Zoom Cat

Andy Spears
6 min readJan 16, 2022

A cat and a plan

Photo by Louis Droege on Unsplash

A yellow cat walks across the desk, coming into full view of the screen. Christy strokes it from head to tail. There are issues of The Atlantic in view once the cat jumps from the desk. Christy’s soft voice tells everyone in the Zoom meeting that Melvin was happy to meet them, but he’s usually pretty shy. She is near 60, with dark hair reaching just below her shoulders. Her blue eyes are framed by dark glasses. She’s been holding meetings like these for the past ten years. Before now, they were just conference calls, or sometimes in-person meetings held at coffee shops. Christy knows the policy issue the group is discussing inside and out. She assures her acolytes that this arcane change will benefit many thousands of the state’s residents. Somehow, it has been five years since the “coalition” started working on this issue, and still, no progress. This time, though, would be different. Christy was sure of it because of a very positive one-on-one she’d had with a key member of the legislative subcommittee.

Thomas can’t and won’t stop talking even as a yellow cat comes into full view on his computer screen. He’d been listening intently as Christy explained the coalition’s strategic approach. Now, she was stroking the cat and saying his name and Thomas was pretty sure he saw a fairly recent issue of The Atlantic as the cat jumped from Christy’s desk. Thomas is in his late 70s, bald, his face often red with anger. He’s a facts guy. Sure, Christy knew how the policy process worked, but Thomas knew every single fact about seemingly everything the group discussed. Christy asks Thomas to repeat what he was saying after Melvin is out of view. Thomas simply says that legislators just need more facts. Especially the facts Thomas has. Especially if those facts are delivered as emphatically as Thomas is shouting them.

Miranda smiles broadly as a yellow cat walks across the desk on her screen. She laughs as Christy strokes the cat and introduces him as Melvin. She’s pleased to notice a familiar issue of The Atlantic. The magazine is one of the few indulgences she allows herself on a grad school budget. Miranda is the youngest member of the group, and her dark eyes burn with the intensity of her intelligence. She’ll be published in The Atlantic one day, a public intellectual, as they call them. For now, she’s working with one of the oldest advocacy…

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .