Saturday 26 November 2011 Blog V: Mice

Fact: Edinburgh is a city. Further fact: cities have mice. Furthest fact: you will encounter mice while in Edinburgh. At the beginning of term my residence associate, Katie, told my flatmates and myself that practically every building in Edinburgh has mice and as the weather gets colder and wetter the mice tend to come indoors more. At that point the weather was beautiful and warm and every year before this I had been warned of mice in University accommodation and hadn’t had a problem, so the fear was minimal. But as I recently discovered; Edinburgh is not Fort Collins, it is a big city and with big cities come many vermin infesting the whole of every building. My story begins (though as of yet has no ending) last Friday night (18 November) when I was sitting in my kitchen with my mates Ghaz and Paula discussing the usual hot topic: boys (though lately like the weather that topic has become cold). It was probably about half six in the evening and we were all relatively burnt out; I had just recovered from food poisoning the day before and Ghaz and Paula were just tired from staying up late with homework and partying that Wednesday; so the chatting was minimal and there were long periods of silence. Ghaz had just finished cooking enough food for a small army and I was considering whether or not I should eat my soup now or later, when suddenly in the middle of a nothing conversation Ghaz looks over at our heaping pile of recyclables and says “Oh my God a mouse” she then went on to describe how it had come out of one of our many pizza boxes that we had piled against the trash , saw us then turned back to hide in the boxes, though she said it in a rather calm and conversational way as if her brain had not yet registered what she had just witnessed. This statement was then proceeded by all of us slowly but quickly (I remember it in a slow motion type manner) standing on our chairs and Paula opting to kneel on the table (it was quite a hoot I must say and I really wish that I had pictures). This is the point when the panic set in –queue screaming and girlish whimpering. At this point we were all freaked out, both Ghaz and Paula had seen the mouse, and we were trying to figure out what to do because it was still in the kitchen cowering from us as we were cowering from it. Finally, Ghaz’s head cleared a bit from the fear of it all and she decided to call our friend Lucas who lives two floors down because, and I quote, “he is a big and burly man” who would be a perfect individual to come and save our day. Right after she hung up with him we realized that we should call the RA hotline so that whoever was on duty could come and help us, since that is one of the things they are supposed to do. Well the RA who was on duty just so happened to be the building’s cutie; Andy, which made the night that much better. So in the course of five minutes we had seen a mouse, mounted the table and chairs, and called two boys to our rescue, at this point we were feeling a bit better about the whole thing until we came to the realization that someone would have to let Andy and Lucas in the flat since the only inhabitants were stuck on the kitchen table. Someone would have to sacrifice themselves. When the knock on the door sounded throughout the empty flat moments later, Ghaz took action and decided to sacrifice herself. This could be the moment that I describe how nobly she quitted her dining room chair and walked head held high down the hall to the kitchen door, but this would be a complete fabrication and to a point I like to keep things honest and the honest truth is that she leapt down from her chair and proceeded to run down the hall to the kitchen door screaming, you read that right, she screamed all the way to the door, it was hilarious. There was a moment of silence after her dramatic exit which was quickly broken by Andy walking in, closely followed by Ghaz who then jumped back up onto her chair. We must’ve been quite a sight and to be honest, though I was freaked out, I was also having a nice laugh about the whole thing. A minute or so after Andy’s arrival there was another knock at the door, Lucas, Andy volunteered to go and let him in, I figure he got the idea that we didn’t want to move from our ‘safe’ perches upon our chairs. My feeling of patheticness increased ten-fold when Lucas walked in looking calm and cool while we were all whimpering on the kitchen table. Though it was interesting neither Lucas nor Andy mentioned how entertaining it was that we were all standing on the chairs rather Lucas just looked at our heaping mound of recycling and said: “well no wander you have mice”, thank you captain obvious. We had been meaning to get rid of it for near a month, in fact, that next day I had been planning to just take it all myself (to give an idea of how much recycling there was imagine two months-worth of plastic, aluminium, and glass from four people, it was climbing up our wall, literally, staking it became an art). Anyway, Andy and Lucas then got down to business and slowly began to move the five or so pizza boxes (which had been there for a month or more. I, for one, don’t know where they came from or why they were there, it seems they were just always there as if they were part of the kitchen) when finally they came upon the cowering baby mouse that was about as big as a two year olds hand, this is really when the embarrassment set in. Both boys commented on how small the mouse was and there was an implied “really come on girls”. At this point the mouse was cornered so Andy set to work trying to find something to catch the mouse in so that he could remove it from our flat, he had just decided to use Ghaz’s strainer and was in the process of trying to coax it into the bowl when the mouse decided to act and bolted from the kitchen provoking a squeal from all three of us. Andy and Lucas immediately followed it out and Paula, Ghaz and I proceeded to remove ourselves from our perches. About a minute or so later Andy and Lucas returned and told us that the mouse ran straight down the hall and our the front door (which thinking back on this statement doesn’t seem plausible because a) the bottom of the front door is covered in bristles so that nothing can go under it, and b) why would it go to the front door and bypass the six other doors it would pass on its way out?). No matter the excuse we were all happy that the mouse was just out, supposedly, of our flat. Lucas then left and Andy assisted us with bagging up all of our recycling to take it immediately to the trash. We then all parted ways and breathed a sigh of relief that the whole ordeal was done, but if you know anything about foreshadowing and a good story you know that it didn’t end that easily. When Ghaz and I returned to our flat I felt the remnants of a ghost, not a literal ghost of course but rather one that had been waiting to pop up for a while now, the ghost of a mouse encounter (note: I am terrified of mice, for me they symbolise and invasion and destruction of control because sometimes even when you try really hard to keep them out they will still come, especially when you live in a big building like South Clerk Street). Anyway, the best way I could find to make the ghost disappear and myself relax was to clean my room (I am an obsessive cleaner, in my room everything has its place and is always organised) and I decided that the best place to begin was to vacuum because not only would it make noise which would scare away other mice but it would also clean up the two or three crumbs on my floor. So I began my normal vacuum routine of moving my chair and other things that sit on the floor into the hall so that I could get everything, but when I moved aside my laundry basket in the farthest corner of my room I noticed an unusually large and dark shadow looking back at me. It took me only a moment to realize that it wasn’t a shadow but a mouse in the corner of my room!!! Right when this realization hit I screamed, saw the mouse bolt from its corner right before I turned and ran from my room screaming. Immediately Ghaz, who was in the toilet, asked what was wrong (she later said that she was scared that I had badly injured myself because my scream was so scary that it made her blood run cold and Paula told me that she heard me scream in her flat two floors down). At that point I was so traumatised that all I really did was lean against the wall next to the front door shaking and near tears, Ghaz quickly came out of the toilet and I told her that there was a mouse in my room. Immediately she called Andy again and within a minute he was back at our door, I pointed him in the direction of my room and momentarily poked my head in to show him where the mouse had been before I ran from the room and left him to it. While he was in my room banging around with my umbrella to try and coax it from where ever it was hiding, Ghaz and I stood in the hall. About five minutes later Andy popped his head out of my room and comments that he thinks he may have broken the mouse’s back legs because while he was looking for it he moved my bookcase closer to my desk and apparently it had been between those two pieces and he heard a squeak immerge from it. So with the mouse not moving he asked for a box to place it in, after receiving the box he returned to the task at hand and I asked Ghaz for the RA hotline number because we both realized that if this had happened and no one had had the number than we would’ve been in a sorrier state than we were in. I told her to just text me the number and we soon heard the sound of my phone going off with her text. A moment later, Andy emerges from my room and reports that the mouse can actually move and he was inches from getting it into the box when my phone went off, scared it, and it leapt from the box. While he is telling us this he was walking towards us and I was terrified that he was going to throw in the towel and leave (which I would understand but I wasn’t about to let him leave, in fact, I was determined to not allow him to leave until he had gotten that mouse out of my room) but he was actually just going call another RA for some backup because when the mouse would run away he would lose sight of it. While we were waiting for his backup to arrive Ghaz went into her room to call her mom and Andy broke the awful truth to me: apparently when the mouse had run from our kitchen it had disappeared by the time he and Lucas had come out so instead of freaking us out and telling us that it could be anywhere in the flat they decided to just lie and say that it ran out the front door. He definitely paid for that the next day with some verbal abuse and joking. At that moment there was a knock at the door with Andy’s backup and our other RA, Katie, standing at the ready to help and Katie to hang in the hall with Ghaz and I. Both boys (his backup was another male RA) went into my room to continue the hunt. After this things quickly came to a conclusion, the only time Andy came out was to ask if he could get on my bed to do and aerial attack (no joke he really did say that) and next thing we know both boys are coming out of my room with the box and a bag over it and the announcement that they had caught the mouse. Now I have never seriously referred to a guy as my knight in shining armour but I will right now and forever back up this statement, that Andy is truly my knight in shining armour because not only did he come when we called the first time but also he returned and chased a mouse around my room for nearly 40 or so minutes trying to catch it (he was absolutely drenched in sweat when he came out at the end). Not only is he my knight but he is also quite talented for catching a baby mouse; I just figured it would run out of my room and go into the one of the closets (apparently that is where they come from because of all the openings to let pipes and stuff through). And thus concluded my first official mouse encounter, which I find interesting because I spent my entire childhood with mice in my house and there were always mice in the dorms that I resided in both Freshman and Sophomore year of university. This year has been full of some un-delightful firsts. It seems crazy to think that the whole ordeal was only a week and a day ago. Though I am still a bit on edge about the whole thing, on Wednesday the pest guy came to put in traps and our kitchen is now spotless with signs all around instructing everyone to immediately clean up food and don’t allow the trash or recycling to overflow, but, I am still haunted by the whole ordeal. Every night when I get home I kick around my room to make sure nothing is hiding in it (though my room is not only frigidly cold but is also void of warm hiding places and food remnants) and since Sunday I can hear the rodents scurrying around in my ceiling (they live in the walls of the building and are often heard). But I have discovered the cure to scampering mice in ceiling anxiety, earplugs. After four straight nights of not sleeping due to anxiety about the scurrying sounds that would most definitely come, I was struck with the idea of earplugs and can now breathe easier because now I won’t (hopefully) hear them while I sleep. Vermin are everywhere in Edinburgh and everyone has a mouse in their house story. So when studying in Edinburgh you will most definitely have a mouse story of your own (unless you are incredibly lucky) but you may not be lucky enough to have an RA like Andy who will not quite until the mouse is removed from your flat; no RA I know back in the States would ever do something like that.