Cat Takes Sabbatical
Alice Waters envious of Fup's foraging opportunities
8, 2002, PORTLAND, OR Powells.com announced
today that Fup, the longtime store cat at Powell's Books,
has been granted an extended leave from her duties at the
Recent editions of the bookseller's online newsletter have
alluded to Fup's imminent departure, but today's announcement
is the first official statement issued by the company's corporate
headquarters. Michael Powell, president and founder of the
independent bookstore, admitted mixed emotions over the departure.
"She deserves a vacation," Powell said, "and
we hope she has the time of her life. But that doesn't mean
we won't anxiously await her return."
A quarter of a million subscribers follow Fup's adventures
via the company's email newsletter, which began documenting
the cat's life in 1999. Michael Powell assured customers that
PowellsBooks.news will continue to feature the cat in each
edition, updating readers on her travels.
According to Mary Winzig, president of Powell's bargaining
unit (ILWU Local 5), today's announcement had originally been
scheduled for late June, but uncertainty regarding the permissible
duration of Fup's leave under the company's existing union
contract forced postponement of the news.
"The t's are crossed and the i's have been dotted,"
a pleased, if tired, Winzig announced this morning. "I
think both sides had Fup's interests in mind."
In late May, PowellsBooks.news suggested that Fup could be
leaving the store. Concerned subscribers responded with a
flurry of email responses, worried that the leave might be
permanent. Winzig insists that Fup will indeed return.
Recently, Fup's destination was revealed to be the hills
east of the city.
Alice Waters, chef and founder of Chez Panisse Restaurant
and author of Chez Panisse Fruit, expressed considerable
envy at Fup's opportunity to forage from the rich local landscape.
"She'll find there are many more edible plants out there
than she could possibly imagine," Waters said. "I
was making mental notes as I was walking in Portland, and
I thought, 'Ah! Chestnut!' I saw wild fennel. I was thinking
about dandelions. Particularly going out in the woods, there's
likely to be some good wild mushrooms."
During Fup's absence, her sisters Ro and Clara will share
store cat responsibilities. The interim role marks the first
official store cat duties for each.
Today's announcement should put to rest speculation within
the company that Fup's departure was involuntary, not a vacation
but a suspension due to repeated violations of Powell's Time
and Attendance policy. Both Powell and Winzig declined to
comment on those rumors.
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