Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why curiosity killed the rat: a tale of a rat and its tail

Hey everyone. Long time no blog, eh? All has been pretty quiet, here. Although, not entirely quiet enough, as I received the following e-mail from my neighbor this morning. It's simultaneously the best and worst e-mail I have ever received, and so I had to share. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll throw up in your mouth a little bit. Here it is, in its entirety.

Hi [Property Manager],

This whole thing boils down to one simple comment, but I thought the story deserved to be told. As you know, last week, Rachel in apt. [XXX] opened the door to the south stairwell, and encountered a rat. A big rat. Both apparently frightened, Rachel dashed down the stairs and out the back exit and the rat scurried over her feet into the first floor hallway of the building. After reporting her experience to you via e-mail, [our neighbor] chimed in that she's heard scratching between the walls at night. Soon thereafter, E, our trusty exterminator, paid a visit to the building. Then, over the long holiday weekend, all went quiet. Until today. 

Herbie, my faithful mutt, woke me with a bark this morning, reacting to sound outside our condo. Still adjusting from unconscious to alert, my ears suggested the squeals came from the street and the thuds from the sidewalk. But then, as my mind worked to match the sounds to those familiar, I realized they weren’t garbage trucks or worn down brake pads. And their sources were coming from the hallway.

I began to fill with dread. [Our drug dealer neighbor] was back, he and his friends were fighting. [Our crazy ass psycho neighbor] was throwing newspapers in front of everyone's door and nailing pamphlets of condemnation to the wall. But, I thought, what would those things sound like? Doubtfully quite like this. 

While holding Herbie close, stroking his head to calm his nerves, my brain returned a hit for the audio: the banging of office equipment... and the sound of pain. Both were outside my unit's door. 

After what felt like an hour, but was surely a mere few minutes, the hall went quiet and I felt the coast was clear. Moving slowly from the bed, I went to the door and aligned my eye with the peephole. It was the usual view of a dark beige carpet and a light beige wall, but there was a dark form in the far left of the fisheye lens. My curiosity piqued, I decided to unobscure my sight and cracked open the door. And there it was, the top half of a paper shredder beneath a dead grey rat. 

Unpleasant. I shut the door. The excitement over, my active thoughts moved to preparing for work. But as I dressed, the annals of my mind continued to analyze the scene. Someone killed a rat, that much was clear. But, why the paper shredder? Maybe the rat-killer used it to bludgeon the rat - but why would the rat be on top of the shredder? Unable to answer the question, the dark regions of my brain moved on to other matters.  

Ready to leave the house, and finally over the rat, I took Herbie outside for a bathroom break before I left for work, the rat and the shredder were gone. Only a few shredded pieces of paper remained to indicate there was ever a shredder on the floor in front of my door. With that mental note, the already terminal remainder of my hope for an explanation died.

Returning from Herbie’s favored patch of grass, however, we ran into K, exiting her apartment with a broom. I was about to ask her if she knew anything about the morning's events, when she said, "I'm so sorry to have bothered you this morning." 

"So it was you?" I inquired.

She set the broom to the floor and placed her hands around it, preparing to sweep. She paused. "Yeah. I don't know what to call it, it wasn't a mouse, it was... it was..."

"A big ass rat?" 

Her eyes got big, "Yes!" she said with firm surprise, before her mouth stretched in a silent scream.

A beat passed and I asked what happened. This morning in her apartment, her friend told her he found something, and Kim wasn't going to like it. In another room, there was a rat. An angry rat. A stationary rat. Upon inspection, it turned out to be a rat whose tail had been partially chewed and stuck in the blades of Kim's paper shredder. The rat was pissed. 

A short series of events later, Kim's friend moved the top of the shredder, rat still attached, into the hallway. Then, he beat it mercilessly with a broom until it stopped screaming and lay motionless, tail still stuck in the machine. 

While I was out with Herbie, Kim disposed of the rat and its very expensive trap. Thus explains the mystery. 

tl;dr At least one rat has been found inside a unit in the building, I recommend E pay a visit to [XXX] to inspect for method of entry and take whatever measures necessary to end the reign of rat terror.

Many thanks,

So, that's what's new with me, Internet. What's new with you? 

Rat vs. Shredder


  1. She shredded a rat? In the HALLWAY? Where people walk? My god. Really, really dumb.

    1. I can't help think....poor rat!!
      He mut have done something really bad in a previous life to finish like this.

  2. I feel bad for the rat, but I would probably be traumatized by finding a rat trapped in my paper shredder. I like your neighbor's eloquent email, though!

  3. I love the Rat vs. Shredder picture!

  4. Ok am I the only one who felt awful for this poor rat? I mean, I wouldn't like finding one in my hallway either, but they have live traps nowadays. I couldn't justify beating anything to death.

    1. We all feel bad for the rat. But I am 99% sure the paper shredder as inhumane rat trap was completely unplanned.

    2. Is Crystal serious? Kill the rat, it's not like there's a shortage, in fact when mankind has done itself in there will still be rats.

      and now for Crystal:

      Ben the two of us need look no more
      We both found what we were looking for
      With a friend to call my own
      i'll never be alone
      and you my friend will see
      you got a friend in me...

      Ben you're always running
      here and there
      Ben you feel not wanted
      If you ever look behind
      and don't like what you find
      there's one thing you should know
      you have a place to go

      i used to say i and me
      now it's us, now it's we...

  5. So that's what I felt crawl across me that night I slept over on the air mattress?

    1. What about the cockroach welcoming committee at your place? ;)

    2. I'll take a cockroach over a rat any day. Not like you don't have those, too. And yours are big, ugly black cockroaches. Mine were pretty red ones.

    3. Cockroaches found in Rachel's apartment: 0. Cockroaches found in Molly's apartment: 1 (albeit a "pretty," "red" one(???)). I still win. Kisses!

  6. It was a stationary stationery rat.

  7. GAH! If there is one thing I don't want to come across in life it's a partially shredded angry rat!

  8. Living In Baltimore, I can completely relate to the horror of rats (though thank God only in alleys). But we once found one completely torn apart on our back sidewalk thanks to a lovely cat who thinks coming in my yard to piss the dogs off is good fun. Asscat.

  9. DEAR GOD. This is quite the place in which you're currently residing. All of these adventures sound like something that would happen in a sitcom. Plus side? One less rat? Maybe the other rats saw his fate and have decided to move on?

  10. I love how the letter reads like a particularly surreal Agatha Christie mystery... Also, I think K should bill the building for services rendered.

  11. Hi! I've been reader for just a few months and I recently went all the way back to the beginning of your archive and read the majority of your posts. They're so good! You're so witty and funny, and such a great writer! Have you ever considered turning your blog into a book? I'd totally buy it! Anyway, I was just curious if you still keep in touch with your Parisian roommate Fred, or even Herve, or if you have any updates on the people you've dated both in France and in the US. And do you have any plans on returning to France? Sorry if that's too many questions. Hope you're well and I look forward to reading more from you :)

    1. Hi, Erin. Thanks! In answer to your questions, I haven't kept in touch with Hervé. Fred is living and doing something entrepreneurial in China now, and occasionally, like a couple times a year, I'll catch him for a few minutes on gchat. Thanks for reading!

  12. your profile picture is adorably hilarious. Are you trying to be a seal...?
    Also... is it bad that I feel so sorry for the rat who got its tail stuck in a shredder (shudder) which was probably painful, and then it was beaten mercilessly with a broom... gah poor creature! It was kind of an entertaining read though.