One sunny day on his postal route, Vincent Wyckoff crosses the path of an elderly gentleman whistling for his lost parakeet. The old man is upset, and Wyckoff moves down the block slowly, looking high and low, hoping to spot the little bird. He reaches the man’s house and offers sympathy to his wife, who smiles sadly and says, “We haven’t had that bird for twenty-five years.”
Letter carriers like Wyckoff walk through the same neighborhood each day, observing the lives and routines of its residents. They learn its stories, make connections between people, and, in many ways, become the common thread that connects neighbors to one another. Along Wyckoff’s mail route, Native American children teach him about totems. He finds assistance for a reclusive chain-smoking book collector who can’t maintain his property. He delivers a much-delayed registered letter mailed from Saigon in 1976. Over the years, Wyckoff sees the neighborhood of blue-collar retirees change as a diverse group of younger people move in and raise their families.
Celebrating the triumphs in everyday life and demonstrating the danger of trusting first impressions, Beware of Cat reveals the inner workings of an ordinary place of extraordinary interest.