03 October 2013

MouseCare and the Government Shutdown

City slickers have no idea of what we country folk endure.  Where is the government when we need it?  Even back in the day when the federal government was “open”, the bureaucrats did nothing to help us frayed-collar citizens deal with the things that are important in our daily lives.  

So, while the government did find time to:
i) collect our tax money and give it to incompetent U.S. bankers and corrupt Afghan politicians,
ii) make rules restricting our ability to hunt and eat heart-healthy fish in quantities sufficient to replace antibiotic-laced chickens and pigs in our daily diet,
iii) tilt at windmills (or pay others to do so) because Al Gore told them to do that--(how come Gore can get the government to listen to him but he could not get the people of his home state to do so when he ran for President and lost his home state, and the election, and we ended up with “Doubleya’’ instead?)  Some of you have accused me of picking on Al Gore in these blogs. Harrumph. This is, as we used to say when we were kids and didn’t know better, “a free country” , and Al Gore was free to run an incompetent election campaign, then free to become a demi-billionaire by selling to Al Qaeda his cable tv station that had about as many viewers as I do, and I am free to keep reminding you of these facts, ...

and, finally, our government, while ignoring me, found time to
iv)  make empty threats to foreign leaders who outsmarted us from the gitgo,

and while all that was going on, neither John Boehner nor Barack Obama did a bloody thing about the field mice occupying our home in Montauk. Nada.  Make no mistake, I am talking RODENTS here, beasts who stalk our pipeways and interior walls on a non-stop, 24/7, 365 basis. They are neither toilet trained nor willing to abandon their adamant and arrogant refusal to negotiate peace terms. (Please do not write me nasty emails: the pronoun in the previous sentence refers to the principals in the sentence immediately preceding it, not those in the initial sentence of this sub paragraph. Even from here I can tell what you are thinking!)

Like so many other enemy combatants, they were stupid and self-defeating, with the result that both sides lost.  

Because my government failed to come to my aid, I needed to resort to private enterprise (all hail the TP'ers!) -- a local businessman who carefully kept his employment rolls below fifty so that he was not obliged to supply health insurance.  Actually, he kept the number down to zero.  This sturdy Montauker was so lacking in government assistance he held down two jobs: school bus driver and exterminator. (I don’t know if you have noticed, but they don’t call themselves “Exterminator” any more.  I think Arnold Schwarzenegger has a lock on that word and will not let anybody else use it. So here is what happened with my “Licensed Pest Control Specialist.”  This is a true story:

For years, we have noticed an awful smell in a downstairs closet. Comes and goes, but mostly present. Plumbers, carpenters, contractors were all stumped. Finally, in desperation, I decreed that all closet walls were to be ripped out and we found, ta dah, a mouse graveyard at the base of the closet floor, between a pair of vertical studs. I’m glad my carpenter made it outside the front door before he threw up.

Some might not appreciate how mysterious this is.  Almost every country house endures field mice, especially in winter.  And like humans, mice die from time to time.  Usually outside, but sometimes inside, and then sometimes in between the walls, and when that happens, there is an odor for several days, until the critter dries up. Unusual, but not spectacular. Livable.  But a recurring foul smelling graveyard yields lots of questions.

So the next day, after the the  local "Pest Control Specialist" parked his school bus and arrived to deal with my problem, I reviewed with him what I saw as the issues:
1. Get rid of the dead mice, and the smell,
2 How did they get into that spot,  
3. Once they got in, why couldn't they get out,
4. Why were they dying so regularly in that spot that there was always a "fresh" corpse, and
5. How do we prevent a recurrence.

I show him the closet, he looks at the dead mice, and says, "Yup, definitely dead mice".  I feel encouraged.

He looks in the basement and says "No mice here."  Hmm. I begin silently to question his competence.  Of course there must be signs of mice in the basement.  

As to my specific questions he says the following:

1. As to getting rid of corpses and the smell; "I don't do cleanup."
2. How did they get to that particular spot:  "I don't know, you'll have to ask the mice." (This is an actual quote.)
3. Once in there, why couldn't they get out?  "I  don't know, you'll have to ask the mice. "
4. Why were they dying so regularly in that one spot:  "I dunno. They have a life span, y’know.", and
5. How to keep this from re-occurring:  “You’ll never really get rid of them.  I can put the poison down, but it's cheaper if you do it yourself.  Then watch and see if the poison is disturbed."  

On the way out, he said, "Okay, give me $20 for the inspection".  Yippee. I couldn't wait to get him out of the house.

Unlike Breaking Bad, this story has a satisfactory ending (Yup, I was rooting for Walter White right down to the end):  

After our Licensed Pet Specialist departs, my savior, Captain Skip, charter boat fisherman and mechanic extraordinaire, arrives to save the day:  He has the appropriate filter mask, disposes of the mouse remains, cleans up the area, sprays the studs with bleach, etc, and opines: The mice travel over the house but in this case, they fall down a particular bay of studs that has no pipe holes or other openings at the bottom, and no insulation to use as purchase to crawl back up, so once in there, they cannot get out. Solution: cut a hole in the adjacent vertical stud so they can escape into the next stud bay, which does have pipe holes to the basement. That way, when the MouseCare Death Panel so decrees, they will be able to escape and die outside with their colleagues. Then seal up the closet wall and declare victory. Problem solved.  Live and let live.  A  very un-governmental solution.

Before today, I was appalled at the government shutdown. Now... .  

A bientot.