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Welcome To The Scenic Fire Swamp Library

, , , , , , | Working | March 4, 2022

For close to a year, thanks to extremely wet weather and other mad conditions, our tiny library, like most other homes and businesses on the block, was suffering from a rat infestation that would have tested the Pied Piper. As a former country girl, I was used to dealing with mice and even the occasional squirrel, but now I was in the big city and had no idea just how big — or smart — rats could be.

Our custodial department was dealing with the infestation, but it took a long time; as fast as they could get rid of one nest, a new collection of long-tailed travelers would come through and take over again. Also, the people who manage our money for such things are cheaper than Scrooge and insisted the custodians and librarians deal with the issue instead of getting in professional exterminators.

One of my coworkers, a very tall, muscular young man, came running upstairs with eyes as wide as pie pans.

Coworker: “There’s a little rat in the kitchen.”

Me: “What’s it doing?”

Coworker: “It’s stuck to the trap custodial put down. We have to call them to come and kill it for us.”

Me: “Okay.”

I went to my supervisor to report this and he confirmed that I needed to call custodial.

Custodial: “Oh, no. [Custodial Employee] deals with that. There’s no way I am coming anywhere near a rat. Not my job. Nope.”

[Coworker] and I discussed this and we agreed that, while we didn’t like the rats, we didn’t like thinking of a fellow creature suffering. Finally, I decided to do what I had seen my dad do with mice.

Me: “You’re sure it’s a tiny one?”

Coworker: “Oh, it’s a baby. You can get it without trouble.”

So, tapping my inner Indiana Jones, I grabbed a plastic bag and a copy of the Physician’s Desk Reference with the plan that I would simply scoop the glued-down rat into the bag and clock it over the head with the book. I know just how awful that sounds, but the things were using our reading room as their personal bathroom and we couldn’t have children’s programs as the darn things were actually coming out of the walls to join in on “The Wheels on the Bus.” It had to go.

[Coworker] and another coworker (because she had never seen a rat before) decided to accompany me.

We got down to our tiny kitchen and opened the door. An ROUS (Rodent Of Unusual Size) was standing bolt upright on the countertop, one leg glued to the paper, the rest of him more than a little free. When we walked in, he did the whole zombie hand thing while shuffling across the counter, growling and hissing. If we’d had a saddle, we could have sold rides on his back.

I am ashamed to say that I screamed, dropped the book, and dove for cover, followed by my two colleagues.  

The door slammed shut behind us, and when we went back, the rat had chewed itself free and disappeared down the holes for pipes. My second coworker turned to [Coworker] and shrieked:

Coworker #2: “If you claim that was a baby, I would hate to see a full-grown one!”

No idea about the size of this next rat, but I do know he was one of the Rats of NIMH.

Every day, we had to stop people from eating in the different rooms, but patrons have a way of sneaking food in without us seeing it. Teens, in particular, are amazingly resourceful.

Custodial was trying a new tack of setting up giant snap traps with peanut butter for lures. They came back the next day to find every trap snapped and the globs of peanut butter eaten. They couldn’t figure it out until they came to the last trap: beside it was a very sturdy chicken bone.

As near as they could figure, the rat in question had gone into the garbage upstairs where someone had disposed of a box of chicken in a wastebasket. It was clear from the scene that the rat had literally gone through the bones until it found a sturdy one and then gone round to snap all the traps shut.  

This third incident is the only time anyone had any use for the infestation.

The librarian was in a hushed argument with a rude patron who was on his cell phone, spouting all his personal business for the world to enjoy. He refused to take the call outside and kept putting his hand in the librarian’s face to stop her from talking to him.

Suddenly, as he was mouthing off at her, he fell silent, his eyes grew big, and he started to watch something walking (more likely scampering) behind her.

Librarian: “Is there a rat behind me?”

The patron nodded in horror.

Librarian: “Is it big?”

The patron nodded again.

Librarian: “Headed for the circulation desk? Yeah, there’s more where that came from. We’ve been warning everyone.”

Patron: *Into the phone* “Uh, I am going to call you back. I gotta leave. They got rats bigger than your Maltese here.”

And he was gone and never returned.

At long last, The Powers That Be finally caved and hired exterminators. By then, we had wasted over six months trying the Do-It-Yourself Approach. It was another six months before the exterminators finally followed all the signs and discovered a nest within the walls of the boiler room and finally got rid of them.

To this day, we have to fight to keep people from tossing food behind bookshelves or hiding trash. Why would you do that, especially when the wastebasket is right next to you?

When There’s A Strange Rat In The Neighborhood, Who You Gonna Call?

, , | Right | November 24, 2021

Me: “Hello, thank you for calling [Pest Contol Company]. How can I help?

Customer: “Hello. We’re having a bit of a rat problem in the attic.”

Me: “I can certainly help you with that. Just let me take down your details and I will forward them to a technician.”

They give me their address, contact information, and insurance details like a good customer.

Me: “Thank you very much. I will forward your information to one of our technicians and they will be in touch within the next few days.”

Customer: “Thank you, dear, that’s splendid. I should tell you; I also have a ghost in the attic.”

Me: “Um, sorry. A ghost?”

Customer: “Yes, but that’s all right; he can stay. He’s very nice! Sometimes when I’m up there, I can feel something brush up against me. And now my husband’s looking at me like I’m crazy, but he’s not on the same frequency as I am! Have a good day!”

Me: *Still a little stunned* “Thank you. You, too.”

I don’t know if the technician found either rats or ghosts in that attic, but the customer was extremely nice and I still remember her and hope she’s doing well!

Wish You Could Weed Out The Bad Customers, Part 2

, , , | Right | October 14, 2021

I handle the phones for a lawn spraying company. We treat for weeds or insects. We do not offer mowing or yard work of any other kind. The title of the company has the word “lawn” in it, but the rest suggests pretty heavily that this is a chemical spraying company.

Every year, when the advertisements go out, the phones begin to ring.

Me: “Hello, thanks for calling.”

Caller #1: “Yeah, I need my yard mowed once a week. How much would that be?”

Me: “We actually don’t offer that service, but I can recommend a few companies near you. Which city are you in?”

Caller #1: “I’ve had folks before who did a crap job. I want it mowed on the diagonal. Straight lines. Every week.”

Me: “As I said, we are a weed control company; we do not mow lawns. I do have the name and number of trusted folks who do that I’d be happy to share.”

Caller #1: “And edging. I have a fence around back and the curved sidewalk up front needs to be edged.”

Me: “Yes, but we don’t do—”

Caller #1: “And don’t leave clippings on the yard or the sidewalk. I want it all cleaned up.”

Me: “Yes, sir, I understand. But you are asking for something we don’t offer. We are a—”

Caller #1: “You don’t sweep?! What kind of company are you?!”

Me: “We are a chemical company. We do not mow or edge. We apply products to the lawn to keep weeds away. We fertilize lawns. We also offer several options of pest control.”

Caller #1: “So, how much would it cost to mow my lawn?”

Me: “I don’t know, sir, as we do not offer that service. We do not mow lawns.”

Caller #1: “Your ad says you do!”

Me: “Can I ask where you are seeing this ad? I’ll look into why there is an error.”

Caller #1: “It says [Company] Lawn & Pest.”

Me: “Yes. That is the name of the company. If you’ll notice, the tag line says, ‘Kiss your weeds good-bye.’”

Caller #1: “That’s false advertising!”

Me: “I’m sorry you feel that way. Is there anyth—”

The caller hangs up. Within seconds, I get my next call.

Caller #2: “I’d like a quote on services, please.”

Me: “Great! And you are looking for fertilization and weed control, is that correct?”

Caller #2: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay. If you give me your address, I can measure your lawn from here and give you an exact quote.”

Caller #2: “It is [address].”

Me: “Okay. I’ve measured your lawn to be just under 4,000 square feet, so we can treat that for—”

Caller #2: “No! My house is less than 2,000 square feet.”

Me: “I’m looking at it from an aerial view and it measures to just under 4,000 square feet. It would be—”

Caller #2: “NO! My house is only about 1,800 square feet.”

Me: “Sir, I’m measuring your yard, not your house.”

Caller #2: “My house is not over 2,000 square feet.”

Me: “I understand. But we will be treating the yard, so I have measured the yard. The yard is just under 4,000 square feet, so the cost for treatment would be…”

Caller #2: “What about only the front yard? What would that be?”

Me: “All right. Let me re-measure. Okay, the front yard is less than 2,000 square feet. Since our lowest price is just under what it costs for your whole yard, it would be a savings of only—”

Caller #2: “Thank you.” *Click*

It would have been only $4 less for the front yard but he never let me give him any figures at all.

Wish You Could Weed Out The Bad Customers

That’s Mite-y Suspicious

, , , , | Right | September 22, 2021

Me: “Welcome to [Pest Control Company]. How can I help?”

Customer: “Hello, I have mites.”

Me: “All right, you have called the line for home insurance policies, and they don’t normally cover mites. I can try to transfer you to—”

Customer: “No, you have to help me. It’s really bad. They are all over my scrotum.”

I am young and innocent at this point and not really believing what I’m hearing.

Me: “Pardon me, what did you say?”

Customer: “They’re all over my scrotum! You won’t believe how much it’s itching! I need help right now!”

Me: “Sorry, are you certain we’re talking about mites? It might be bedbugs; the usual symptoms for that are skin irritation. I just assign work orders, but I can transfer you to a professional who can help you narrow down what kind of pest you might be dealing with.”

Customer: “No, I know it’s mites because they’re just on my scrotum. It itches so bad. Give me your email address and I’ll send you a picture!”

Me: “Please don’t. I’ll just transfer you directly to a [Company] professional.”

Many apologies to the poor person at the pest control company who had to take that call, but we were not allowed to hang up on customers and I was absolutely not paid enough to deal with that kind of thing.

How Big Was That Rat?!

, , | Right | September 22, 2021

I work for a telephone service that takes overflow calls from a pest control company.

Swedish authorities do not give out weapon licenses willy-nilly. To own a gun, you are supposed to have a proper license. Those are usually issued to people who hunt or use their guns for sport shooting. You need to store your gun in a secured place like a locked safe to follow the law. There are all kinds of regulations in place, and if someone has a loaded gun in either a public or a private place, that’s a HUGE cause for concern.

Me: “Welcome to [Extermination Company]!”

Customer: “Hi, I’ve got a huge sewer rat in my house. Can you help me?”

Me: “Sure, I need some contact details and your insurance information, please.”

Customer: “What will you be doing when you come? I’ve tried catching it but…”

Me: “What have you been doing so far, then?”

I expect an answer like, “I set a trap,” or, “I stood on a chair and flailed for a while.”

Customer: “I tried to shoot it.”

Me: “You did what?”

Customer: “Well, I have this old shotgun, so I went down into the cellar and tried to kill it, but it ran away.”

Me: *A little scared* “Um… all right…”

Customer: “So, how soon can you have someone over?”

Me: “If you promise to put the gun away safely, I’ll send a technician right away.”