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I know what you’re thinking. Jorts? Jorts and Jean? Jean jorts? How are “jorts” going to save 2022? Why are we even still talking about these?

I am pleased to inform you that Jorts is referring to a lovely orange tabby cat somewhere in the US, and his buddy Jean is a tortoiseshell or “tortie” cat. If you haven’t read the original Reddit post, they are workplace cats who work on a staff with a bunch of nice humans and their supervisor made the original post because they were concerned about a colleague named “Pam.”

“Pam” and the supervisor just didn’t see eye to eye on what exactly was going on with Jean and Jorts. Jean is a smarty-pants who can open lots of doors, whereas Jorts pushes all doors, even when they’re the kind you pull. Thanks to this skill, he sometimes gets himself or the both of them stuck in closets. “Pam” decided to start creating “educational moments” for Jorts, which really ended up being problems for others, specifically Jean.

This leads me to what’s been so amazing about Jorts’ and Jean’s influence. Jorts has proven to be the opposite of a milkshake duck and “he” really cares about animal adoption, workers’ rights, and having positive vibes.

In case you aren’t sure what a milkshake duck is, it’s when someone like a person or an animal goes viral as a result of something cute or otherwise joyful, and then it is revealed that they are somehow problematic. For example, if Jorts had gotten on their Twitter account and started to share racist memes, make sexist comments, et cetera. And the good news is, that is not the case! Jorts’ account—which is obviously run by Jorts himself—is dedicated to being nice.

Along with photos of everyone’s new favorite buddies, Jorts has rejected every request for him to “sell merch.” Instead, Jorts recommends that you go to an animal shelter and whisper the secret password, which is “I want to adopt a cat.” Then, when you bring a cat home, you are the owner of official Jorts merch. Genius, right? Jorts shares lots of tweets from animal shelters around the world advertising cats. More often than not they are orange cats, of course.

In addition to cats, Jorts likes to tweet in solidarity with workers, including the Starbucks workers here in Colorado. He posts friendly reminders, like how your employer cannot keep you from discussing wages with your co-workers. Jorts also posts really nice reminders about being kind to one another and to ourselves.

Finally, the thing I’ve really been enjoying the most about the Jorts and Jean saga is the ways in which disability advocates have been able to draw some really good metaphors that hopefully everyone can understand.

Fiona, a disabled blogger in Scotland, wrote a really powerful article about this which I will summarize here and you can read the whole thing on her blog, Granite and Sunlight. First, it’s important to match the person to the job. Jorts can’t do everything that Jean can do, but that’s okay, because he has the appropriate skills for his unique role. Secondly, workplace accommodations are the responsibility of the employer who must provide them in order to keep employees like Jorts safe. Last, disabled folks don’t need their co-workers to be a “Pam.” It doesn’t feel good to have someone use their pity to try to do something to you or for you that you don’t need help with, so put the margarine down and see Jorts as an equally valuable colleague in your space. Jorts and Jean bring different skills, just like your disabled co-workers, and all of them deserve respect and dignity.

In conclusion, Jorts and Jean have already brought great vibes to 2022 and started great conversations about work and about self-love. It’s been so fun to follow their Twitter account and get all the updates. And when you feel overwhelmed, remember that Jorts believes in you.

Sarah Adams

CU Boulder '22

Linguist and cat person, most likely watching a hockey game, but I ought to be working on my Masters thesis.
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