I am not a fan of killing living things. I suppose if I had to fend for myself in a strange environment, I might be able to find my inner Bear Grylls, or maybe not. For ultra urban me a strange environment is not the woods, since I am more likely to find myself on planet Neptune than in a place full of dirt and packed with trees that prohibit cell phone use. For me, a strange environment is a suburban shopping mall without a multiplex, if there is such a thing. I am sure I could find something to eat in any mall, and maybe even a restaurant serving a decent Pinot Noir. Therefore, I would not need to chow down insects or drink my own urine in an effort to survive while vomiting.
Occasionally, a waterbug comes up through my bathroom’s drain, and I do kill those, but if I encounter a spider or a ladybug, I would capture them and put them out the window. Mosquitoes and flies would be subject to the same harsh fate as the waterbug, so I admit when I have a bug visitor, I do not treat all insects equally.
From time to time sparrows or pigeons perch on the sill outside my window. They don’t disturb me at all, but if one were to make it’s way into my apartment, I’d likely lose every ounce of cool, and toss such a fit, I might need sedation.
What would disturb me just as much as a bird flying in my sanctum sanctorum would be a lurking rodent. Years ago, when I was a student at Not Yet Useful, I heard rustling in my roommate’s half of our dorm room. She was out so the lights were off. I was in my room reading. I got up to investigate when I saw a rat’s two shiny black eyes making contact with mine. We both stood frozen for what seemed like four days, but it was probably closer to four tenths of a second. Then, the rat darted one way back into her room, and I ran out the door, which closed behind me. Brilliantly I locked myself out.
Recently, while in the bathroom at work, I had an encounter with a centipede on the wall. Centipedes are safe with me. While I was peeing, it appeared to be sleeping. After completing my visit, I went to my desk, retrieved my camera, and returned to the bathroom where I photographed the slumbering crawler. I took several shots with and without flash. All were lousy, but it never flinched. Obviously, it was a sound sleeper – just like me. I returned to my desk thinking:
Me: Huh. Who knew I have something in common with a centipede?
A few hours later, I was feeling bored. Greg, my sidekick, was sitting at his desk fighting a coma while typing tile labels. I approached him with my camera.
Me: Want to see some crummy pictures I shot?
Greg (regaining consciousness): Sure!
I flipped through my photos of our department’s centipede.
Greg: Hey, I killed that.
Me (horrified): Why?
Greg: Under Ling asked me to.
Me: How’d you do it?
Greg: With a piece of toilet paper, and then my foot after it fell.
It disturbed me to think that my very own 21C (Evelyn Waugh-speak for second-in-command) had been enlisted to perform this execution of my kindred spirit as it slept so peacefully against the bathroom wall. There it was, possibly having a lovely dream when suddenly, it was bludgeoned, squished, stomped and then the final humiliation, flushed.
I glanced at Ling’s sidekick, Under Ling, sitting at her desk, working in a fog of boredom. Under Ling’s a sweet soul, and I reasoned that centipedes are simply on her creepy crawly death wish list. Next time I encounter a centipede in the bathroom, I’ll make sure to chuck it out the window … where it will probably be promptly eaten by a pigeon.