The scratching post was beginning to take this personally. Why would the Dustman not take it?  Did the Dustman find it in some way objectionable?  This was simply not fair.  All the other rubbish got taken to the tip and incinerated - why was the scratching post being left out?

After three failed attempts, along came another Thursday morning - and here was the scratching post again.  Round four.

‘You shall take me into your lorry’. Said the scratching post, with an air of determination which is not often seen in a scratching post.

‘I won’t’. Said the Dustman.

‘And why not, may I ask?’ said the scratching post (which was occasionally prone to bouts of superciliousness).

‘You are not rubbish’.  Said the Dustman.

This posed something of a logical conundrum for the scratching post.  After all, as a proud scratching post it was inclined to agree the premise that it was ‘not rubbish’.  But this would defeat its own argument.

‘Define rubbish' said the scratching post.

The Dustman thought for a moment.

'General household waste, which can serve no useful purpose to the people of the household and has no function any more'.

'Waste', declared the scratching post, triumphantly 'is an excess.  It is what remains after the usefulness of a thing has expired.  An orange skin is useful to protect an orange.  When the orange is eaten, the skin is surplus to requirements - and therefore waste.  I am in exactly the same position.'

'In what way' said the Dustman, thoughtfully, 'are you exactly the same as an orange?  A scratching post is not a piece of fruit.'

'My purpose in life was dependent on the needs of the cat for which I was provided. Those are now gone, due to the purchase of a clawing machine from Pets R Us, and I am therefore as much a surplus to requirement as an orange skin from an eaten orange'.

'Fine'. Sighed the Dustman, as he picked up the scratching post and threw it into the back of his lorry.

It was only later, as the flames licked round and consumed it, that the scratching post wondered whether there really was no more to its existence than just five months of scratching. Whether there could not have been more.

The Dustman himself continued on his rounds, occasionally shaking his head at a world where good things treated as rubbish can be so easily persuaded.