Thursday, November 30, 2006
Though I'm at my desk on deadline tonight, I stop typing and turn around, trying to figure out where it is coming from.
It stops as I do, so I go back to typing. I hear it again.
I pause, turn around and survey the area while I wait for the sound to return. It's too intermittent to be anything benign. I know it has to be the office pet.
And he's in my stuff.
As journalists, it's almost in our job description to have food at our desks. When news breaks, you don't have time to run to your local salad bar and pick up something nurtritious. So we keep snacks on hand. A roll of crackers on the shelf. Some granola bars in the bottom drawer. A bag of Skittles in your pencil drawer.
These are completely necessary midday snacks that help to sustain many journalists during a hard day of reporting the news, but are just as appealing to our four legged friends of the rodent variety.
Yes, I'm talking about mice.
I have yet to go to a newsroom where there are no mice. In a building with hundreds of people and food floating around all the time, there are bound to be some pets. Companies ban food from cubicles in an effort to curb the rodent population. Managers tell you to call maintenance when you see "evidence" of one.
Besides an errant dropping here or there, I hadn't had to deal with one personally yet. I listened sympathetically while my coworkers told of crackers with teeth marks in them, or candy bars destined for the trash after the office mouse got a hold of them. I had been spared until now.
I sat very still as I tried to pinpoint where the sound was coming from.
A mix of panic and dread set in when I realized it was coming from my bookbag up against the wall.
The bag has been there for some time. I used it when I left my old office to pack my rations in. A can of soup. Some cough drops. An old Pop-Tart I found in my drawer. I kept meaning to unpack it but just never got around to it.
The sound stops. I clear my throat.
My mind races as I try to figure out what to do. Obviously, the mouse is in my bookbag, eating the Pop-Tart. Maybe I can zip the bookbag up and throw it away, thereby getting rid of ...
"AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH," a high pitched sound I didn't know I could make comes bursting from my mouth.
Oh. My. Goodness.
The mouse just climbed out of my bookbag and ran away.
It was at least as long as a stapler. Okay, at least as big as a Rolodex card.
I've climbed off of my chair now, but I still can't seem to stop itching. I just keep imagining it crawling up my leg. Or on my arm. Or in my hair.
Guess I'll give my desk a deep cleaning tomorrow since I don't want Jerry or any of his cousins feeling too at home in my cubicle.
And the first thing to go is that bookbag. continue...