I sit down to write this fresh from an argument with my roommate. It’s maybe not the best circumstance in which to write an article, but we rarely find ourselves in the best circumstances for anything these days. Similarly, the argument was not unique; we disagree about something at least once a week and it usually resolves with us cooling off in separate rooms of the house. We normally exist in separate rooms anyway, usually only crossing paths at mealtime or intermittently during the evening. She has her schedule and I have mine. What I dislike most about our arguments is that I always end up looking like “the bad guy” and everything wrong in her world is my fault. She can be a little dramatic.
Maybe you have a relationship with someone like that in your life.
Still, she’s my sister’s first child and I agreed to take care of her. Even though she’s a picky eater and more temperamental than any other seven-year-old I’ve ever met, she’s family and that’s all that matters.
She’s also a cat.
Arya came to live with me about a year ago. I’ve learned a lot about perseverance in that time and, more recently, about privilege. This story is about both.
Since the pandemic began, everyone has become patently aware of the household goods in short supply. We may no longer be ransacking the nearest supermarket for toilet paper and bottled water, but it’s still nigh impossible to find some cleaning supplies. Of late, several other items have become rarities. Weirdly, in my part of the world, seasoning salt has disappeared from the shelves. The next casualty I noticed was slightly more disconcerting: canned cat food. Arya will only eat one particular brand in one particular flavor (I mentioned she is a picky eater) so, upon recently discovering that our cupboard would soon be bare, I donned my mask and ventured out on a quest to find cat food.
By the time I was stood in the pet food aisle of the fourth store, my face mask concealing my bewilderment as I stared, along with two other pet owners, at empty metal shelves, I realized I was probably on a fool’s errand. I must have seemed empathetic in that moment because, as I pondered my next move, an older woman in the same aisle turned to me and said, “My kitty is hungry.” I laughed reflexively, because I didn’t know what to say, and turned on my heels to leave. By the time I got to my car, I had added several cases of the cat food I needed to my online shopping cart and was tapping the button to have it shipped to me within two days.
When I later lamented my in-person shopping failure on social media, it was pointed out to me that there is an ongoing aluminum shortage in the United States. As dine-in restaurants and bars began to shut down and, with quarantine looming, consumers rushed to stock up on canned food and beverages, the supply of aluminum cans available to producers rapidly dwindled. The availability of recycling and bottle and can-return services has further complicated the matter. With fewer cans being reclaimed and returned to service, the shortage has been protracted and affected more and more products, including canned cat food.
It’s just one of the many cycles of supply and demand spinning wildly out of control during this “unprecedented time.”
You could concretely argue, as several have, that I’m creating an issue where none existed.
“Why don’t you just give the cat dry food?” one friend asked. “She’s just an animal; does the kind of food really matter? She’ll eat whatever if she’s hungry enough. Plus, it would be easier on you.”
In a practical sense, they’re correct. However, for as much as Arya wakes me up at odd hours, scratches on the living room sofa (despite her many scratching posts), destroyed the box spring mattress, demands to be pet while she eats, sits in the middle of the kitchen table and won’t sit still for her medication, it somehow feels important that I give her the type of food the veterinarian recommended. I made a commitment to keep her healthy and I’m lucky to have the means to do so. I’m no hero (far from it, I assure you), but the sentiment made me reflect on the people who are. All the people out there who are out in the world every day, “making it work,” so the rest of us can “feel slightly normal.”
Keeping a commitment in the face of adversity is hard and, while I’m not the first person to express that opinion, I think it’s important that we continue to celebrate those individuals who do. If you’re currently out there helping people, thank you. We need you and we don’t say it enough. If you’re a teacher, a frontline worker, a supermarket clerk or just delivering some canned cat food to my door, thank you. This goes double if you’re a volunteer. Donating your time and energy to help people, in whatever form that takes and on top of your other responsibilities, is heroic. So, this is my love letter to all the AAPG staff, volunteers and everyone actively working to support our science, engage with our membership, adapt and diversify our programs, transition our meetings to the virtual space and keep the Association going. What you do is truly admirable and I’m happy to renew my Association dues to support your efforts. I know there are some who may disagree with that, but that’s OK. I’m used to disagreements. I have one at least once a week.
Also, thank you to everyone to who reached out to me after my last column. Your comments and well wishes are greatly appreciated. I’m now well on the road to recovery and looking forward to hearing from you! The Division of Professional Affairs has several programs in development that we’re excited to share with you. For all the latest DPA news and updates, please follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook. Want to get in touch? Contact us at .