Sunday, July 6, 2008

Coworkers: Part 22 - Crunch

   The first announcement was a scream. Loud, piercing, girlie scream from the Ladies Restroom.
   Stephanie, Amster, Kathy, one of the part timers.
   First witness to the mouse.

   The "celebrate diversity" store ethos flew out the window. Nothing to celebrate about vermin. Especially, as more rodent-experienced crew members advised, if the vermin was female, loaded with babies. An infestation would explode within months.
   Everyone knew once customers saw mouses, they would become ex customers in a drop dead heartbeat. Worse, where there was mouse, there was rat. Rats carried rabies. They attacked other creatures, they swarmed in packs and devoured humans whole. They swiped helpless babies from carriages, dragged them down, down, to their deepest pits, and then ...
   The mouse probably wandered in by accident and discovered a treasure trove.
   Crumbs, corn chip fragments, bits of candy bar, fried chicken, pizza crusts. Coworkers were messy eaters. Desks held bags of potato chips, candy corn, peanuts, ancient Valentine candy. Dan had his pile of stuff on the floor. Rob and I had boxes nailed to the wall, from whence they tumbled every time the A/C leaked.
   The Office, Money Room, Backroom, Break Area, we were a vast, super-mouseket bonanza.
   In all likelihood, the mouse, a scout, would alert other mouses. They would set up pawn shops, crack houses, gambling dens, vermin brothels, gun outlets, sex barns. No one would shop at our store anymore. Closing managers would be overwhelmed once they switched off the lights. City officials, in their infinite wisdom, would decide there was only one solution. Sound Warehouse would have to be burned to the ground.

   The intruder was a small, gray field mouse. Beatrix Potter type. Everyone saw it. The creature was terrified out of its mind.
   All too predictably, the building landlord did absolutely nothing. The national pest agency, with whom the chain had an insect control contract, pointed out that a rodent, however small, was not a bug and, therefore, not their problem.
   We were on our own.
   The girls wanted the visitor caught and released somewhere. The Botanic Gardens, an island resort, maybe a retirement place for homeless mouses. Some decided the scuttling furball was cute. Stacey joked it could be the store pet. Most of the guys wanted the mouse killed. D-E-A-D. Rob, Todd, Greg, João, Derek, myself, we baited and set traps. We hid poison. Dan, James, and John were less medieval.
   Didn't matter. By now, the mouse had become wary.
   And it had developed preferences. It had become a crack addict.
   Rather, a crunch addict. One food became the overwhelming favorite.
   Nestlé Crunch bars.
   Every morning, we found foil wrapper pieces by Video checkout. The impulse counter.
   Obviously, the mouse was impulsive. It also did not pay.
   We relocated the Crunch bars to the highest shelf.
   Next morning ... mouses were excellent climbers, we discovered.
   Removed all Nestlé products. At closing, set a half dozen spring traps and bait boxes under the candy rack.
   Success.
   Well ... we didn't exactly see the mouse. But all activity stopped.
   Week later, the Nestlé Crunch row at the front registers was attacked.
   Bastard.
   We rarely spied it thereafter.
   Two months later, we found it by the Sound Check posts. Grossly overweight, the size of a tennis ball. Expired.
   The perils of an improper diet. Thus ends a cautionary tale.
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