I knew that city living would come with many new experiences and at some point I would cross paths with the worst kind of city dweller, rats. I had a plan that when this inevitable experience would occur I would have a cool, calm, and city girl collected reaction. The English are known for their ability to refrain from showing any kind of emotion and maintain composure in all situations. I was determined that I would assimilate into the English culture with my reaction to my first meeting with my fellow city dweller.
What I didn’t expect was that first rat and I would see each other on the 2nd night in my new flat, in a very dark hallway. My reaction couldn’t have been further from cool, calm and collected. Once the rat and I locked eyes a sound came from my mouth that I didn’t know I could create. A squeal doesn’t adequately describe it because it was higher pitched and more pathetic sounding than I know was possible. My body flung itself into the air in the most ungraceful like position. Arms flailing, legs like they were trying to swim in the air and if I could look in the mirror I am sure that my facial expression was something that only a mother could love. I’d like to think it was the eye contact that really got me. That rat looked at me like he knew it was my first time and he was going to savor the moment.
After I rationalized with myself that just like a shark, they are more afraid of you than you are of them, I ran up the stairs as quickly as possible and blocked the bottom of my door with a towel.
I was determined never to have that reaction again, so my strategy when entering my flat building after dark became to alert the rat of my presence as early as possible to give him enough time to relocate to his territory. This meant slamming the front door, turning on all the lights (aka turning on the flashlight function on my phone) and stomping in place for a solid 30 seconds. I then proceeded to stomp my way up the two flights of stairs as quickly as possible until I found refuge behind my door. As you can guess, the neighbors love me.
My strategy worked until one night when the rat decided to mix things up.
Every time we saw each other he was roaming the ground floor and with my booming entrance, he would obediently find his way into that little hole in the wall he called home. Just as I thought I had the cool, calm, city girl reaction down…he appeared on the 1st floor landing in clear defiance of the unspoken agreement of the territory lines that had been drawn. I squealed like a little girl, nearly fell backward down the narrow flight of stairs and then lost all decency that I had gained from my previous redemption.
It was at this point that I realized I will never be cool enough to have a stoic reaction when I see that long tail and beady eyes, moving around unpredictably across my path.
Of course, once I had come to terms with the fact that every entrance into my flat building at night would include an embarrassing squeal emitting from my mouth, the rat disappeared. I think that once the element of surprise left our interactions he became unsatisfied and left to find a new unsuspecting victim.
To that person, I hope that you find your reaction to meeting my hallway rat is a tiny bit more dignified than mine. To the rat, I hope you never come back again.