The Ex-terminator


So, we called around, holiday weekend and all. Orkin wanted $269, starting price. Another place wanted $150. Finally we found a local place that would do it for between $95 and $140. And they would come right away. Hallelujah.

By 3:15 the cats were getting hungry and giving me disgusted looks at the closed door that separated them from their food, so I snuck in for the food bag–their regular bowl was aswarm with yellow jackets–and gave them a small bowl of food on this side of the buzzing door with the sign that read “Do NOT open!” lest anyone forget what lay–flew–on the other side. Both my cats were born on the same day as I was, and they have many of my stubborn Taurus tendencies; had they been able to work the knob, I have no doubt they would have been in there attempting to eat around the bugs.

The exterminator arrived around 3:30. He was a young guy, very polite, and covered with tattoos and piercings. There was a large celtic cross on his left forearm, a ring of flames blazing from his right wrist up to his elbow, and several more that I could see disappearing under his sleeve or peeking out from his neckline. He had a short buzzed haircut and at least three silver hoops in one earlobe (I forgot to look at the other). Suffice it to say, the man obviously has a fondness for things piercing his skin, so it seemed perfectly natural that he would be here to rid me of a hive of stinging creatures.

He was fearless. He sprayed in the laundry room (after I removed the clean stuff, shaking off the yellow jackets first) and then shut the door, phase one complete.

Phase two involved spraying the nest from outside, squatting low (hoping, no doubt, to be less noticeable), swatting them away from his head, spraying again, studying, spraying, studying, spraying. The whole thing looked very Zen from inside my closed second-story window. Then he applied a powder, statically charged, that would cling to the opening and to the yellow jackets. He said, “They groom themselves like cats, so they will ingest the powder when they try to clean it off.” Who knew? Yellow jackets are like cats. Huh.

I still don’t like them.

But the exterminator? Him, I like. My new favorite person. Thank you, Mr. Pierce Tattoo. You have saved us from the yellow jacket hordes. And in my case, from myself.

Later that evening, I vacuumed up 487 yellow jacket carcasses, some still twitching ominously. What? Of course I counted, are you kidding?

And I went to a party later that night and discovered that infestation stories are like pregnancy stories: everybody’s got one. I heard about the man whose living room wall began to buzz and then finally to drip honey, about the family whose living room ceiling fell in on them, overburdened by a huge nest of wasps…it actually made my story seem sort of lame. But at least I had the physical evidence to top them–I had my swollen wrist, my war wound. And I had the numbers. 487. Read ’em and weep, baby. Read ’em and weep.