I Lived with a Rat

Walking down the street
Carrying a baseball bat

rat.jpg

So you may remember that I lived in Ireland for a while. Dun Laoghaire, to be exact, which is a suburb of Dublin. I moved there after graduating college to avoid getting a real job. Lesson learned? A real job means benefits, decent pay, and tolerable hours. The places I worked in Ireland were not real jobs.

But this is about the rat.

After trying out several different living venues over my first few weeks, I settled on a bedsit, or, in American, vermin-infested hellhole. With no electricity (this will be important later).

Now, my memory isn’t what it used to be, so lucky for you I kept a journal. Allow me to set the stage with some excerpts:

ESB can’t hook up my electricity till next Thursday?!?!?!?!

I decided to spend some money on decent bed gear—sleeping on a mattress with a towel for a pillow and a coat for a blanket just seems too depressing.

Made £2 in tips tonight.

Luckily Paul gave me a candle, which saved my life.

I built a fire and cooked a grilled cheese over it.

I’m drunk in Ireland at last!

Tim is very nice, but definitely not a prospect.

You might guess where I ended up—yes!—McDonald’s, home of the hangover meal in any country.

After paging through interminable references to eating at McDonald’s, I found the rat incident

Now for the most horrible thing that has ever happened to me in my life.

Remember: one-room flat, no electricity.

I was sound asleep after a hard day waitressing for crap money and rude Irish people who made fun of my accent. A rustling noise woke me up—it was coming from the other end of the room, where I kept a large plastic bag full of smaller bags for garbage. I couldn’t quite tell, but it seemed that the noise was coming from the bag. I sat up in horror. The rustling noise was definitely coming from the bag.

My heart stopped—I was literally frozen with terror!

Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t run screaming into the night, not stopping until I got back to the US. Instead, I opened the door to the hallway, grabbed the bag, and heaved it out the door. Somehow I managed to go back to sleep, but maybe an hour later, I heard that sound again, coming from the hallway: rustle, rustle, rustle . . . THUMP! What the f-ing hell? I wanted to get up and see what was going on, but I was too scared.

The next morning, the whole incident seemed silly. I was probably dreaming, I told myself in the safety of daylight. This was Ireland, home of rolling green hills and magical faery-people. Nothing bad happens here!

I walked up the half-flight of stairs to the bathroom I shared with the other upper-floor tenants and

found a sign on the door, the words of which I will remember for the rest of my life

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: There is a very large rat in the bathroom. Perhaps you could use the downstairs loo, until the creature can be dealt with.

Great motherloving Zeus.

I later talked with the author of the note, and he told me of his encounter with “the creature.” After making a “yea-wide” gesture with his hands to indicate its size was comparable to a small dog, he told me the rat CAME TOWARD HIM rather than running away when he found him in the bathroom. Like, he slammed the door on the rat right before it leapt onto his head and started eating his face.

This vicious dog-sized rat creature was what I had PICKED UP and carried out of my room and into the hallway.

The worst part? I had to go BACK to that rat-infested pit of a room after another day of work. STILL with no electricity. The landlady had put out poison, but that didn’t alleviate my fear and disgust. I stayed awake all night, watching my lousy candle burn down to a waxy puddle.

But at least I haven’t found any dead rats.

_________________________


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43 Comments


43 Responses to “I Lived with a Rat”

  1. 1 Tim

    What does a rat smell like? Did you notice if you could “smell a rat”?
    We don’t have rats in Alberta, yet. There are rat police, whose only job is to check shipments and borders and kill all the rats that try to get in. I think we need to pay these valiant, dedicated employees of the state a lot more, and maybe give them shiny awards like the one you got last week.

    Tim’s last blog post..Playstation Game Cheats for Oddworld : Abe’s Odyssey

  2. 2 MouthyGirl

    You are fearless JD! It just goes to show that in the dead of night without seeing the monster we can all do heroic things, lol!

    MouthyGirl’s last blog post..Make My Hump Day

  3. 3 Babs - beetle

    Oh, I so remember those hell hole ‘Bed sits’ I viewed a few myself once. Thankfully, I never had to live in one! I did, however, live in a flat where the whole house was empty, except for me, and it turned out, dozens and dozens of rats lived in the basement! I came home late one night and my foot brushed against something on the stairs. When I looked down it was a small rat!

    They were long haired and brown and I thought rats were Grey. I often heard them scampering about on the ground floor. I lived up top, thankfully.

    Babs – beetle’s last blog post..Just a dream?

  4. 4 Kathy

    I would have taken the poison myself rather than sleep another night in that place. You’re a better person than me, that I know is true. I also could not rough it without electricity for any length of time. I’m such a weenie.

    Kathy’s last blog post..Kathy By the Numbers

  5. 5 cardiogirl

    I swear I can feel the bag swinging akimbo in your hands as you lobbed it into the hallway. AAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH!

    And the note priceless:

    ” found a sign on the door, the words of which I will remember for the rest of my life

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: There is a very large rat in the bathroom. Perhaps you could use the downstairs loo, until the creature can be dealt with.”

    I love how proper those Europeans are (until the creature can be dealt with).

  6. 6 Natural

    My solution to most things that disturb my sleep: I opened the door to the hallway, grabbed “whatever” the bag, and heaved it out the door.

    Yeah when animals that normally should run away come toward you, that’s your hint to get the heck out of there. The size of a small dog? That thing is probably eating better than I am.

    I’m sure it’s dead now, you’re safe JD, you’re safe.

    Natural’s last blog post..If I Only Had A Brain

  7. 7 Regan

    Oh, wow. I would DIE if I saw a rat that big. I’d swim across whatever ocean separates the US and Ireland. That’s how freaked I’d be.

    It must of been a horrible experiance, and someone should make a movie out of it.

  8. 8 jennypenny

    I think that experience would have made a nighttime streetwalker out of me. Oops, that didn’t sound right.

    jennypenny’s last blog post..Have Your CAK And Eat It Too

  9. 9 Canucklehead

    I remember thinking that the whole NY rat thing was a big myth until I found myself it an almost deserted subway station at the end of a long night. I won’t go into details here due to the apparently squeemish nature of your viewership, but three of them took my food, hotdog while a fourth had its way with me. They are large and in charge … indeed Tim, to this day I wake up in a cold sweat ‘smelling a rat.’ I cannot even watch Disney films anymore — too painful.

  10. 10 Tiggy

    Didn’t anyone tell you that Irish rats are lucky? They live in underground tunnels with leprechauns and some of that Oirish magic rubs off on them.

    If you kiss an Irish rat you would probably win the lottery and be showered with free Guinness for life.

    Or was that kissing the Blarney Stone? I forget.

    Tiggy’s last blog post..Tiggy’s Word Of The Day – REM

  11. 11 Daisy the Curly Cat

    Since I am a cat, you would think I would know this, but I was just wondering: what is the difference between a mouse and a rat, anyway? I think a rat might just be a very, very big mouse. I have never caught a mouse before. I have never even seen one!

    Daisy the Curly Cat’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Peek-a-Boo!

  12. 12 Sue

    Ok, so here is how mean I am. My husband tends to scream like a little girl if there is a mouse in our house. Literally. Like a little girl. I laugh until I cry at his expense. I am the almighty getter of mice, bugs, bats, whatever makes it’s way into our house. I would PAY MONEY to see his reaction to a rat. As long as tissues are provided to dry up all of my tears of laughter. I giggle just thinking about it.

    Sue’s last blog post..Local Photos

  13. 13 JD

    Tim: Fortunately, I cannot tell you what a rat smells like, but I’m guessing it’s bad. This was more than 20 years ago, but if things haven’t changed, then Ireland needs to hire some of these rat police of which you speak.

    MouthyGirl: Ugh! I couldn’t do it today, that’s for sure. I think I must’ve been half-asleep, or I would’ve just pulled the covers over my head.

    cardiogirl: I know! I can still feel it—and hear it—today. If I had written the note, it would have been a lot less civilized.

    Babs – beetle: Oh, my god, that sounds like a horror story. “House of Hell Rats.” How did you stay in that house?

    Kathy: HA! Yes, I considered taking the poison and just ending it all right there, but 20-ish years ago, I was made of stronger stuff. Today, no electricity means no JD.

    Natural: I hope it’s dead. Rats can swim, right? How long do they live? How far can they swim. Thank god for electricity—I’m sleeping with the lights on tonight.

    Regan: Oh, what a great idea! YES! Someone should definitely make a movie. What would be a good title, do you think? And would I be allowed to star as myself, even tho I’m 20 years older?

    jennypenny: Too late! You’ve already confessed. OK, we want to hear all about this secret life of yours.

    Canucklehead: They took your hot dog? Man, that’s rough. Perhaps you could email me the gory details. I’m not squeamish!

    Tiggy: Huh. Now I did not know that. Had I only thought to reach into that plastic bag, pull out the rat, and give it a big kiss, perhaps I wouldn’t be running AdSense today!

    Daisy the Curly Cat: I think you’re right: a rat is just a very large mouse, and maybe uglier and meaner too. I think you’re smart to stay away from mouses and rats. Stick to lizards and snails—they make much better friends.

    Sue: Oh, that is great stuff. I can’t say I am brave enough to try to capture creatures, but I, too, would laugh my HEAD off at your husband or any man who screams like a little girl at a tiny mouse. HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

  14. 14 Babs - beetle

    Funny, but when you are young things don’t freak you out as much. faced with a large rat, or lots of baby rats running up and down my stairs, I wouldn’t even go in to pack – my feet wouldn’t touch the ground!

    Babs – beetle’s last blog post..Just a dream?

  15. 15 Regan

    Hmm, the title could be really exaggerated so more people go see it. Something like “The Tale of the Giant Rat” Starring: JD

    It’ll be a really awesome movie. =)

  16. 16 Lori

    Just reading the title gives me the willies – and not in a good way!

  17. 17 Alice

    Hmmm…rats are one of the few animals I haven’t had to deal with directly.

    I did have a black mamba in my outhouse in Kenya, but I made my neighbor machete it for me.

    Alice’s last blog post..Babycakes Semi-Approved Blog

  18. 18 JD

    Babs – beetle: That’s very true. When I look back on some of the stuff I did when I was younger (blog fodder ahoy!) I can’t believe I didn’t gross myself out forever.

    Regan: Perfect! Of course, the “Starring: JD” part would be in bigger letters than the title, right?

    Lori: No, definitely not the good kind of willies. The very worst willies.

    Alice: Now where was your neighbor with his machete when I needed him? That’s pretty scary…

  19. 19 Regan

    Sure! It would also be in big flashy, blinky lights. In whatever style you want! And I’d get a part, too, right?

  20. 20 windyridge

    Get out girl! I went to Trinity College and lived all over Dublin for 4 years with the last abode being on the top floor at the front left of the campus. I had friends in Dun Laoaire. Small world.
    Rats ain’t so bad, we have two of them here. But they stay in my son’s room (most of the time).

    windyridge’s last blog post..Drink 24 Oz of Beer in 24 Seconds

  21. 21 Kelly

    I’m so grateful you lived with a rat so I don’t have to! I’ve lived with mice, which are a little creepy… except after the cats get done with them, then they’re utterly disgusting.

    I grew up in Chicago, where the rats hung out in the sewers and subways, forming gangs and harassing innocent tourists. (The rats Canucklehead met in NY are the wimpy cousins of Chicago rats.) When the tourists proved to be less than completely entertaining, they’d sometimes forget themselves and start bothering the residents of that fair city. Stupid rats. There’d be a flurry of calls to “downtown” and the fine Daley Machine would beat them back. Gosh, I miss Chicago and those damn river rats. (Maybe not the rats so much.)

    One of the local sports teams here in Albany is called the River Rats (I think it’s the hockey team). I totally crack up every time I see or hear one of their advertisements!

    Kelly’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Winter Wonderland

  22. 22 Kathy

    Somebody got a rockin’ new blog header so I don’t have to! Looks awesome! Love the new colors and scheme!

    Tiny bubbles!

    Kathy’s last blog post..Kathy By the Numbers

  23. 23 Formerly Fun

    At least it was company. You should have fixed hima grilled cheese and gone back to bed.

    Formerly Fun’s last blog post..Sarah Jessica Parker Likes Hot Dogs on a Stick

  24. 24 ann of the shampoo bag

    Tell me again how you made your way to Ireland. I would never have the courage to move to another country all by myself. JD lived in Ireland so you don’t have to….

  25. 25 Marnee

    Baseball bats, and the subsequent blocking the event from your mind, work good.

    Just sayin’

  26. 26 JD

    Regan: Oh, most definitely. You’d get at LEAST a costarring role PLUS producer credit (for coming up with the idea). I might even let you walk the red carpet with me!

    windyridge: This sounds familiar. When were you in Dublin? Ireland in particular is a small world; if you had friends in DL while I was there (84-86), it’s a good bet I knew them. Caged rats are far preferable to “bagged rats.”

    Kelly: As you already know, I’m rather close in proximity to those Chicago river rats. Luckily none of them have made it this far north. Brrrrr. River rats…

    Kathy: And that someone is MEEEE! Thanks so much. I love it. I’ll be doing a formal unveiling over the weekend.

    Formerly Fun: Yeah, I was kind of lonely in those days. Maybe if I’d had my wits about me, I could have trained him to be one of my evil minions.

    ann of the shampoo bag: Oh, it was fun and scary and stupid. I’ll definitely blog about it one of these days. It was the result of a drunken conversation with college friends (“When I graduate, I’m going to live on a BOAT and travel the WORLD…”) only I really pursued it. So you don’t have to.

  27. 27 Tim

    I like the new look for your site. It is very bubbly and quirky, and maybe even a little cleaver.

  28. 28 Corrina

    Eeeek! This post gave me the heebie-jeebies. But, as always- SO funny. :-)

    P.S. I loooooooooove your header!!! Love, love, love!

    Corrina’s last blog post..MySpace Survey Fun

  29. 29 JD

    Marnee: As you can see, I haven’t been too successful with the blocking of the event from my mind. If only I’d had a baseball bat handy…

    Tim:Bubbly and quirky! Exactly what I was going for. Oh, and cleaver, too. Always cleaver.

    Corrina: I’m sorry you got heebie-jeebie’d! It was rather gross. And thank you! (a friend of mine recommended one of the graphic designers she works with)

  30. 30 Claudine

    I tiny mouse would have freaked me out, never mind a rat! I don’t know if I could have gone back into that apartment. I think that the run screaming back to the U.S. idea was an excellent option! I probably would have spent every cent that I had for a hotel and begged a neighbor to let me stay or SOMETHING!

  31. 31 Regan

    Oh, it would a big privledge towalk the red carpet with you! I bet they’d like our idea, too, since there’s so many other dumb movies coming out.

  32. 32 RT Cunningham | Arnel Pineda Journey

    Me and that big rat would’ve been wrestling. That is, after I kicked it in the head a few times.

    I do that with the stray dogs around here all the time. You never know when they wanna take a bite.

  33. 33 Canucklehead

    New layout is full of win!

  34. 34 Jeff

    Regan – You wouldn’t know this because it was decades before you were even born, but they made 2 semi successful movies about rats. The first one was called Ben and the sequel was called Willard. You should rent them.

    Bonus useless trivia… the theme song to Ben was sung by Michael Jackson.

    Bonus useless fact that shows how old I really am… I had the 45 to Ben.

    Bonus definition because you probably haven’t been to the Smithsonian… A 45 is a really small phonograph record.

  35. 35 Jeff

    Correction… the first one was Willard and the sequel was Ben. This sequence of events is extremely important to the continuity of the viewing experience.

  36. 36 JD

    Claudine: Those all sound like completely sensible options (especially running screaming back to the U.S.). You can be sure that nowadays, I would NOT put up with that sort of shenanigans!

    Regan: Right! At least ours is original (oops! See Jeff’s comment!)

    RT: Now I would have LOVED to see that. Come to think of it, the guy who cornered (or who was almost cornered himself) the rat was a bit of a wimp.

    Canucklehead: Thanks! We’re all winners here!

    Jeff: HA! Bonus tidbit to prove how lame I am: I actually rented Willard within the last year (the years have not been kind).

  37. 37 Regan

    Well, ours will be better because it’ll be starring JD! And it won’t be that long probably….

    Who actually makes movies about rats anyway?

  38. 38 JD

    Regan: No, it probably won’t be that long. Maybe we should just make a video?

  39. 39 What Do Snails Eat

    snails—they make much better friends.

    I agree!

  40. 40 Non Slip Stair Treads

    Oh. My. Gosh. That sounds terrible. And isn’t it ironic that sometimes the crappiest circumstances and events of our life often turn into the funniest memories? I’m glad your toes didn’t get eaten.

  41. 41 Wrestling Moves Kawada

    Wow, watch out for those rats! I’m glad you lived with one so I don’t have to now, haha.

  42. 42 Cougar Woman

    I have just been reading through your blog and LOVE it. I have a pet rat, who rocks, but I guess that is not the same thing at all.

    Cougar Woman’s last blog post..How to Tell If You Are a Cougar Woman

  43. 43 P. Veazey

    Just keep a pet cat and the rat will be killed in a few days.


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