Sunday, August 24, 2008

The rat files - Episode 1

The Rentokill man, a young fellow of about 24 named Adam, turned up at our house last week to start the ominous-sounding 'Stage 1' of our rodent elimination process. That's really a very nice way of saying that they are going to poison whatever is under our floor so that it dies a slow horrible death. Three days I believe - three days of agonising pain and then they die from external and internal hemorrhaging.

"Jesus, can't we just catch it and let it out in our neighbours yard?" I asked, looking mortified at what I was about to be an accomplice to. "Well," said Adam, hand on his hip, cup of coffee in hand, "the thing is, these rats carry disease. I've seen people taken very ill from rat bites." I doubted he had, but I imagine it's part of Rentokill protocol to give the soft-hearted housewife this spiel. And yes, I'm sure that some of them do carry diseases, so again, why not just let them out in our neighbours yard?

It got worse. "He might be down there alone, or he might have a family, but this stuff should take care of all of them," said Adam, thinking that the whole family line would make me imagine lots of rats and therefore make me less empathetic and more mercenary. Like I'd say, "Yeah, go ahead, annihilate the f***ers!" Instead I said, "Family? Who said anything about a family? Oh god," imagining a motley crew in Beatrix Potter Dickensian garb trying to make their way in a harsh world, i.e. the space under our kitchen floor.

Adam went on and on about disease and bites, and looked at me, and then at Julia, and I saw his point. I just wish there was another way, a quicker one that didn't involve them having to suffer such a long painful drawn out death. It genuinely unsettles me.

I also learnt that although rats live in filthy environments, they don't actually eat filth, or rather, given a choice, they don't. They much prefer cleaner things like grain, rice, that sort of thing. They are also apparently partial to peanut butter (them and Milla Jovovich is would seem), and crispy dry bacon. And as for mice and their love of cheese? Complete myth, according to Adam - they have no interest in it.

So that was my rodent 101 introduction. And instead of a manicure or nice client-paid lunch to look forward to this week, I have Adam returning to see if he's managed to catch anything in his traps, and to spot any mutilated corpses.

God forgive me.

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