The visit with the vet was fairly routine, but what we saw in the waiting room . . .
When I arrived, there was an elderly woman with a rolling walker (my MIL has one—we call it her Rollerator), and in the basket hanging beneath it she had a brown paper grocery bag with . . . her dead cat in it. The bag wasn't quite big enough, so the cat—on its back at a 45 degree angle, totally stiff, legs straight up in the air—was sticking out. Seems the woman lives in a nursing home and there is no yard in which to bury the cat, so she was bringing it to the vet to have it cremated.
The woman was at the counter being helped, so I turned to the other woman sitting in the waiting room and whispered "Is it . . . ?" and she mouthed back "DEAD," which was of course totally obvious. The woman with the dead cat sat back down, and the three of us sat there smiling at each other. Feeling that polite conversation was appropriate, I asked gently, "Was she old?" The minutes these words were out of my mouth, I realized this was a totally stupid thing to say because the woman herself was old and my question seemed to imply that if you were old then it might be reasonable that you were dead. Fuck. For the next few minutes I sat there in silence because I was worried that should I open my mouth I would burst into either tears or laughter.
But when the woman behind the front desk announced "That will be $175, Mrs. OldLadyWithDeadCat" I did ask her "Is that just for the cremation??" thinking there had perhaps been some medical costs preceding the death of the cat. No, that was the cost of just the cremation. It was all I could do not to offer her burial of the cat in our yard for $100. But then I remembered the clay composition of our soil and Husband jackhammering our yard in the rain to dig a whole deep enough to properly bury his beloved Zeus. Besides, she probably wanted the little urn of ashes.