If you thought cats were weird, wait until you hear about humans who have cats in the workplace.
In the popular IATA subreddit, where people share personal stories and ask other users, “Am I the asshole?” It’s common to find bizarre scenarios in which people behave in such a way that they scratch their heads. But a recent IATA survey won the award for the most hilarious, bizarre and utterly entertaining saga of weirdness at work ever.
The initial story shared by Reddit user u / throwawayorangecat is quite funny, but the following is even better.
Redditor u / throwawayorange cat, who works in an undisclosed profession of providing “service to clients at very sad / stressful times in their lives” wrote:
“We have two cats at the workplace in an area of our construction sites. They add value to the job site, we all love cats and the cat’s presence on the job site is not a problem. One of the cats (Jean) is a tortoiseshell cat we’ve had since The other cat (Jorts) is a big orange cat and a recent addition.
Jorts is just… kind of a simple guy. For example, Jorts cannot open a door even when it is ajar – he pushes it whether he comes in or out, so often he closes the door he is trying to pass through. This means he is often trapped inside where he was trying to get out and meows until he is rescued.
My colleague Pam (not her real name) has spent a lot of time trying to teach Jorts things. The door problem is the prime example – it’s a real problem because the cats are being fed in a closet and Jorts keeps pushing the door shut. Jean can actually open all of the other interior doors since it’s a lever type button, but she can’t open that door especially if it’s stuck INSIDE the closet.
Tortie Jean is very nice to poor Orange Jort, and she’s busy letting him out of the rooms he’s locked himself in, so that seems easy to fix. I put a door stopper.
Pam then said that I was depriving Jorts of “the chance to learn” and continued to remove the doorstop. She set up a series of special learning activities for Jorts and tried to put these tasks on the team’s daily tasks whiteboard (I deleted them). She thinks we need to teach him how to clean himself better and how to get out of minor barriers like when he gets a cup stuck on his head etc. I love Jorts but he’s just stupid and we can’t change that.
Don’t get me wrong, watching her try to teach Jorts how to go through a door is hilarious, but Jean has locked herself in the closet twice last week. Yesterday I put a cat cutout in the door and Pam started to get really angry. I made a sweet joke about “you can’t expect Jean’s tortoiseshell intelligence from orange cat Jorts” which made Pam FURIOUSE. She started crying and left the hallway, then emailed the group (including the volunteers) and got home early.
In her email, Pam said that I was “perpetuating ethnic stereotypes by saying orange cats are dumb” and asking for racial sensitivity training before she returns. I don’t think that’s relevant, but just in case, Pam is a white person on majority minority staff (and no, she’s not redhead / doesn’t have red hair).
TL; DR: IATA for “upholding an ethnic stereotype” joking that orange cats are often stupid? “
Replies to the original post were decidedly in the “No you’re not a hole” camp, with comments ranging from “Uh, you can’t be racist against an animal” to “Why is Pam spending money?” Does she work so much of her time trying to train a cat? ”Others shared their own experiences with dumb orange male cats.
Then came the update – oh, the glorious update – that took it all to a whole new level of butter.
“Thank you for answering my question which had really upset me. I am working to have a good relationship with my team and the situation has become so strange that I lost perspective.
I just met HR, she had already met Pam. HR was concerned that Pam was comparing ethnic stereotypes with giving a cat a bumper and they addressed what had gone well. HR will follow up to make sure Pam understands. (The answers to my question were helpful for this discussion.)
HR has also responded to Pam by assigning other staff members to tutor related to Jorts as it is not appropriate for Pam to assign work to others. It also went well.
We both think Pam struggled with the transition from volunteer to staff, and may have a projected “new” sensitivity to Jorts. Pam became moved by her perception that I prefer Jean to Jorts and gave specific examples. Some of these things are right. Jorts deserves respect as a member of our team.
There are 3 buildings in our workplace. Jean and Jorts are limited to one. HR told me there were 5 reservations about vaccines, and preventing unvaccinated people from entering the building (to protect Jean and Jorts) was enough to win 4 of them. It’s CRAZY, but great.
Most importantly: the presence of the cats greatly improves our work with our clients, and the friendly nature of Jorts has been so great. Both cats really do an important job. Truly Jorts deserves to be treated with respect.
We all deserve to be treated with dignity at work, so I will apologize to Jorts for some callous or disrespectful things.
a. Jean has a cute cat bed with her name on it, while Jorts picked out an old boot tray in my office with a towel in it. Recently a visitor put wet boots in the boot tray and Pam saw Jorts sleeping on the wet boots. I bought a bed for Jorts today and a badge has been ordered.
b. I will apologize to Jorts and remove the sign that says “JORTS SINCE JORTS HAD GARBAGE: 0” Jorts likes to fish dirty paper cups and he often falls in the trash or gets a cup stuck on his head etc. (He is able to get out of the trash by knocking it over, so it’s not a safety issue.)
vs. Jean’s “staff bio” has a photo of Jean, while Jorts’ bio has a photo of a sweet potato. I wasn’t sure either of the cats had a staff bio, but we’ll be using a photo of Jorts instead of a sweet potato.
HR also suggested changing Pam’s duties to be “responsible” for the chats. I refused, the cats are my staff, not Pam’s. I think Pam was well intentioned but actually did not meet Jean or Jorts’ needs, so they remain under my supervision. (Pam also shouldn’t put cups on Jorts’ head or intentionally put him in frustrating situations given his unique needs.)
Finally, and it made us both laugh so hard we can’t deal with it in person and it will be said by email: Pam admits she put margarine on Jorts in an attempt to teach him to groom better. This may explain the diarrhea problem that John developed (which necessitated a visit to the vet).
Pam should NOT apply margarine to any of her co-workers. Jean has shown that she is ready to help Jorts stay clean. If this task becomes onerous for John, we can have the help of a groomer. I cry with laughter as I type this.
added: I’m so glad it brought joy. Fan mail can be directed to jortsandjean @ gmail dot com.
or follow the Jorts et Jean joke account on twitter @JortsTheCat “
She buttered the cat. Oh, Pam.
The story of Jean and Jorts started a wave of responses from the hilarious creatives of the internet, from memes to poetry.
People even started to go literary with Jorts’ jokes, starting from a parody of a poem by William Carlos Williams:
For a “Pride and Prejudice” comparison:
To a well known quote from “Lord of the Rings”:
Who knew that cats in the workplace could provide such continuous entertainment to countless humans weary of the pandemic? Thank you, “Pam” for being such an eccentric colleague and for giving us all a reason to cheer on Jorts, the stupid orange cat.
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