Copping it sweet, mostly

Sometimes it takes a seemingly innocuous even to trigger the realisation that we’re all creatures of habit. And worse, sometimes to deviate from a routine can have detrimental consequences.

Our routine, on returning from a trip, is simple. First, open the windows to allow airflow through the closed apartment. Next, unpack the bags, sorting laundry into colour groups and bung a load into that spinning machine in the bathroom. Once that’s done, a stroll down to the supermarket to restock the fridge and larder, grab a real coffee and canoli at the patisserie around the corner and boot up the computer to check the local news and pay bills that have appeared.

When all the settling-in tasks have been completed, and home is back into its own rhythm, the final step to ‘normality’ is to reclaim the cat.

We could, if so inclined, deposit the lord and master in his vet’s just 400 metres down the road. They know him well, have largely got him bluffed, and it would save what can be an hour’s drive each way across town in peak traffic.

Instead, we choose to leave Macchiato with our mate Grant at Cat Boarding Collingwood. Grant’s team takes fabulous care of the macchi-monster, and instead of the small cages used to house boarding cats at our vet, Grant’s five star operation uses 3-level cat-condminiums that give the inhabitants plenty of room to roam and play. And Macchiato always seems to come home from his resort vacation weighing a few more grams than when dropped-off.

So it was, we arrived at the cattery at about 3pm. A chat and a quick beer with Grant while Machhiato got over his repulsion at us for disturbing his afternoon nap and half an hour later we’ve loaded his bed and ‘special friends’ (don’t ask) into the car and heading back home. Without his travelling caravan, Macchiato is strapped into his harness and happy to make the journey home sitting on Michelle’s knee in the passenger seat.

Here comes the ‘routine’ bit; we always drive to Collingwood along one route via Kooyong, Hawthorn and Richmond and for no reason known to man I drive home along a different route via Burnley, Toorak and Armadale. Call me weird.

This time however, there’s road works on Burnley Street and the trip takes longer than normal. Macchiato knows he’s going home, so he’s pulling on his harness in excitement, and shedding snow-white hair in a tickling cloud. Finally we break free of the Burnley Street snarl, cross the Yarra and head down Williams Road, turning left on High Street in Prahran.

Whether driving or walking home in this area my routine is to turn right off High Street towards home at a certain connecting road that will take me directly to my street. This time, again for no known reason, I don’t turn right at my ‘routine’ street but aim for another right turn just 30 metres further on. With right indicator on, and the turning manouevre half-completed I notice a “No Right Turn” sign high on a pole. This sign is accompanied by another that read “4.30 – 6.30pm”. As I’m saying to Michelle “I’ve never noticed that sign before” I complete the turn into a street lined with uniformed police officers and three other cars parked at the kerb.

It’s 4.36pm and the boys in blue are contributing to the Ted Baillieu bail-out fund via the good graces of the motorists of Stonnington.

I’m suitably admonished by a pleasant young chap in a blue shirt and baseball cap who requests my licence for the purposes of recording the particulars of the perpetrator of this most heinous crime. Michelle and the cat are sitting quietly while I wait fuming for the young chap to return from his cop car with my licence and accompanying fine.

Soon enough, the young cop returns and hands back my licence. As he is explaining the legalities of the situation, and the resultant penalty ($135 fine) he hands me the fine slip. That event triggered such a vocal spray of venom from the cat, the startled young cop instinctively took a step back before recovering and strolling back to his post with a broad smile growing on his face.

Macchiato is not normally your ‘vocal’ kind of cat. I guess he just takes umbrage at his staff getting shafted by the law.

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