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.