I used to work for an ESL school in downtown Boston. One of my most vivid memories from that school was “The Mice Day” when the office was invaded and I found myself perched on my desk and screaming hysterically.
Not a mice fan.
Not at all.
So what occurred after That Mice Spotting was very predictable: the rest of the office girls start screaming, the boss comes in and makes fun of us, the exterminator is called and POOF the mice are gone. End of story.
Ohhhh the things we take for granted. To think that I am n o s t a l g i c for that experience in light of tonight.
Tonight I go through my normal routine. Cook dinner, clean dishes, study Setswana, write some emails, etc. It’s 9:00 and I’m ready to settle in for my favorite dessert of cornflakes and sugar (blissfully forgetting my once-upon-a-time decadent American desserts) when all of a sudden a little face peeks out at me from behind a living room chair.
I am instantly weak with fear. It’s strange. I feel my whole body get frail and queasy. I put down the cornflakes and start pacing the house.
I continue this for a while and then realize I really DO need to do something or else I’ll be forced to spend the night atop my coffee table.
And so I strategize.
It’s phenomenal the things you’re capable of when you don’t have any alternatives. I am certain in America I’d be shrieking and calling for the neighbors. Instead I do the following:
I close the door to my bedroom and bathroom.
I open the front door of the house.
I take the mattress off my bed and prop it on its side between the livingroom door and the front door.
The mattress makes my living room into a kind of corral so that when the mouse runs it will be forced to circle the room or run out the door. I’m banking on the hope that fear makes it choose the door.
Once I’ve set up this route I need to find a way to scare the mouse out of his hiding place without inducing my own terror. Again, I strategize:
Okay, the mouse is behind the basket.
(Cripes that’s a long tail… is this a rat!?)
I can poke it a bit with this long stalk of sugar cane.
I can avoid getting in its path by poking from on top of this chair.
And so, here is my horrified climax and your amusing image:
Me. On a chair. In pajamas. Clutching sugar cane. Poking at a rodent.
To my great surprise and relief
The mouse (or, perhaps more accurately, Rat) races around the room and out the door and is gone
I am left shaking on top of that chair and compiling the next strategies…
Call the landlady.
Check for holes.
Keep sugar cane on hand.
Eventually I dismount and settle back into the sofa. I feel quite proud of my controlled hysteria and methodical resolution. Still, I prop my feet off the floor and check behind the couch eight times before resuming the cornflakes.