Service Story #37: Treating the Orkin Man
Produced on Nov 30 and Dec 6 in Vancouver, WABy Chessjuan and Danielle M.
“So they’re already spraying for bugs and trying to sell you a clean out before they solved the rat problem you called about?”
“Yeah, like I said..” Chess laughed. “They’re horrible.”
I am Wilderness Security Guide, the Customer Service Character in charge of rodent services for Storysold: Pest Control.
More than simply being the best sidekicks any homemaking hero can ask for, our small team of pest industry rebels have been slowly, methodically, developing an appropriate way to control human infestations.
Yes, we know. “Treating human infestations” sounds crazy and some what genocidal at first read. Don’t worry. In spite of the fact that our human host Jake was trained by the US Marines to kill humans (blindfolded with his barehands), we generally make it our policy to not trap, bait, or kill humans, especially customers.
Without going into the gritty details of how we’re planning/plotting our control of human pestilence, the nuts of it is this: HUMANS ARE CONTROLLED BY VERY SMALL, AUTONOMOUS CREATURES MADE OF ELECTROCHEMICALS CALLED CHARACTERS.
If you really want to get into it contact my teammate Bookmaker Jake and buy a copy of his second novel, The Rise and Fall of The Novel Corporation. Otherwise, don’t worry about all that. You don’t have to know the details to know that today–December 6, 2019–I did my first official treatment of the generically engineered commercial character you humans know as the Orkin Man.
I know some of you love this aged character, but no character (no matter what it claims) is immortal. Dressing full grown human males in red and white uniforms for 118 years is a long time, and we at Storysold: Pest Control hope our treatment of “inscribed action” will inspire the Orkin Man to change, at least its uniform.
It’s not that we have something against the Old Man. It’s our business to control and treat environmental disorders anywhere we find them, and we think it’s time we start talking about the big pest in the room. It’s just weird and unhealthy for one super generic character to embody, control, and infest the lives of so many humans.
Chapter 1: Crawlspace Shy
Our service story began when Chessjuan (or Chess for sort) posted the following message on Thumbtack:
CHESS: I’ve had Orkin come out and they’ve been horrible and unable to even help with my current situation. had a previous career rodent expert come out and they had indicated that the rats had been in the crawl space a while. My dog has killed one after it had hopped out of the compost bin, which had been relocated to be further from the home, and have sealed off most of their entry points. currently know of two areas they have access to the crawlspace. a tunnel they continue to rebuild despite my efforts of filling it with a foam sealant and wire combo and appears to have access through the front deck. they use to get into the garage when we noticed that they had been getting into the dog food. however, we’ve since blocked off the entry points by the furnace with metal wiring and moved the dog food inside the laundry room onto a rack sealed inside plastic bins. Have entered my crawlspace and have found droppings in the insulation and you can visibly see where the rats have been taking down insulation for bedding in the floor of the crawlspace. seeking quite on cost of removal and potentially reinsulation and application of crawlspace liner.
My notoriously loquacious teammate Bookmaker took a liking to Chess immediately. Most of the humans who post on Thumbtack (or its evil twin Home Advisor) aren’t engaged enough in their urban wilderness to write about their encounters in detail. So naturally, we were honored when Chess accepted our invitation for a free inspection and quote.
Nov 30, we were knocking on his front door still dirty from 4 hours of crawlspace exclusion work, writing The Action of what will soon become service story #38.
As usual, I asked our young producers to tell their backstory while we all listened–at the edge of our proverbial seats–while I began to track The Action. For starters, they were first time homeowners who bought their home a year ago, only to discover it had a serious history of rodent cohabitation.
“Why wouldn’t you call a well-recognized 118 year old brandname like Orkin?” I thought. “I’m sure calling ‘Chuck with a Truck’ on Thumbtack didn’t fall under their idea of responsible homeownership.”
So they called Orkin, and the Orkin Man sent out one of its many human action figures to play its part. And if I got it right, somewhere along the way they agreed to buy a bundled deal with other pest control services. Why not? It’s cheaper. And all that territorial protection sounds nice. They had no way of knowing that a “maintenance service” is code for giving Orkin Man the green light to run around their home every month or quarter to spray a ton of neurotoxins, like a fairy dust, at target pests they don’t feel the need to identity, track, or even see before they spray.
To be fair, the Orkin Man isn’t the only commercial character who makes a ton of cash spraying neurotoxins like magic on homes at pests they couldn’t locate anymore than I could point and say, “Hey, there goes the one and only, real deal Orkin Man!” It’s an industry classic.
The next classic industry scene our homemaking heroes witnessed was an act that often happens with overworked Orkin action figures. We all know rodents can become “bait shy,” but what many humans don’t know is, pest control operators can become “crawlspace shy.” Which means, the action figures/techs/operators do exactly what the Orkin Man did during their service at Chess’s home. For many reasons like girth, laziness, or being overworked, the Orkin Man didn’t inspect or set traps in the whole crawlspace. They set a few snap traps around the hatch, leaving the rest of the space open and unexplored as The New World.
“Did you sign some kind of contract?” I asked mid conversation.
“Yeah,” Chess replied, sharing his story. “They already showed up to treat the foundation for ants or something…and they’re going to send me a quote for a crawlspace clean out.”
“So they’re already spraying and trying to sell you a clean out before they solved the rat problem you called about?”
“Yeah, like I said..” Chess laughed. “They’re horrible.”
Orkin Man didn’t even place any bait anywhere on the property, making up some excuse about not wanting to poison his dogs. Chess had to hire a family friend, a retired pest control operator to set up bait stations around the perimeter for the Orkin Man. The friend was also crawlspace shy, but for good reason. He’d already put his time in, and crawlspaces are not easy to move around in, especially if you’re not fit enough to do the job.
So there I was, sitting on the edge of the crawlspace hatch facing a job that our producers had already paid 2 professionals to do. My favorite part of their backstory was the part where Orkin Man told them they used a new kind of “exclusion technology” to seal up their vents.
I was down in that crawl for no longer than 30 minutes before I popped back into The World with photos documenting 10 entry points as well as the burrow (and possible entry point) the rats had constructed under the garage. And that was just my quick read of their crawl…
By the time I showed our heroes the photos and presented them with a plausible story to explain The Action they were experiencing, it was getting late. They had a social gathering to attend, and so did our human host. We promised Jake he could attend his brother Ben’s rock concert. His cover band, Hype Five, was performing Radiohead’s OK Computer in SE.
We had to go, but it pained me to think of leaving without setting the crawlspace up proper, so I said, “Do we have 20 min? It pains me to think of leaving without setting the crawlspace up proper.”
“For sure,” Chess said. “We got time.”
So I grabbed my equipment and took a quick spin around the crawlspace to set my markers and traps. Our human was sweating when returned feeling triumphant.
“When Orkin comes to collect their traps,” I smiled. “Tell them I set them between their exit and the burrow where they’re supposed to be.”
Going forward, our live action plan was to return in a week for a trap checking/exclusion service to fix the screens and seal up the entry holes except their burrow and primary runway out.
“Don’t worry about paying me now,” I smiled as I disappeared into the darkness. “We have places to be. I’ll catch you next time around.”
Chapter 1: Orkin Man vs. Wilderness Guide
We arrived at 9 on the day of our big exclusion scene. After a few words of greeting, I suited up and put my mind to the task of securing the humans’ Homefront with wire, foam, and metal.
In the four and a half hours that followed I excluded these weaknesses in their territorial line. Not one of Orkin Man’s exclusions was good enough for me to leave unrepaired:
Honestly, after a while, I lost interested in the contest. Because there was none, and Chess and Danielle had sent a supervisor to make sure the work was getting done…
I stopped wasting my time competing with a fiction character, put my music on, replaced screens, and foamed every possible hole I could find:
My last act for the day was to reset and add traps, and remove the young female adult I caught in a trap near one of the holes under the porch. The marker had moved, which means one might have fled…or the young adult left the nest to feed, then returned only to die in my trap. The death total since I arrived on The Scene was now 3: 2 juveniles dead by bait found during first service, and one larger, young female dead by my trap.
At the end of our second service, our heroes’s home was mostly excluded, except the tunnel entry and the burrow under the garage. I marked the tunnel with a plastic bag and set 2 traps on either side of it.
I imagine when I return in a few weeks, we will know if there is an older, wiser, sneaker rat still down there…because it doesn’t have too many options now. If it’s still down there, it can (a) die (b) or show itself trying to escape a fate that seems, to us, to be clear.
Death comes for us all. Even the 118 year old immortal Orkin Man.
Chapter 2: RIP Rats
Weeks after my epic clean up of Orkin’s exclusion work, I returned to Chess and Danielle’s home.
“Have you had any activity since last we met?” I asked.
“No,” Chess smiled. “We’ve definitely noticed a massive decrease in activity since you’ve come by…and Kyra also has been a lot less active at night.”
“Good deal,” I beamed. “I’ll get a read of your crawl…if everything’s where I set it last I was here, we’ll be ready to seal her up.”
Fifteen minutes later I returned from the land of pipes and insulation, and asked, “Has anyone been down there since I was there last?”
“No,” Chess replied.
“One of my traps has been tipped over, but I probably kicked it with my foot. All the traps, the bait, the free food, and all my markers are as I left them last time. All Quiet on The Western Front.”
A few minutes later, I was looking through my respirator at a face full of pink insulation–fixing metal flashing to the sides of the heater where the rats were running to and from the garage.
Next, I packed gravel from my truck down into the crawl, dragged it the length of the house, and then packed it under the heater as well as the rat highway under the foundation.
Then I mixed the medicine. No, not a tank full of neurotoxins to kill some poor creature. I spooned a bucket, poured the water in slowly, and stirred up the cure for Entry Hole Disorder…
It’s a serious environmental disorder that effects millions of homeowners around the globe. Really. It stands to reason, if our genes and chemicals can have a diagnostic book listing hundreds of disorders, certainly our environment can have a couple? All our environmental problems can’t all just be Global Warming. Nobody knows what to do about that.
Meanwhile, back in the crawlspace, once my medicine was ready I spread it over the space under the garage formerly known as the nest.
And for my final act, I poured a nice, thick gravestone over the tunnel the rats had used to make Chess and Danielle’s home their home too.
“True,” my teammate Pest Predator murmured. “Rest in peace rats. You were formidable advisories. You will be remembered well in the great feasting tables of Volehalla.”
“Sorry I didn’t save the meat for you, Predator,” I said, realizing that he was shaken a little emotionally by the ending of this story. “Next time I promise we will feast on the flesh of our prey…with honor.”
“For Christ’s sake,” Bookmaker rolled his eyes. “Come on really? You want us to save the meat for Rat Burgers? I’m in with heathens…”
“He’s having a moment,” I whispered. “Have a heart and indulge in a little make believe will you?”
“Whatever,” Bookmaker chuckled. “You’re crazy as he is.”
“We’re all going to be living on Rat Burgers soon if we don’t end this service story for Chess and Danielle. What do you say we make an effort to exclude that front porch. You know it’s not deep enough…and besides, The Orkin Man took them to the cleaners. They deserve a bonus.”
“Very well,” Bookmaker groaned.
And together, as a team, Bookmaker Jake, Wilderness Guide, and Pest Predator dusted the crawlspace off our jumpsuit, packed our traps, and broke out the tin snips.
The story ended with a nice, long chat with Chess. It felt good to have the time scheduled to do that. We talked about rat catching, business owning, and how companies hustle their customers.
We’re a company of very little brain compared to the brains of massive commercial characters…companies with thousands of human hosts (each with a brain to milk for its story), so we don’t always remember every line right. But Chess left me with a good one.
“You’re affordable,” he smiled, “and you actually did work!”
Someday, when our children are old and grey, I hope homemaking heroes like Chess and Danielle will be able to expect a lot more from their pest control professionals than bullshit stories and death.
In the meantime, we recommend that you–good reader–put commercial pest control characters like Orkin Man on a regular maintenance contract that gives their pestilence the treatments they need and deserve.