Not that long ago, I wrote about a phantom mouse that, apparently, was hanging around one of our distribution centers. Now there might have been one or there might have been plenty, but a nasty little trap in the women’s washroom was at the ready should it (or they) make an appearance.
We have a small division that makes controls and instrumentation for heavy manufacturing plants. I met up with the general manager and his senior engineers in a small conference room. The building was on a canal and I guess it should have been no surprise to anyone that there was an on-going problem with rodents. Unlike our warehouse in Boise, this building was old and seedy. All manner of unseemly creatures, some tiny and some rather large, made it their home. Call it the crumbly brick menagerie.
As we talked, a large field mouse skittered across the room, hugging the wall as it ran. Followed by another just seconds later. Hither and thither they went. At one point, I thought I felt something brush against my shoe and I leapt up with a start. The others stared at me. I apologized and sat down, peering surreptitiously under the table as I did. Nothing. And then one of the engineers jumped up. I heard the GM say shit under his breath. He called out to his secretary. “Abbie! Would you kindly rid of the damned things”.
She cornered one of the critters and deftly plucked it by its tail.
She obviously could hear him from her office, right through the cheap paneling. She came in with a shoebox. We all stood up and stood back and let the master mouser do her thing. Abbie cornered one of the critters, knelt and deftly plucked it by its tail. She dropped it into the box. This was repeated several times. It did not take long for the box to be a squiggling mass of varmints.
Abbie took the box with her to the garage, opened the door and set the mice free. They scurried off, thrilled at their newfound freedom, basking in the warm, sunny day.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, perhaps a cloud, likely a tree, a large bird flew down and scooped up one of the mice. Then another. Abbie was horrified. The surviving mice ran this way and that. Abbie quickly chased down the other mice, plopping them, one by one, in her shoebox.
She brought them back into the garage, closed the door and set them free again. They scurried off, thrilled at their being home again. The winged sirens of freedom and the intoxication of a warm. sunny day no longer beckoned.
I returned to the conference room, on the lookout now, expecting company.
I do admire Abbie’s caring for all of God’s little creatures. But then I recall Hillaire Belloc’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek advisory to bad children:
I had an aunt in Yucatan
Who bought a python from a man
And kept if for a pet.
She died because she never knew
These simple little rules and few:
The snake is living yet.