Close Encounters of the Furred Kind

Don't let him fool you. He may look cute; in reality, he's anything but.

Yes, this is the Mus musculus, the common mouse, which also happens to be commonly annoying.

My first encounter with the common mouse was back at the old house, on Route Z. Nevermind all the gross stains on the various Christmas decorations and never occured to me that they were tell-tales of the presence of mice.

No, my first encounter happened when I opened one of the drawers in the kitchen, finding a mouse ensnared by one of the glue traps Mom or Dad had set out to catch the rodentious (a word of my own devising) fiends. I don't remember if it was dead or still alive and wriggling, I only remember that it was gone shortly thereafter (likely disposed of by Mom or Smoky, our big gray cat).

Outside of that, most mouse encounters for me came in the form of scientific or educational observation. I never dissected mice (though now the idea sounds devilishly appealing). Yes, I even came to the conclusion that mice, overall, were quite adorable. Maybe even housepet-worthy.
But recent events have transformed my thinking into such that I believe the only housepet-worthiness in mice lies in being worthy victims of Alfred or Cali or Smoky.

Upon my arrival at KRCG, I was pleased to find that I would have my own desk. I was significantly less pleased to find lots of little, black objects scattered in the desk drawers. My astute powers of observation quickly concluded that it was mouse dung. Excuse me whilst I stifle an upheaval of my breakfast.

So, I quickly learned, one had to be careful in storing food and snacks here. "But surely," I thought, "I am smarter than these mice and can find a way of having my snacks and eating them too, without the pesky interference of SeƱor Mus Musculus.

And so I did, with various trail mixes and banana chips and crackers and such. Things seemed to go well. Sure I saw a mouse once or twice scurrying around the kitchen when I came in, but they didn't bother me personally. Even when I occasionally noticed rodent feces in my desk, my comestibles remained unmolested.

But then I made the eggregious error of buying instant oatmeal packets. Good for a little burst of carb-induced energy during the graveyard shift, I thought I was good to go. And I was, until the day I discovered a little trail of oats and faux dried blueberries leading to my box of oatmeal packets, which had been invaded by a mouse, who so cruelly ripped into my Blueberries and Cream oatmeal packet, spreading the debris all over the box.

BAH! The little b-tards had made the first move. Thinking quickly, I brought a plastic container from home and placed the surviving unspoiled oatmeal packets inside, protected from tiny claws and teeth.

But that wouldn't do for the long term. So I graduated to plastic-wrapped microwave popcorn and plastic-encased drink packets. Surely the mice wouldn't be able to tell there was food in here.

That worked for a time. The occasional mouse turd appeared, but no major incidents...until I made the following mistake. When my foot started hurting, I decided to keep a rice sock on hand at work in case I needed some quick heat therapy. It never occured to me the damage that I was bringing on myself. After onyl a couple of days, I was sitting at my desk working. I heard a squeak. Thinking it was only my plastic computer mouse, I paid no mind. Then I heard it again.

It hit me: the little b-tard was in my desk at that moment! With a horrible realization, I flung open my desk drawer: my fear was confirmed. The little cockroach had nibbled his way into the sock to get at the rice! As I discarded the ruined sock and emptied the rice into the trash can, I realized my foolish folly: I had been too confident and arrogant to see the painfully obvious blunder in putting cloth-wrapped grain in my desk. It was like begging the pests to come and feast and never want again.

Vowing never to make that mistake again, I still felt safe in keeping my plastic-wrapped snacks close at hand. But it was too late- the gauntlet had been not so much thrown, but dropped by my foolish pride. The open invitation had been sent and now it was open season on my desk.

Two days ago, as I came to work, I looked in my drink packet drawer. I saw what looked like a corn kernel. It took me a second to realize where it might have come from, and as I frantically opened the seperate drawer where the popcorn was stored, my fear was realized- there was a bag of buttery microwaveable popcorn, torn open like a lamb before a pack of wolves.

On a whim, I checked my top drawer, which had no consumables in it, only note pads and tapes. But lo! there was a mouse right there, brazenly challenging my authority as an occupant of the the highest level of the animal kingdom pecking order. By the time my shock turned to anger, it was too late- the fiend had scurried into the depths of the station nooks and crannies.

Infuriated, and wishing I had a healthy supply of mouse traps, I checked my snack supply. Sure enough, the beast had nibbled through the plastic of each and every one of my popcorn packets, though only in one other case did he actually bite into the paper inside. I am, for now, treating the others as unharmed, thought I may decide to err on the side of caution and pitch them. He had also gnawed his way into one of my drink packets, but I had a lot of those, so I wasn't terribly distraught.

But I had had it- the little beast-ards had forced me to change tactics. So, I placed my remaining snacks and beverage packets in Ziploc bags, labeled them with my surname, and placed them in the station's refridgerator, the impregnable fortress into which the mice had no entry. It meant more walking when the snack urge hit, but that was a necessary sacrifice. You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, any cook will tell you that (But look what happened to the cook!).

Is that the end? No, for as I worked today, out of the corner of my eye I saw a flicker of movement. Sure enough, behind my computer and by the cubicle dividing wall, the little demon scurried along, moving from desk to desk. I watched, not in horror or disgust, but with mute triumph, for I had bested the beast- he could leave all the craplets he wanted...but no more would he ruin that which I call my snack stash. Victory, though costly, was mine.

Epilogue- but what about pest control, you ask. Surely the station manager must be aware of the problem and surely he must be taking measures to curtail the furry menace which is upon us. But alas, nary a trap or ounce of rat poison has been laid. Why? Perhaps it's a matter of budget. Perhaps it's a matter of apathy. Whatever the case, should a KRCG employee wish to wage war on the notorious Mus musculus, he or she stands alone. And I stand ready to offer my wisdom and battle-hardened expertise: "It's called a fridge...use it!"


Jeanne, the mom said…
I have just seven words for you: Plastic storage containers and stick-em glue traps!
YUCK. I HATE mice. They disgust me. They make everything feel dirty. Maybe your boss really does need some pest control!!!
Sarah Lambson said…
I don't care that they are horrible pests, I still think that mice are cute! Your pictures of them don't help either. You need to give them devil horns. But I do feel sorry for you :(
emily said…
leave it to sarah...Crazy animal lubber. J/K

Well-written, horrifying, funny, a memory you'll always treasure!
Mary Victoria said…
Yeah. We had your bugger's family living in the basement a few months ago. Did you ever see The Secret of Nimh? You know the one... the rats & mice stole power from the farmer's house?? Well, when our mice looked me in the eye, they seemed to find me the pest..I was creeped out. Not even Max will go in the basement anymore! Good luck to you...sticky traps are the key. Listen to your momma!
Julina said…
Yes, that's all well and good for the Mus musculus, but now you have to worry about the other office pests getting into your stash (the human sized-variety) - a name on a Ziploc is no guarantee...

We had mice/rats in my first apartment in Japan - I never made eye contact, but metal containers were our best friends (heavy-duty plastic did OK, but metal was better). (My companion saw the rat - she was up the stairs before I was, and you could tell she'd made eye contact from the scream. the senior elder - the male half of our office couple - helped us with addressing the issue...but I think I transferred shortly thereafter...)

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