The schnitzel man
So last night while I was on the search for the brown skirt I encountered a very cool sight. Coming out of a side entrance from Dizengoff Center I saw a cluster of maybe 18 cats all milling around on the little strip of green with some of them being quite verbal. Seeing large quantities of street cats milling around is, sadly, not a very unusual sight here. But these cats were gathered together for a reason. And these cats did not have the guant, haunted and hunted look of the average street cat. I didn't notice at first the balding man in his early 50s with the bicycle and small set of newspapers in front basket. The cats were certainly noticing and, as more streaked across the street to join the throng I took a glance back to my left. From a large plastic trashbag this man was pulling out big handfuls of long strips of cooked meat and carefully laying them in piles on equally carefully laid out newspaper on the ground. The cats were in ecstacy. I had to go back several steps in order to tell this mensch thank you for his good deed.
We had a short and pleasant exchange as he continued to unfold sheets of newsprint and lay them carefully on the ground before depositing more piles of food. "I do this every evening," he told me, "I feed these and three other groups. Every evening and good quality food, they are getting schnitzel." He was obviously proud of what he was doing and also obviously very happy that someone noticed and bothered to thank him for his good deed. It turns out that he works in a butcher shop and every evening he brings home the meat that, while still good, is past the point where it can legally be put out for customers the next day. He takes it home, cooks it, puts it in a large plastic bag, gathers up the day's newspapers he's finished reading and heads out to feed the cats. He started with just feeding a mother and her kittens close to his home but soon the other strays in the neighborhood started arriving. Then he started noticing the other needy cats on his route to work and day by day their plight bothered him more and more as he saw how "his little group" were thriving...so now he has his cat route. This modest, quiet, hardworking man is a Mensch with a very capital M.