Of Mice and Men

“Omigod!” Julie, one of the waitresses shrieks. “A mouse!”

“Where?” I ask.

“Right there,” Julie says, pointing to the floor. “Stuck in the glue trap!”

I look down. Stuck on a piece of adhesive cardboard next to the dishwasher is a small brown and white field mouse. It’s looking up at us, making little squeaking noises, clearly frightened out of its tiny mind.

“It’s still alive,” Julie groans.

“Dammit,” I say. “Why can’t this place buy mouse traps that snap their necks?”

“That’s even worse,” Julie whimpers.

“I’d rather deal with a dead mouse than a trapped live one.”

“Will you get rid of it?” Julie pleads.

“How?”

“Can’t you peel it off the paper?”

“I think that would do more harm than good.”

“We can’t just leave it there.”

I look down at the mouse. It’s rolled onto its side where the glue’s gotten a real hold of him. The rodent’s squeaks increase in intensity as he wiggles on the paper desperately trying to free himself. Glue traps are the cruelest way to catch a mouse. Inwardly I curse the owner for selecting such an inhumane solution to his rodent problem. It could take days for the mouse to die. He’ll probably gnaw off his leg or rip open his skin trying to free himself.

“I’ll take care of it Julie,” I say.

“How?” she replies.

“Don’t worry about it.”

“I don’t want to know,” Julie says, throwing up her hands and walking out the door. “I can’t stand watching animals suffer.”

After Julie leaves I grab a linen napkin, pick up the glue board holding the mouse, and take my shrieking cargo to the back alley. Once outside I crouch down and examine the trapped rodent. I give the mouse a gentle prod and it screeches in pain, defecating on itself in the process. I feel a dull ache spread across my chest. The mouse is really stuck. I don’t know how to free it from the trap without hurting it. I also have a party of thirty people coming in ten minutes. I’ve got plenty of work to do.

Placing the mouse gently down on the pavement, I note the position of its head and cover it with the linen napkin. Standing up I raise my right foot high into the air and drive it down on the mouse with as much force as I can generate.

The squeaking stops.

Just in case the mouse isn’t dead I stomp it again, grinding my heel as I do so. Hopefully the mouse felt nothing. Hopefully it was merciful and quick. Fighting off a twinge of nausea I pick up the glue trap and put it in the garbage.

“What’d you do with it?” Julie asks as I walk back into the restaurant.

“I killed it.”

“How?”

“Quickly,” I mutter.

“Oh well,” Julie says, looking relieved. “It had to be done.”

“Yeah,” I reply, slightly angry about what just happened. “But so much for Women’s Lib.”

“Huh?” Julie says, befuddled.

“Whenever something needs killing you girls get all helpless and ask a man to do it.”

“It’s a man’s job,” Julie retorts.

“So you’re equal in the board room and the bedroom, but not when it comes to taking care of some of life’s more unpleasant tasks?”

“I think you’re reading into this too much,” Julie says.

“Perhaps,” I reply. “But I still feel like the kid who had to shoot Old Yeller.”

“And Old Yeller had rabies,” Julie says. “And God knows what that mouse was carrying.”

“True,” I say. “But you get to kill the next mouse Gloria Steinem.”

“No way,” Julie says. “I’ll act like a helpless female whenever it’s to my advantage.”

“Whatever,” I say. “I guess a man’s still gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

“C’mon,” Julie says. “We’ve got to set up for that party.”

“Let me wash my hands first.”

I head into the bathroom and lather my hands in hot soapy water. As I’m running my hands under the tap a bothersome thought pops into my head. Did I kill that mouse because it was the right thing to do or did I kill it because I couldn’t stand to see it suffer? If I could ask the mouse to evaluate my handling of the situation, what would his reaction be? He might be unhappy I decided to crush his head so quickly. As I dry my hands I examine my face in the mirror. I shake my head in disgust. Sometimes I over think things.

“Get over yourself,” I say to my reflection. “It was just a fucking mouse.”

I go out and finish helping Julie set up for the party. Any negative feelings I had about killing the mouse disappear in a few minutes. Yeah, he might have been a cute little thing, but he’s got a thousand siblings waiting to take his a place. Carriers of filth and disease, mice have no place in a restaurant. There’s nothing cute about Hantavirus. A rodent problem can shut a restaurant down for a long time. For the common good they’ve got to go.

When it comes to mice, a man’s still gotta do what a man’s gotta do.


Comments

Of Mice and Men — 21 Comments

  1. Glue traps are extremely inhumane, and they really need to be made illegal. Live traps are the best way to go.
    Actually, the best way to go is to just keep the damn place clean. If all food is closed up properly and the floors are swept/hosed/vacuumed nightly, there should be no problem at all. (I speak from experience here)

    Also, mice are actually very clean animals. They’re also intelligent and individuals.

    It’s true, they shouldn’t be in restaurants, but they don’t need to be viewed as pests and horrible creatures just because people make their places inviting habitats to rodents out of sheer laziness.

    But, I will commend you for being able to kill the poor dear quickly. He shouldn’t have had to die, but since you didn’t know how to free him, I think it was the best answer.

  2. I was in the same situation a couple of years ago. While I still worked at the bank, we had a rodent problem. Same thing as your restaraunt: glue traps. I worked with a bunch of women, and none of them wanted to deal with the mice caught on one of the traps. So I took them outside and tried to free them. One was only partially glued and I thought I might be able to free it. With a stick I tried, but I could see it would tear its skin and possibly break its leg to do so. I knew I had no choice but to put them out of their misery. The one thing I hate to do more than anything is to kill things. I won’t even kill a spider or bee in my house. I grabbed a large stone and killed them as quickly as possible. It bothered me for the rest of the day.

  3. This was a thoughtful post & I appreciate your pain at what you had to do. I also believe that you did what had to be done in the most humane way possible. Those sound like awful traps, I hadn’t even heard of that kind!
    As to the man/women thing, I’m a woman, & kept pet hamsters as a child. For some reason mice do seem to cause a very primal reaction in many women. I still “shriek” at a mouse, even stood on a chair once with my mother when we happened upon a mouse unexpectedly in her home. I felt dumb & foolish, but there you are. You are to be commended for what you did for your female co-workers. We sometimes can’t help it. I like a man who will take care of things of that nature. Hate to admit to that, but its true. Women appreciate that in men. Sorry! Anyway, you’re awesome, dude..

  4. You didn’t seem to have a problem with traditional gender roles when you left the waitress at the Bistro to clean a toddler’s poopy behind. I’m just sayin’.

  5. Liz, I hate to tell you, but even if you keep the cleanest place in the world, you can still get the occassional mouse or rat wandering in. And while rodents kept as pets can be clean, street rodents are rarely safe.

  6. I had to do EXACTLY the same thing once. Luckily I was drunk and had heavy shoes on.

    No way those poor little critters are getting out of a glue trap…

  7. Liz,
    Will all due respect, you’re wrong about mice being clean animals. They are actually worse than rats when it comes to the diseases they spread.
    But glue traps should be outlawed.

  8. I found this blog after the Post reviewed your book in Sunday’s Bookworld. I’ve been reading through most of it pretty quickly. I don’t usually read blogs regularly, but I’m very impressed with this one, and I’m definitely going to pick up your book. I used to hostess/waitress, and I can relate to the minute by minute frustrations you’re talking about.

    I had to comment when I found this old post, though. I caught a mouse in one of those traps when I was alone in my apartment about six months ago, and thinking about it still bothers me. I had never considered that it would die on the traps – we had gone so long with those stupid things that I didn’t think we’d ever catch one. I tried to pull the helpless female card with another guy in the apartment with absolutely no luck, though, but it was below freezing outside so I took it to the trash can across the street and hoped it would freeze to death with as little pain as possible. This still bothers me, though maybe it’s stupid that it does.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say I think it was really good of you to do what you did for the mouse and for your fellow server, who isn’t necessarily squeamish because she’s a woman, but she was squeamish all the same, so. The first thing I did after I caught my mouse was go to Duane Reade to buy some of those traps that snap their neck. They also snap your toes if you’re not paying attention, though!

  9. vegetable oil all over the poor thing. loosens him right up and gives him a good snack to boot.

    but those damn glue traps are really too inhumane.

  10. God, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I can be the super bitch all day at work, but would probably be brought to tears to see the poor mouse in such pain. It was kind of you to deal with it.

  11. Then again, when it comes to childbirth, labour and breastfeeding, a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do (not to mention menstruation throughout most of her entire life and a social obsession with beauty that drives women to bulemia or anorexia).
    While I sympathize with your plight, and as the former kennels manager of a pet store I’ve had to deal with this situation more times that you could possibly imagine, there are a lot of inequalities that go the OTHER way. ;) Just saying.

  12. I shared a loft in SoHo with a slovenly couple who also kept parrots. I cannot even begin to tell you the level of filth in that apartment. To top it off, the building was being rsurfaced, so all the dormant animals were shaken up. That loft was ALIVE with mice and cockroaches. We had a massive supply of glue traps (we were poor and they were cheap), and I had several in my room. Whenever a mouse would get caught in one, I would take the trap to the kitchen, fill a pot with water, and submerge the glue trap upside down. I felt like a mass murderer, but I knew leaving them to die on the trap was even worse. But I took care of them myself.

    There was one task I left to the man of the house, though: the couple were not as diligent in checking the traps, and occasionally the sickly-sweet smell of decomposing animal flesh would greet my nose. I always made the husband deal with those traps!

  13. Oh please, if you think that because a girl couldn’t kill a mouse means that women’s lib is debunked you obvioulsy don’t understand what women were fighting for. Women only wanted recognition for doing the same jobs men were…and the right to freakin vote. Just keep in mind, there are many things that women must do, that men can’t stomach either.

  14. with respect to liz,
    mice are not clean creatures as they constantly leak urine. they do this as a communication trail to other mice. this alone is enough reason to not want them in a kitchen environment.

  15. i had an office mate who had a mice infestation once. after the mice gnawed through 5 of his long sleeved shirts, 3 jeans, 3 tee shirts, a carton of vitamins and his supply of bread, any trace of mercy in him for the mice disappeared. he used glue traps to catch them (all 3 of them) and, well, lets just say he didnt exactly make the killing quick.

  16. you get lots of field mice in your house if you live out in the country… I’ve never seen as many mice in my live as I have the last two years I’ve lived in this place. normally they’re around mostly in the winter looking for food and warmth, but I can’t stand them.
    I kept hamsters as a kid, and i think they’re cute as hell, but when they walk all over my silverware, and utensils pissing and shitting, and once a week I’m forced to just about boil everything in my drawers, i pull out the mouse traps, and have my husband set them. I can’t do it, everytime I wind up having it snap the tip of my finger. once it left a dent in my nail so badly, once it grew out, it broke right over the dent. But if I find one in the trap I grab a paper towel, grab the tail, and pry the little guy out of the trap and throw it off into the woods for the stray cats and whatever else to eat.
    I have a cat that’s still learning to be a mouser… however, the last one, he didn’t finish the job properly. he left the head on the kitchen floor as a “present”
    yuck.

  17. I’m a girl and use my girlyness to my advantage sometimes, but only with my friends. However, I understand what you did, and I have done the same. My cats, being the torturers they are have provided me with too many situations like this where I have to make the decision about what I am going to do.
    It is never a comforting thought to unwillingly have ultimate control over someone or somethings life, but, in the end, we have to make a decision. You made the right choice

  18. Damnit. I’m a girl and I’m the one who always ends up killing all the mice at my bar. Why? Because the boys leave them lying around so that they can say to staff just starting their shifts “Go look at our new pet in the office!”

    I drown them though. It’s maybe not quicker but I’ve never managed to kill them by stomping/whacking them with barstools. They just get maimed-er.

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