“The policy is clear on Raecoons.” My supervisor’s voice is firm.
“But he’s just a baby.” I hold my phone to the shivering three-week-old mammal clinging to the concrete with his sharp little paws. “Can you hear him wailing?”
Cheeeeeeeeerpppp, Cheeerp, Cheeerp.
“Inder, they carry the Rabies virus.”
“Rabies? He’s just calling out to his mommy? She’s got to be around here somewhere. She’ll be back looking for him tonight. Surely.”
“How come you’re so darn sure about everything?”
“—because I know animals.”
“–that’s what you said about the Diesel engines too, Mr. Engineer.” His voice has a hint of irritation in it.
I lower my voice. “Those wails are for his mommy. Trust me on this one.”
“Okay, so what are you proposing?”
I lay my hand flat. “Let me call the home-owner and ask him to let the Raccoon stay in his yard for 2 more nights. If his mommy doesn’t get him, I’ll pick him up.”
“Okay. Just make sure the home-owner feels satisfied with it. Remember that we work for the city government and the citizens are our–”
“—customers. Yes I will. Thank you.” I flip my city-phone shut.
How can I forget the most important lesson I’ve learnt working for the government in the US. You guys treat your citizens as your customers whereas in my country government workers treat the citizens like vermin.
Fifteen minutes later I return to the yard. The home-owner is kind enough to let the raccoon baby live and give the mother a chance to take her baby and nurse it. He tells me that there were three babies and the mother took one away last night.
Now my task is to find the second baby raccoon. I crawl on the ground with the grass tickling my ear inches from the ground. I strain to hear it. Finally I hear a weak squeal from behind a board. A weak, feeble baby ‘coon is trembling like a reed, calling out.
I reunite the brother and the sister and they stop squealing right away, indulging in a wrestling match. Their squeals get louder as I walk back to my truck. But these are excited squeals of play.
Today three adults saw combined passion in their hearts to allow 2 babies to live and my faith in my journey from an engineer to an animal control officer is restored.
Just a little.