This blog post is being posted without a single second of editing. Why? Because this episode had me so stressed I used my writing to help destress. I think if I edit it I may loose the sense or urgency with which I handled the situation. Here goes…
According to a recent talk on the local NPR station people are only born with two innate fears. All other fears, the speaker said are learned. This opening statement caught my attention. Currently, I have been dealing with a mouse, well maybe mice is more accurate. They are in my car.
The stench was so bad one morning I was convinced the mouse was dead. A cursory look by myself and a friend determined the mouse could be inside the housing for the rear seat belt. This was evidenced by a chewed area on the seat belt where the fuzzy stuff was exposed.
Throughout the next week I cringed at the thought of taking apart the seat belt mechanism to dislodge the dead mouse. Each day I managed to avoid the task. That’s what happens when we are in fear. It is the old ‘flight or fight.’ The stench disgusted me.
After a beautiful hike to the St. Charles Natural Arch in Rye, Colorado I wearily opened the back door to my beloved little Subaru. There on the floor was the scattered remains of a Kit Kat candy wrapped. It was shredded. Squeezing my eyes shut, my body froze. Intuitively I took a few breaths. Embarrassingly I told my hiking buddy that the dam mouse was alive and in my car.
The good news is that this traumatic reality of living in rural America, convinced me to NEVER eat in my car again. In the meantime, I had to face my learned behavior. A fear of dealing with mice.
So that afternoon I stopped at my neighborhood Lowe’s and bought four sticky pads, four traditional mouse traps and one weird gadget to capture the mouse in a plastic container. Still, on the drive home my body shook. What if the mouse showed him or herself while I was driving. I turned the music up ridicously loud to drown my unpleasant rumination.
At home I called my friend Phyllis who had recently told of a time she had a mouse in her kitchen cabinet. Her husband was three states away. Yet she called him to take care of the problem. Phyllis suggested I borrow some peanut butter to set in the trap. As mice and rats are a natural part of rural life, I decided to go buy my own jar.
On the way home from the store I called my sister. She suggested I call the guy, who is paid to set and tend ten traps I have set around the outside of my house and garage. Special trips to my house, I explained are an added fee. I also told her how I mentioned the mouse in my car to several male friends and neighbors. Usually these guys lend a ready hand to help with general maintenance. Not the mouse problem. No one volunteered to set a trap and later get rid of the dead or worst yet, dying captive.
Finally, I resolved that my fear was a learned one. Just as I have overcome my fear of effectively winning the start of a sailboat race, I vowed to stop avoiding the rat trap. Afterall, I am much bigger.
To keep things simple, I set out four sticky pads. One on the floor under the steering wheel, as recommended by Phyllis. One on the floor in the back seat where I found the chewed candy wrapped. And, two, in the truck portion. With my body in a tense state, I took a warm shower, put on clean clothes, scrubbed my hands over and over and over again.
I put on my jammies and called it a night.
“Oh no!” was my first thought when I awoke after a peaceful 8-hour sleep. “I have to go check the sticky pads.” This was 5 am. This required a structured thoughtful plan. Each step took about 15 minutes to garner the strength to enact. First, I put on a pair of disposable gloves. Then, I changed into clothes I wouldn’t mind throwing out. Lastly I donned a face mask in case the car really smelled bad.
I walked outside, opened the garage door, then ran into the yard. That annoying voice in my head shouted, “No, No, I can’t do this.” I went in the house and made a cup of coffee. Then the voice scolded me, “You can’t relax with coffee until the work is done.” I wanted to cry but no tears welled up in my eyes. There would be no pity party; rather an invisible kick in the butt got me back outside.
Into the garage I creeped. Somehow I opened the back door of the car. No mouse on a sticky pad. Shining a spotlight in the truck space I peeked on those two sticky pads. No mouse. I swear it took another ten minutes for me to open the front driver’s side door.
Oh, G____. You’d think I was in a horror movie. The sight was beyond what I think I can describe. As a writer, I will approach this as if I am being paid a million dollars to describe the scene.
There on the sticky pad on the floor beneath the steering wheel where I put my feet when driving with cruise control on, was a mouse. He wasn’t dead. It was worse. His beady eyes were looking at me. His belly was puffed up and breathing. His body was struggling I guess to get off the sticky pad.
I slammed the door shut and again ran out of the garage. Thankfully, I remembered to breath deeply. I had to get rid of him. “Oh, yea,” I reminded myself to use the Rubbermaid container I placed in the car to put over the top of the mouse and sticky pad. I kind of through the container on top of the mouse. I could still see his belly move up and down.
Reaching for the pad and container my heart began to race. I wasable to lift it to the height of the seat when suddenly, the pad and the mouse slipped out from the container and onto the floor. Thankfully it landed right side up. This time I grabbed a bucket. As I ever so slightly lifted the pad, with the mouse on it and the container over it, I was able to slide it into the bucket.
The poor mouse fell into the bucket upside down. How could I suddenly feel sorry for it. I don’t know. Walking with the bucket toward the street I found a nice shaded spot on the far side of the street. Ever so gently I dumped Mr. Mouse – still stuck on his sticky pad – in a perfect place for the crow or vulture or next in the food chain line to take it from there.
Now, to repeat this for at least one more day until no more mice are caught in my car…Although this afternoon I will do an extra studious clean out of the interior. Please take a moment to pray there are no more critters in my car and I promise, I swear, to never again eat in my car again.