All Creatures Great and Small — III

S M Chen
5 min readFeb 15, 2024

I work about one week a month.

For those who work full-time, it may seem I have it easy.

For those who are retired, there may be nothing to envy.

I work because it makes me feel good.

I feel as if I am still contributing, being useful.

I sponsor a Ukrainian couple who live with me.

They came in September 2023 and, as refugees, may stay up to 2 years.

What happens after the two years is up is uncertain, but at least while under my roof they are safe from bombs and missiles.

My job is about 155 km from home. That is its only drawback. I am put up at a local hotel for the week I work. It is too far to commute on a daily basis.

While away one day, I got a text message from the Ukrainians.

“Is it normal to have mice in the kitchen?” they asked.

I try to cut them some slack.

They are not fluent in English and some cultural differences may always remain.

We often use a platform called Telegram and an e-mail translator to minimize misunderstanding.

I think they already knew the answer to their question. Perhaps it was rhetorical and/or they preferred understatement. Or the translating platform has a sense of humor.

Not having any mousetraps lying about, I instructed them to drive to the nearest hardware…