Exterminating My Spirit Animal

The rat is back. Or, rather, rats are back, and new ones.

We think we killed off Geoffrey in late August. The exterminator assured me there was only one, so I’ve been doing my laundry confidently since then. But every time I walk in there, I know there’s the possibility that Geoffrey could be in there, and I go in anyway. Geoffrey has been my intractable problem. He has taught me so much. He taught me that problems are not there to be solved. We can’t defeat every challenge that comes before us; we need to live with the danger (in this case, the danger of a rat being stuck in the laundry room with me). I live with the uncertainty of never knowing if he is there or not, and I act anyway. Geoffrey taught me how to cope with this life, rather than overcoming it. Geoffrey was some sort of spirit guide.

Still, I always said that if I encountered Geoffrey, I’d crush him with my bare hands.

We never saw Geoffrey. We figured the poison dehydrated him and he died before school started.

This past Tuesday, I saw insulation spilling out of the rat hole in the wall of the laundry room. A Borax box was on the ground. Signs of a rat, scurrying around my laundry room. Ugh. The rat guy came by first thing Wednesday morning. He found a dead rat in the wall. I wouldn’t look at it. Although he didn’t have to, he removed it and bagged it up for me. I signed a one-year contract. There are now six poison stations inside and outside the house.

On Saturday morning, I was ready to let the dogs out when there, perched on the dogs’ water bowl, was a rat.

I shrieked. It ran into the baseboard heater. We all lingered a while. We slipped The Zapper at one end of the heater and a glue trap at the other and left. About an hour later, I heard one of the dogs growling. The two dogs and the cat were on guard in front of the heater. Daughter and I observed, gradually inching ourselves onto the kitchen counter. I called my friend to ask her what to do. She gave me advice, letting me know (and I didn’t even ask) that her husband was grabbing a box…husband left the house. The rat dashed out of the heater, across the floor underneath us, and into the kitchen area! The dogs belatedly followed, and one dog kept vigil in a corner. That nice husband was at our front door.

There was no rat to be seen. He figured it slipped into the gap next to the dishwasher. We patched up one side of the washer with steel wool. We laid a trap of Zapper + glue trap in front of the other side of the dishwasher. We found some of the exterminator’s professional bait on an old glue trap and threw it into the gap. Nice friend told us about the time he lived in a farmhouse and had a tug of war with a rat over a bag of chips. It happens to the best of us. He left.

The current outgoing fellow is definitely not Geoffrey. We named this one Thom.

I had one meltdown in the afternoon, when the kids argued with each other. “Get away from my daughter!” I yelled at my son as I crumbled to the ground in tears, realizing that it wasn’t him I was talking to.

A few hours later daughter and I took a look and saw that a big chunk of poison had been taken. We moved the poison station from the laundry room to the dishwasher. We set up a glue trap on the final exit, with a wee bit of dog food to bait it.

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A few hours later, the glue trap was dislodged and the dog food gone.

We went to daughter’s play. She was a hit. As she beamed on stage, no one would know that she battled a rat all day. When we got home, the glue trap was upside down in the middle of the kitchen. One dog was sheepishly hanging out by the water bowl. Something was up.

Then we spotted him, lying underneath that baseboard heater. We had just said goodnight to our friend, L, at the show, so I knew she was up. I called her to ask for advice. While we’re talking, Thom twitched(!). She said she’d be right over.

She and her high school daughter arrive, as calm as can be, and with a plan in hand.

I give her the special rat-catching gloves I’d bought in July. We found a tupperware from the summertime dinner donations. She picked him up and put him in the tupperware, declaring him nearly gone. She put the lid on, but not tightly. She started to talk and gesticulate, and the kids and I couldn’t take our eyes off the tupperware, thinking Thom was going to jump out. Son admitted that, and we all laughed. These rats have been such a presence in our thoughts. How could it just lie there like that? L taught us how to not be afraid.
Her daughter asked if we had a large rock, to put it out of its misery. I get some plastic bags to put it in before we smashed it. Then L opted for drowning. She used the spigot outside, filling the tupperware.
We went inside for more discussion and laughs while Thom expired. L then said it was time to dispose of it. I suggested our gully, but son pointed out that daughter plays there. So we opted for woods where nobody goes. That led to the weirdest funeral procession ever. L led the way down our driveway, still waving that tupperware. I brought up the rear with the flashlight, illuminating the kids in front. We chatted about weird funerals we knew. Daughter was doubled over with laughter. It was surreal. It all is.
L found a nice log in the brush off our street where daughter doesn’t play, and that’s where Thom rests.

3 thoughts on “Exterminating My Spirit Animal

  1. Wow and I thought I had problems because I’ve recently killed a mouse in the house and am waiting to see if she has any relatives coming to the bait box! At least you’re able to find the dark humor over your experience. When you dispose of the rats, though, make sure wild animals or your dogs can’t find the bodies. If the rats have poison in them, that can kill what ‘good’ wildlife or pets eat on the body.

  2. I am concerned about other animals eating the rats. The pest guy assured me that the poison doesn’t have secondary effects, but that was back when this first started, and I didn’t ask him about every possible scenario. I will check again and get this straight.

  3. Pingback: Taking Stock | somenewnormal

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