It wasn’t very Christmas-y, but earlier today, I had a consultation with a rat expert. To the tune of $335, he was to ascertain if a family of rats has moved into a wall of our office on the first floor. Here’s what I learned.
They didn’t move in, but it appears a couple of rats have toured the crawl space under the house considering whether this would be a good facility in which to get married, settle down, and raise a family. They apparently decided to delay their decision-making when they heard the clamor made by two dog visitors. Toby and Rodeo ferociously objected to sharing visiting space with illegal aliens they could hear-and-smell-but-not-see, and the rats made a quick, but possibly temporary retreat.
I lack sensitivity when it comes to maintaining peaceful co-existence with rodents, so the rat man and his extermination company is preparing to surprise them with various death traps and other inconveniences. And I’m going to pay him an additional $350 for some even more creative longer-term solutions which will discourage further house hunting by the little invaders. My hope is that if I refuse to give them hospitality, they will refuse to give me bubonic plague.
I feel bad about it, but my instruction to the rat man was, in effect, “Just tell them there’s no room in the Inn.”
That was earlier today. Since then I have been suffering from pangs of guilt not just because of my lack of kindness and manners, but also because of a revelation which came to light only because of the rats.
I have deep respect for any person who has ever entered the crawl space under my house. The rat man is one of those heroes. I’ve never had the occasion, courage, or desire to explore those murky depths myself, just as I have never felt the need to crawl into and explore my future grave at Holyrood Cemetery. But the rat man crawled into that dark and eerie crawl space, performed his duties, planned the next ones, — and then he made an awful discovery.
“Mrs. Ford”, he told me grimly upon emerging, “In the crawl space, there’s pool of water about 30 feet wide, and about 6 or 8 inches deep. And the water pumping into it is scalding hot.” In the few minutes of chaos which followed this announcement, we were able to identify the culprit – my hot-air furnace (you knew I’d have that kind, didn’t you?). The furnace man was called, made an urgent visit, ordered a part, shut off the boiler, and scheduled time on Tuesday to install the part.
As the dust was settling though I had to think about it. I owe those rats. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have known about that erupting tsunami going on underfoot and I would have soon been drowning, either in water or in utility bills.
After all they’ve done for me, I feel awful about the way I’ve treated the rats, but the nice thing about being a Catholic is that you know how to handle guilt. I wish I could welcome the rats into my home, really I do, but I just can’t. We have too many irreconcilable differences to ever make our relationship work.
But I do want to wish them a very Merry Christmas, and the best of luck dealing with the rat man. (They should hurry. He’s already got the money and there are no refunds.)