The Cross Bay Bridge Strays
I would like to bring to your attention what some may consider a minor matter, but what seems to me an unnecessary cruelty, even if it’s on a small scale.
I am a Bridge and Tunnel Officer employed on the Rockaway bridges. I’ve worked both at Cross Bay and at the Marine Parkway Bridge, though I’m currently stationed at the Marine Parkway.
I’ve worked as an officer for MTA/ TBTA for over 12 years now and have been stationed at the Rockaway bridges for just shy of the last 7 years. For the past 20 years or longer, long before I started this job or arrived at the Rockaways, it was the habit of numbers of officers employed at the Cross Bay and the Marine bridges, as well as other employees there, such as maintenance workers, to feed stray cats who often slept around and stayed near the administration buildings of each bridge. This was done purely out of kindness for a needy animal, though since both administration buildings are nearby overgrown and somewhat wild terrain, the animals repaid the kindness by keeping the rodent population in check.
Recently a new Maintenance Superintendant was assigned to the Rockaway bridges. I won’t bore you with the details, fascinating in their machinations though they can be, of the internal politics of MTA/TBTA. But it has been the practice lately for higher management to be shifted fairly regularly and quickly to and from the Rockaways, either serving as the first stop for those newly raised to management in order to gain experience or as the last stop for those generally on their way out to retirement. So it is likely that the recently arrived Maintenance Superintendant, a gentleman by the name of Brian Mullin, won’t be at his current position for any length of time. However, Superintendant Mullin has taken it as his mission to forbid the practice that has been going on long before anyone currently employed at the Rockaway bridges arrived there, namely the feeding of a few stray cats.
I would have thought that the head of the maintenance department of an MTA/TBTA facility would have much weightier matters to occupy his time and attention, but apparently not, as Superintendant Mullin spent the past weekend searching the employee’s locker room and bathroom and upon finding a garbage can used to store dry cat food, put a printed notice on the can that the contents were to be removed from the premises by May 5.
This was not Superintendant Mullin’s only notice, as he had previously plastered around the administration building, in at least half a dozen locations, a notice forbidding the feeding of “wild animals” which listed not only cats but also such creatures as zebras, giraffes, and others, I assume in an attempt to display by his “humor” that he was really a “nice guy.” But it appears that Superintendant Mullin has now switched to a “no more Mr. Nice Guy” stance, as he has recently replaced the original notice with one labeled “Final Warning” and a list that only includes cats, dogs, opossums, and raccoons. The last two animals are wild animals that are seen fairly frequently around our administration buildings, but no one has ever intentionally fed any animal other than a cat.
One can wonder why Superintendant Mullin is so concerned with denying food to a few needy, homeless cats, considering how long the practice has been going on without any of the numerous previous administrators considering the matter a problem that needed to be solved or even worthy of their attention. When I asked Superintendant Mullin for the reason, he replied that one person at each bridge had complained about the practice because they were allergic to cats. This explanation appears patently ridiculous since the cats are fed outside the buildings, not inside. Though not presented as a reason by Superintendant Mullin when I inquired, there has been some concern about the food given to the cats attracting raccoons.
I can’t say why Superintendent Mullin thinks that people acting as most humans would toward a helpless animal in need is a situation that should be “corrected.” I couldn’t say if he dislikes cats specifically or animals in general, as I have no knowledge of his feelings on the matter. Maybe it’s a case of something that is too often evident in our organization, and I imagine in many other organizations as well, of an individual exercising power simply because he or she can, perhaps even deriving greater satisfaction from their self-perceived importance by the fact that the action is arbitrary and unwarranted.
Lastly, I admit again that in the big picture of things, this is a small, a very small, problem, but one that I think anyone with any human and humane feelings would perhaps like to see corrected. Thank you for your attention.