What I learned from letting the cat out of the bag….er, the studio
This gets good.
When I worked at 10/11 News, it’s no secret that I was consistently pretty tired. As a reporter on the morning show, I worked 3 a.m. to noon. But — for almost seven months, I was the weekend morning anchor, working at 1:30 a.m. in the morning until 10 or 11 a.m. It was a tough gig. I produced, anchored and sometimes if shit hit the fan, reported on breaking news right after the show. I loved every second of it.
It was a great experience because at the end of the day, it taught me how to be accurate and creative when I am BRAIN DEAD tired. I mean, every morning I had to turn it on no matter who decided to call me in the middle of my night (Dad always called at like 8:00!).
But I did make one mistake when I was super tired after the show one day.
It was a Saturday and I decided to have a local cat shelter on the show (by the way the photo below of me holding a cat is not the cat in this story, just a disclaimer). The shelter’s volunteers typically came on once a month and brought a cat they wanted to spotlight from the shelter; it was always a fun segment, because I would get to pet the cat and talk with the shelter’s volunteer on air about how the cat needed a good home, etc.
This particular Saturday the volunteer from the shelter arrived about 10 minutes prior to the show’s start and walked the cat around the studio. I remember her telling me that the cat was a little shy and she wanted to walk the cat around on a leash so that the cat could acclimate to the studio. I won’t lie — I thought it was odd but hey, I’m not a cat whisperer right?
We start the show and about 10 minutes in, probably 1 minute before the segment during a break, the cat escapes. We’re about to go on for the live interview and before I know it, this fat, shy cat is running off and neither of us can get up to go catch it before we’re back on live tv. In the moment, I thought it made great comedic content for the interview. The volunteer and I joked about how “the cat somehow got loose” but “we’d find it” and “the cat is shy.” I mean this is what’s fun about live television right?
The next 48 hours though, was so NOT fun.
After the segment, the volunteer keeps looking for the cat. She’s searching the studio and starting to get more anxious as she keeps searching. I can tell she has no idea where the heck this cat went. So, after the show, she tells me she has to go to work — but she believes the cat will most likely come out of its hiding place on its own.
I was tired. I hadn’t slept the night before. I think when she told me the cat was still missing, I laughed hysterically because it honestly made zero sense. The little bugger had to eat right? How was it still hiding in the studio?
That morning, the cat never came out. And, I somehow convinced myself that if I just sent an email to the night crew letting them know “a cat was loose but that cat would most likely come out before the end of the day,” I was off the hook for the whole situation.
Our nightside anchor came in and flipped shit. I mean, rightfully so. Technically, I had left a cat in the studio that could potentially come out on air or possibly, eat through fiber that connected the entire Nebraska News information network. A cat that I essentially let loose could have pulled down our entire system (maybe).
So, I’ll fast forward here. Animal Control was called and my boss called me and she was NOT happy about the situation. Our Executive Producer named the cat “Catterlie” which kind of drew more attention to the fact that I screwed up.
Later that night, hours after the show, the cat did come out.
What I should have done (no matter how tired I was) was stayed at the studio until the cat came out or I found it. I should have remembered that I was responsible for the cat because I essentially invited the cat on as a guest for the show. And while it may suck to be looking for a cat when you’re freaking exhausted, if that’s the situation you got yourself into, you better get yourself out of it.
Let’s talk about what I learned in terms of the big picture.
Don’t ever expect anyone to fix your mistakes unless you want to piss them off. I’m fairy sure our nightside anchor wanted to kill me, considering she spent the first hour of her shift that day developing a master plan to catch “Catterlie.” She and I are actually still on pretty friendly terms today but I feel badly that she was cleaning up my mess that day. In business and in life, you’ll never make friends if you don’t learn to accept responsibility for the mistakes you make and you also have to learn HOW to fix them. You may be tired and you may be frustrated but it doesn’t ever give you an EXCUSE to push your responsibilities on other people.
Learn to problem solve efficiently. It took me a long time to learn how to NOT always go crying to someone else for the answer. It’s funny how now, I can think of a million different things I could have done to get that cat out of the studio. I could have gone to the store and got some cat food to put out. I could have called Animal Control and asked them for tips. I could have grabbed a flashlight and walked around the studio and searched crevices that the cat may have been hiding in. For some reason, I didn’t do ANY of this. I just sent an email to staff and kind of just hoped it would all work out. If you’re ever presenting problems to your boss, peers or even friends, come with SOLUTIONS. Even if the solutions you suggest may not be the RIGHT solutions, the fact that you took the time to come up with solutions to the problem you’re bringing to the table makes you look like a winner.
Cats are a pain in the butt. Yeah, that’s the last thing I learned. I really don’t want one. I think they are weirdly clingy at times and then oddly distant at other times. I’m good,
While losing a cat was not a fun experience by any means, I think I learned a lot from it. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Learn from the meow and move forward in the future…and try to hold on to your cats.