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The Shop Cat's One Way Trip


The Shop Cat Story

A few years back I had the itch to start a project in the garage. At the time, I was broke enough that I could not afford a classic car project, so I thought I would leap into building a dune buggy on the frame of an old Volkswagen bug. Just so happened that one day, as I was driving through San Clemente, I happened to see an old bug sitting on the side of the road with a lofty $700 price tag in the window. Without even batting an eyelash, I called the seller up, offered him 500 cold hard smackers, and became the proud owner of a total piece of shit, 1974 Volkswagen Bug.

At the time, my good friends had access to a shop off of Construction Circle in Irvine, so I was able to put the bug the in the shop and work on it over the weekends. My plan for the bug was to build a complete roll cage, swap out the suspension for coil over shocks, and change the VW motor out for a Mazda rotary engine (Yes, it can be done!). So there I was, posted up in Irvine nearly every weekend, pulling parts off, putting new parts on, and amassing a large bucket of hardware ( you know…nuts, bolts, and things like that).

Quick side note here about this shop that I was allowed to use; the shop was on a rather big portion of land that was owned by a landscaping company. The shop itself was the owner’s shop, but there was another shop next door, that housed the lawnmowers, edgers, weed eaters, and all other tools used by their crews. There was also a worker who lived in this building and would feed the local stray cats that would hang out in the yard. These “shop cats” (as well called them) were an important necessity for the area since they would chase rodents, and come hang out from time to time. There was one smaller gray cat in particular who would stop by the other shop while we were working, who quickly became known as the “Shop Cat”.

The shop cat would come around whenever we were in the shop in hopes to get a piece of an Arby’s big Montana, a little piece of fish from the shop owners fishing trips, or even the occasional pet from one of the guys in the shop. If the garage doors to the shop were open, you were almost guaranteed to see shop cat pass through the doors for a quick “Hello” or just to hang out while we would wrench on our toys.

Well… This particular day at the shop, I decided I was going to clean all of the hardware I had collected over the past year, so I gather all of my greasy nuts, bolts, and screws, placed them in bow, and covered the assortment of hardware with a little gasoline. (In case you didn’t know, a little gas will clean up greasy nuts and bolts in jiff…). As the hardware sat and rested in the gasoline, I continued to sit and wrench on my bug.

About a half hour later, as I was connecting the new roll cage to the bottom of the bug, I saw the shop cat wonder his way in through the garage door. Almost immediately, he jumped up onto the work bench where my nuts and bolts were degreasing in gas. After a couple minutes of sitting on the work bench and slyly waving his tail back and forth, the shop cat wondered over to the bowl full of hardware, gave it a little sniff, then start slowly licking up the gasoline sitting in the bowl. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and just so happened my friend AJ was there as well. So I quietly said, “AJ. Look at the shop cat!” What happened next was about the craziest thing I had ever seen…

AJ and I sat and watched the shop cat slurp up the entire bowl of gasoline. Once the gas was completely gone, the shop cat stopped and looked at us as his eyes shot wide open. Almost instantly he started running around the shop! He jumped off of the work bench, ran across the floor to one side of the shop, then zipped across the floor to the other side of the shop back to the work bench! The shop cat then ran straight up the side of the wall, paused at the top and look at us with his eyes wide open and was as still as statue. After about 30 seconds, the shop cat, who was once plastered to the wall in a near frozen position, dropped suddenly, and collapsed on the floor, where he just laid there…

At this point my buddy AJ leaned over and asked the only question you can ask in this situation, “Is he dead?” to which I responded, “No, he just ran out of gas.”