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Rats! June 28, 2010

Posted by alwaysjan in Home Front.
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Okay, while rats is the operative word, it’s a metaphor for so much more… Rats leaving a sinking ship, as in eleven, count’em, Thank You cards lined up to sign for colleagues who received a RIF notice.  Rats! Some of the best teachers ever are being put out to sea, while the sinking ship that is education takes on more water (aka students).

To add insult to injury, as the teachers struggled to pack up last Friday, the fire alarms went off at one-minute intervals – for five hours (okay, they took a break for lunch).  My son, who was helping me pack up my room, looked stricken.  I said, “Can you see how this could drive you crazy?” as we wandered in circles looking for the one roll of masking tape we needed to cover all the bookshelves with paper.  Especially, if you’re already crazy to begin with,” he shot back, but I’m immune to his caustic comments. I don’t know why the military engages in waterboarding, when the most effective form of torture I can think of is having you pack up a filthy classroom with fire alarms blaring.  Think about it.

I checked out of the school by 1 p.m.  My husband was late joining us for lunch.  He’d been at home waiting for “Johnny Rat,” the pest control specialist, to check out our growing rat problem.  (Yes, that’s how his name is printed on the card.) Think tiny claws in the walls at night and palm fronds that suddenly collapse with tell-tale nibble marks.  We’ve been in denial about “the rat problem” for years.

When I wrote I Smell a Rat, we were talking about ONE rat.  Now we’re talking about legions.  Think of the movie 300 only with rats in the starring roles.

So Mr. Rat and his sidekick, Nelson, from the Rat Patrol took a look see, and the news wasn’t good.  I think the only reason we don’t have a termite problem is because the rats have crowded them out.  So my first day of summer vacation was spent listening to the ills that could befall of us if we don’t take care of “the rat problem.”

I now know way more than I ever wanted to know about personal lives of these wily rodents (or vermin, depending on your POV).  We were informed that once the rats had all been trapped and new screening installed so they can’t jump from the trees onto the roof and move back into the attic, that a new problem of biblical proportions will emerge.  Rat mites!  Without a delicious rats to feast on, the starving mites will come looking for fresh flesh and blood…us!  Through the walls…through the ceilings. We couldn’t write the check fast enough. This will be an ongoing battle and from an evolutionary standpoint, the rats have an advantage.  We’ve trimmed all of the bushes and trees four feet back from the house. Johhny Rat and Nelson are all that stands between us and these flesh eating mites.

Mr. Rat winced when we introduced him to our son’s two pet rats, Peanut and Brittle.  My husband informed him that rats are smart and make great pets.  Johnny agreed that they are smart as he’s been trying to outsmart them for years.  But the look on his face said it all.  Pet rats!  I think he thought we were crazy.  But then he met the pig and now he knows for sure. Rats!

Comments»

1. elissestuart - June 28, 2010

I like her purse.

Elisse – It’s only fitting that our rats are style mavens. Jan

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2. Calamity Jane - June 30, 2010

Wow, I think I might rather be camping Idaho style then dealing with Rats! Or Rat mites… Want to come to camp Jan? The only thing you’ll deal with besides lack of space is the proud Hens early in the morning as they exit the coop and announce to the neighborhood that they have just layed the most perfect egg.
But that may not bother you…Doesn’t Maisie do that too?
There is loads of fresh air!

Calamity Jane – Would you believe I had a student this year named Calamity Jaye? For a minute I thought it was her, but then I remembered you’re living in the great outdoors! Yes, Maisie likes to make a grand entrance, but she has yet to lay an egg. The wild west just got a little wilder with your crew. Jan

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3. Catherine Sherman - July 1, 2010

The rat problem shows you how any creature in small numbers — such as your pet rats — can be a plague when they come in crowds. Kind of like some relatives.

You ought to peddle your fire alarm torture method to the military. I think they do have a noise torture device that they have tested on ships to use against pirates.

Sorry you’re losing some of your teaching friends. It’s tragic, really.

Catherine – Pirates are also a common problem in the elementary school classroom, so I’d be interested in finding out more about such a device. Jan

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4. hotlibrarytech - July 2, 2010

RE: noise torture device – Didn’t they do that in the Middle East? I think they played old Manilow records and drove out the desert rats.

Hot – I’m betting you have some Manilow albums I could try this with. I’m looking for an alternative to the big bucks in education. 🙂 Jan

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