Saturday, January 19, 2008

Musings: Dirty Business

It was a good morning for sleeping in, being Saturday, with passing rain showers and nothing due or pressing on the perennial “to-do” list. Besides, I was up late last night, having good fun. A friend and I went down to Small Town Coffee Co. in Kapaa to hear Kaimi and his cousin play Hawaiian music.

Their friend Oshi had his traveling kava bar set up, and I actually saw quite a few folks I know, including two people I’d done stories on and like very much. It’s a really nice, mellow vibe to be in a place where people are drinking kava instead of alcohol, and the music was excellent — much nicer than the rustling rats I still continue to hear.

But the exterminator came yesterday, a young buck in shades and ball cap turned around so the bill was in the back. He was both cheerful and reassuring as he deftly placed poison bait blocks on skewers that he set inside plastic boxes.

Rather than performing rat murder, with snap, live or glue traps, it’s more like exterminator-assisted cult suicide. The rats voluntarily eat the bait, tell their friends about this great new food source, and everybody dies.

“Will they die in the walls or attic?” I asked.

“Hopefully not,” he said. “When they start to feel sick, they’ll crawl into the bushes, or go back to their nests, somewhere they feel safe.”

“But what if their nests are in the attic?”

“Nah,” he said, “I don’t think so.”

“Then what are they doing in the house?”

“Looking for food and water.”

“But there’s no food or water in the attic or between the walls.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he advised. “I’ve put out a lot of poison for this small house. Give it a week, and I’m quite certain that 99.9 percent of your rat problem will be solved.”

I’m willing to take his word for it, and glad to leave the dirty work to him. I’ve dealt with rats many times before, including once when I trapped five within 20 minutes from my attic in Anahola, where they practically threw themselves into the live trap because they were stuck in my attic and desperate for food and water.

I could see their beady eyes peering at me each time I stood precariously on the edge of the loft and pushed back the attic door and slid the trap in, praying they wouldn’t jump out or on me.

I was a methodical killing machine that morning: drop the loaded cage — without looking — in a five-gallon bucket of water, dig the hole, and by then, they’re ready to be dumped in it. Then cover the hole, rebait the trap and start over. It wasn’t pleasant, but it had to be done.

I’d called my boyfriend at the time for help, but he dawdled and arrived when the extermination was over. I was trembling a bit, because it’s never easy to kill something, but hugely relieved to get the rodents out of my house.

Another boyfriend, who once begged off assisting at an execution with the excuse that he was born in the year of the rat, and so couldn’t possibly contribute to their demise, told me the look in my eyes scared him when I said, fine, pushed him aside, filled the bucket with water and killed the damn rat myself.

“There was no God bless his soul or anything,” he later recalled.

Maybe it was ruthless, and I’m usually very tender-hearted, but when it comes to rats and cockroaches in the house, all sentiment vanishes. Desperate situations call for extreme measures, but I'm glad this time to turn the job over to a paid assassin.

While we’re on the subject of rats and desperation, Pacific Business News has a story about Hawaii Superferry being in an “emergency situation" because ridership is so low.

It doesn’t contain anything you haven’t already read in this blog, but finally the mainstream media is covering the fact that Hawaii Superferry’s passenger numbers are way low, and there’s been a lot of discrepancy in the figures that have been reported.

The article never mentions the barf factor outright, but did quote a letter from the company that stated the winter start "caused the initial voyages to be undertaken in rough weather, which may negatively impact public perception."

Yes, trying to put a positive spin on the "Pukerferry" is indeed a desperate, dirty business.


Anonymous said...

Why am I posting this anonymously? Will people think less of me because I couldn't kill a rat?

Until a couple of years ago I was a house person. There were rats in the wall and ceiling. I put out Have A Heart traps, collected them, and slunk off before the sun came out to dump them in the Chinese cemetery.

Unfortunately others replaced them, so one day I bought some of those cubes and put them out. I know they worked. The rats did die in the walls. Not pleasant for a week or so. Maybe something else finally went after the dead rats and ate them up, I don't know.

Then it was time to move out. So the rats won, in the end. I left, they stayed.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if Koko would approve but they have hundreds of rat killers for free... at the Humane Society- they're called cats. ;>)... Andy

Anonymous said...

hindu says "what?!!"