Tuesday, March 25, 2008


My store is located on one of those cool pedestrian promenades--y'know, an open air mall which consists of several city blocks open only to pedestrian traffic, a la Pearl Street in Boulder. In our case, we sit on three blocks of cobblestone madness. No cars, but all kinds of freaks and geeks, bums and sidewalk performers, runaways and serious shoppers. We have dancing Yoda. We have the girl with the lovely voice who has a grand total of eight songs in her repertoire: three Beatles songs (including that great Lennon/McCartney classic, "Rocky Racoon"), a Cat Stevens song, a Green Day song, and three others. We have the 6'4" black man who paints himself silver and--well, I don't exactly know what he does.

This is where my store is. It's in an oldish building. We're three stories. We have a steady stream of homeless people and celebrities, and everything in between. Oh, and three months ago the rats moved in.

Now, we've always had the occasional mousie. You know, Mickey. We'd set a trap, Mickey would be caught, we'd let him out down at the far end of the alley, and all would be well. But these were rats. Big, ugly, naked-tailed, rats. Bold motherfuckers, too. They'd run across the cashiers' feet while they were ringing up transactions. They'd run across the sales floor in front of the little old ladies and small children. And worst of all, they'd race around in the interstitial area between the floors, so you could hear them fighting and doing whatever other unclean sorts of things rats like to do when no one's looking.

So we got the pest control guys in.

Then we had them in again.

Then we had them in three times a week, placing disgusting glue traps (no setting free of these rodents), tossing poison pellets around, placing more traps...

Finally the rats started to die. Now, don't get me wrong; it was lovely not to hear them above your head when you were trying to work, or be afraid that they would dart out in front of customers. But you know what dead things do, don't you? No, not haunt. They smell. And after a couple of days, they smell really bad.

So we got the pest control guys in. Three times a week. They crawled around in the ceiling and under the desks, and each time they left with anywhere from one to six dead rats. Finally, the smell started to dissipate.

Then one day I was in the break room--a windowless area, far removed from any egress to the outside, on the second floor--and I saw the biggest fly I've ever seen outside of the tropics. It was at least an inch and a half long, I swear to god. Aside from thinking ew, how gross, I didn't dwell on it. Until I saw his brother downstairs, in the receiving room. And his cousin, upstairs on the third floor. Then it occurred to me.

Dead bodies decompose. Decomposing bodies beget maggots. From maggots are born flies.

Ratty's revenge. I guess they did haunt us.

And people worry about whether I display Ann Coulter or Al Gore more prominently.


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