It was 5:16 a.m. when my doorbell rang. I pulled on a pair of dirty pants and ran down to the front door. I was greeted by a short, somewhat bald and fat man with white hair and beard. He was wearing a red sweatshirt and green denim vest. He was also holding the cat.
“Is this your cat?” He asked. I nodded agreement. “Well, I have a problem with him. He's stealing my Wi-Fi.”
I looked at the cat. “So what was he doing? Downloading kitty porn?”
The man scowled. “Look, I'm serious. Your cat is stealing my Wi-Fi. Every time I see him come in my back yard my connection slows dramatically.” The sweatshirt and vest combo made him look like some kind of post apocalyptic Santa figure.
“Dramatically?” I reached over and took the cat from him.
“The connection times out--or it just gets real slow. I have a webcam set up for my back yard, and every time he comes in the yard, the connection slows down. The pictures starts to stutter.” He gave me a vacant gaze, as if an awareness came over him. “Do you have any idea why it's happening?”
This guy has shown up before 6 in the morning on my doorstep and he's asking me why his computer doesn't work. I don't know why, but everywhere I go people are asking me to fix their computers. It's like the magnets in the hard drive have somehow caused a polarization in my cells that any random computer slacker can sense. So I decided to take the easy way out. “Could be the RFID chip.”
“RFID chip?” The man became a bit agitated. “What's that?”
“It's a chip put inside the cat for identification. If cat gets lost, the authorities can scan it and get info on who the cat is.”
“Your cat had a CAT scan? What did you do, sedate him?” His eyes glinted with excitement of subjecting a cat to a giant magnet.
“No, it's usually just to help people find their lost cats.”
He thought for a moment. “Why would anyone want to find a lost cat?” I always wondered that myself. It's usually best if the cat didn't come back, as it tends to save on legal expenses.
“Well, in his case, it was the FBI.” I dropped the cat to the floor, and he darted off to find some new and incredibly inconvenient place in which to hork up a hairball. “They put it in.”
“The FBI?” He pondered that concept for a moment. “You mean, like some kind of witness protection program?”
“Well, something like that. He was actually trained to sniff out stuff. His specialty was electronic equipment, especially computers.”
“He would sniff out computers? Why have a cat do that?”
“He was used in the holds of ocean-going ships. His small size would allow him to go into the small spaces below decks. He was actually pretty good from what I understand. He was responsible for the great RAM bust on the coast a few years ago--you know, the one involving that cult that was planning on putting USB ports in all its members.”
“So where did you get him?”
“We got him at an animal rescue shelter. The FBI showed up a few weeks later explaining that they needed his testimony for another case involving the Persian mob. They took him away for a few days and then returned him with a new set of identity papers and the RFID chip. I asked the FBI if I could get a badge, but they told me that he was retired,.”
“Oh. So that's why my Wi-Fi is messed up?”
“Yeah. He messes up my connection, too. In fact, every time I want to use the laptop in bed, I have to put the cat out.”
“Wow, that sounds like a bummer. Why did they retire him?”
“Apparently, it's a hard for trained cats. With dogs, it's easy—they can be trained to just sit down and stare when they find contraband. But these cats—they would have to run through these big ships, and mark everywhere they found contraband. That's what made it hard.”
“They would mark each area by barfing.”