It was in February, 2002 when the decision was made. My routine at the time consisted of waking each morning at 4:30 so that I had enough time for a quick cup of coffee, a shower and time to walk Ivan before arriving at my first client’s apartment at 6:00 am for a one hour exercise session. One morning while pouring my coffee at 4:30 am a mouse ran right over the top of my foot causing me to throw my coffee at the wall. Although I had been watching the culprits roam about the apartment for a long time, one had never actually touched me – until then. I stopped at Duane Reade that day and bought several of those repulsive glue traps that I had given up years ago.
Mice infestations seem to come in waves – usually in winter when it is to cold outside or, when there is construction in the neighborhood. Once the bulldozers start digging the mice scramble to find a new home and it was usually mine. During times of construction I bought cases of glue traps and set them up all around the apartment. I would usually catch a minimum of one a day for maybe three weeks or so, before the rest of the clan got the message and left for greener pastures. During an infestation, each day I arrived home to a sight so gruesome it became easier to let them live in my home until the winter was over when they would head outdoors. When a mouse gets caught on a glue trap, it struggles as hard as it can to escape. As it struggles to the right and to the left, and back again, it gets more and more of its body stuck onto the glue. Eventually the mouse is completely flattened out and looks just like a pancake with giant bulging eyeballs and a tail. They don’t fight silently either. Mice squeal loudly for a long time after they get caught. This would totally freak Ivan out. Each time he saw or heard the squeal of a mouse, he would climb up onto my bed and stay there thumping his tail wildly until I could coax him down. Many times we woke from a deep sleep to the squeals of a freshly caught mouse and I would have to get up and deal with it while Ivan thumped.
There was an alley between my building and the building next door on East 55th Street. When I opened my kitchen window I could stick my arm out and touch the bathroom window of my neighbors apartment. Below was a garbage dump. Not an official garbage dump, but a dump none the less. If one dared to stick their head out of the kitchen window, risking seeing my neighbor in his bathroom, and looked down to the ground they would see it was piled high with trash – years worth of every kind of trash there is. I think the people living in my building and in the apartment building next door just throw their garbage right out their windows. I, only threw mice out there.
One lone soul had crossed the boundaries and touched me. He ran right across my bare foot while I was pouring my morning coffee. He didn’t know it but he just got his whole family exterminated. I was at war and I would win – it was after all, my apartment. I arrived home after work that day armed with glue traps. I put them under every piece of furniture in the apartment as well as one in the exact location of the incident in the kitchen where I stood pouring my coffee earlier that morning. I was not looking forward to the mice removal activity I knew was ahead of me over the next several weeks, but I managed to fall asleep that night anyway.
The very next morning the alarm went off at 4:30 am and I slept-walked into the kitchen as usual for my coffee. I wasn’t even thinking about the glue traps or the number of mice that may have met their fate during the night – until I stepped on a glue trap. I stepped right on the glue trap I had placed in the kitchen, in the very same spot the mouse had ran across the top of my foot the previous morning. The trap had a mouse on it as well. As the mouse lay half dead on the trap staring squarely at my big toe, I let out a scream like one would expect a mother to do as she watched her two year old child step out onto a highway. I continued screaming as I shook my leg violently. As I shook my leg in a fierce attempt to dislodge my foot from the glue trap, the tail of the mouse kept hitting my foot like a small whip. I was crying, hyperventilating and screaming all at the same time at 4:30 in the morning. If I woke my neighbors, I would never know it, as no one came to my rescue. Ivan had burrowed himself under the covers on my bed and was shaking from fear. He had never seen me act this way and presumably did not know how to handle the situation. That was the day in February of 2002 that I decided I was moving to California. I moved on April 27th, 2002.
“There is but one honest limit to the rights of a sentient being; it is where they touch the rights of another sentient being.”
– Frances Wright