That is, a pest control company.
A battalion of licensed mouse killers.
I’ve had mice in my garage for many years. I think this is de rigueur for a detached garage in my suburban neighborhood. I regularly purchase little square trays filled with bright blue poison-pellets. The mice gobble up the pellets and disappear.
I repeat the same routine every autumn in my attic and basement, generally with satisfactory results. That is, I never actually see a mouse. Face to snout, that is.
One morning last week, however, things changed.
I was moseying along in my own bedroom, barefoot, minding my own business, when right there -- under my ironing board (I am one of approximately two dozen people living in North America who still irons) – as I said, right there -- under my ironing board -- was a tiny rodent staggering in ever narrowing circles, limping, stumbling, occasionally pitching forward.
The attic door is next to my ironing board. Apparently, the little guy partook of the aforementioned blue pellets, then squeezed his tiny pliable body under the door between the attic and my bedroom before his head began to pound, his eyes glazed over and his little tummy started to churn.
I hate to admit this: I screamed.
How dumb was that? I was home alone. Who was going to hear my scream? Who was going to rescue me? And rescue me from what? A sick baby mouse?
Give me credit. At least I didn’t leap onto a chair.
Mr. Mouse toppled over. I slapped an empty clear plastic sweater box over him and watched him gasp and shudder. Even worse, I caught his little back leg under the edge of the box’s lid as I slid it under his piteous convulsing body. I felt bad about that.
He had a perfect set of tiny whiskers; a miniscule wiggly nose; soft gray fur and a white underbelly. He was extremely cute.
I flipped the sweater box – now covered with a lid -- and carried it to my garden, where I considered releasing him. A friend reminded me that he was loaded with poison and would be a toxic meal for the hawk who lives in my neighborhood or for the cats who occasionally meander through my yard, looking for a nice place to pee.
So I released his little leg from between the lid and the box and let him fall back and die. I placed him gently in the trash.
I realized, at that moment, that the little blue poison-pellets had been disappearing faster than in years before and I was trekking to the hardware store a couple of times a week for replacements.
I broke down and – for the first time ever -- called a pest control company.
The salesman made an appointment to visit two days later. I stuffed a blanket under the attic door and slept, albeit fitfully.
What was I afraid of? Would another sick mouse enter my room in the middle of the night and seek comfort by jumping into bed with me?
Self, I said, come on! You’re a grown woman.
(A grown woman who screams like a preteen when she sees a mouse.)
The exterminator salesman was charming. Business-like. Knowledgeable. Comforting. He put paper boots over his shoes before he stepped into my living room. He tuned in on my distress. He sympathized. He examined the scene of the crime. He searched for clues. He found evidence. We agreed on a time for the actual Mouse Killer to come and do the dastardly deed.
A few days later, the MK arrived. I expected a Dickensian-like character: Fagin perhaps, or Uriah Heep; a skeletal, stooped over, unkempt man dressed in rags and covered with rat hairs; a sniveling, shuffling n’er do well who would wring his hands with delight as he crept around my attic and basement, sniffing out rodent nests.
Hardly. The Mouse Killer was charming, knowledgeable and business-like. He also wore paper shoes. He analyzed the situation and placed his baited traps.
He will be back next week to check results. He will return yet again in another few weeks. I think my pest problem is under control.
If it isn’t – you can be sure I’ll write about it.