Service Story #40: The Exclusion Bomb
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SERVICE STORY (REVIEWED ON THUMBTACK)
“Jake went above and beyond from when I first met him at the first evaluation. We had a rodent problem that I had got several other company’s to review and were left with the feeling that they couldn’t fully evaluate the problem because the low crawl space in our 1940s home. Then Jake showed up friendly and knowledgeable as ever and had no problem getting under our house and really giving us a full review(with photos) to where the rats were getting in and how to stop them. He was always professional and on time, and more than that really seemed like he liked his job and helping people that didn’t know how to handle pest invasions. He did a full enclosing and it’s has been 2 months and I haven’t seen a rodent. He is responsive and always asked for follow up…. and on top of that a great writer…. just check out his website? I fully recommend if you ever get any unexpected creatures to have him save the day. He will solve the problem and is reasonable priced. Thanks Jake!”
Produced for Stephanie and the Brockways on Dec 11, 12, and Jan 9 in Tualatin, OR
I am Wilderness Security Guide, the Environmental Control Operator for Storysold: Pest Control, and this is the story of my service –
It was my third service mud diving into the crawlspace of a home set on a gravel, dead end road that looked more country than suburban. A high canopy of evergreens gave the road a cosy, watchful feel, which reminded me of one of my favorite wilderness homes in The Northern Cascades: dark, wet, green, and rich in active rot and earth. On the other side of the road, a creek ran parallel giving more life to the wild neighborhood, critters that that no doubt belled up to it everyday like Norm from Cheers.
As our readers know, I’m a female. Yet my human host Jake is a male. And I often try to empathize and understand his maleness, sort of like Data or Spock on Star Trek–struggling to understand humankind. Or maybe a better analogy is being like a female employee working in a corporate governing body who operates as a male character–like Orkin Man, Michelin Man, or Maytag Man–everyday.
I don’t often waste our customers’ time with musings like these, but there wasn’t any other headline flashing above this service story and it came to me naturally in a perfect all male moment: (a) I was alone with no one at home or on the road outside, which was very manly in the same way working on cars alone in the garage is, or watching sports on TV in silence in a one person recliner is. (b) I was cold, hungry, muddy, and my hands were bleeding from wangling hardware cloth in tight spaces, which was also very manly because its not “real work” unless I feel the sacrifice like a bloody boxer, calloused ditch digger, or Jesus on the cross. And the best part, I didn’t have anyone around to argue with me. It was just us (me, my host, and our small team of characters) and our thoughts. There was no know-it-all co-worker or nagging boss to tell me that my thoughts were dumb, or didn’t make sense. I could think of anything I wanted to think about, and then wrap it up, mummify it, and save my wisdom for all time like buried treasure.
My all male moment began with a flash question. I was inspecting my work from my initial exclusion service with the same sort of pride that comes from thinking great thoughts with no one around to burst my bubble.
The question just popped in. “What was more manly?” I thought as I low crawled to my next entry hole. “Grinding steel with my shirt on, or nuking them until they glowed?”
Translated from Male-ese back to Wilderness Guide the 2 choices (because with human males its always wrong or right, or 2 choices): (a) making the effort to draw a clear territorial line (aka The Magic Line) and exclude the raccoons, possums, rats, and mice from their home, OR (b) killing every rat, raccoon, squirrel, and wild creature in the neighborhood like Captain Bug Killer with his lifetime of monthly “maintenance” contracts.
Why was this question important to our story here?
Well it’s sort of retrospective. There was a moment at the end of my first service when I had to recommend a course of action to Stephanie…
I was tired and rambled a little, but stood on her front porch and said something like, “You have 4 broken vents, an open wildlife-sized door under your porch, at least one active tunnel, large gaps and entry holes around all 4 closable crawl doors, a hill full of old/inactive burrows in the side crawl under the living room, at least 3 easy entry holes leading into house (like the one under sink where you caught the rats), a fat gap under back patio porch leading into crawl, a handful of possible entry holes, and signs of activity in the floorboards in the back crawl.”
For anyone reading who’s not a Brockway, their territory has two add-on crawlspaces for a total of three. Based on my tracking of signs, it seemed that the main crawl space was raccoon territory, the side crawl under the living room was mostly abandoned, and the back crawl space was the hangout of what I guessed was a single, savvy old loner/male rat. But I wasn’t sure about the gender of the rat. That tracking of the signs could easily be a classic projection on my part.
“So what do you recommend?” Stephanie asked very matter of factly.
Any classic, male pest control operator (and no joke, they’re all male) in my position wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the regular killing contract, place an arsenal of bait stations around the property, and then drive home in time for The Game and beers without thinking twice about it.
“If I were you,” I said without a thought to how. “I would spend my hard earned money on making an effort to exclude your home…instead of what I call ‘going to war with The Wilderness,’ trying to kill every creature in the neighborhood who creeps into your open crawlspace.”
After all, that’s what Snow White would do.
I was impressed with our producers. They didn’t immediately take my word for it. You know, just nod and take my professional recommendation like I was a benevolent white haired doctor or something. They asked for an action plan and proposal, and I wrote them one. Then they made their decision, and hired me to exclude the rats from their home.
Two services later, I was standing in their front yard covered head to toe in mud, still trying to catch my breath from 5 hours of work. No doubt if any neighbors saw me, they would have turned to their son, daughter, or anthropomorphized pet and say, “Oh my…” they’d say like they were riding the zoo train. “Now that’s a real man.”
I wasn’t grinding steel with my shirt on. That scene happened in the first exclusion scene, when I dragged my grinder down into the darkness with a sheet of expanded steel and cut it to size in a shower of sparks. But I was muddy, inspecting my work in the hands-on-hips warrior stance; and I knew from watching action movies that passed, nearly everyday, as manly.
Not that it mattered what the neighbors thought they saw. Characters aren’t made of flesh, blood, and bone anyway. You can’t really see, or put concrete words, to creatures made of The Action.
And believe you me, we’re chalk full of words that end with “ing.” Nouns are only good for fooling readers into believing this strange code–painted in black and white–is somehow saying something worthwhile.
Speaking of which, I feel like I just crossed a line there. As anyone who’s ever sat next to that guy on the plane knows, righteous monologuing is a classic form of pestilence. But a very manly one at that.
As the neighborhood began to stir with kids returning from school and parents coming home from work, I set my traps, placed my bait, and set a handful of free pet food in all three of the crawlspaces. The time for testing the newly excluded territorial line of Stephanie’s Homefront had come. A few moments after I closed the crawl doors, threw my tools and materials in the back of my van, turned the key, cranked with wheel, and headed down the road with “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond blasting through my speakers, the answer sounded loud like a trumpet call.
The answer wasn’t (a) grinding steel with my shirt on, building a wall to keep the critters at bay, or (b) nuking The Wilderness with poisons and pesticides until it glowed. It was (c) something new.
And I was doing something new. I wasn’t naive enough to believe a wall would be enough to teach the wild creatures to respect our producers’s home. For this to work, I’d have to change the core characters of the rats, mice, and raccoons who had, for years, believed this home was open for business. Because the heart of pest control is the power struggle/central conflict, the good old fashioned trying to tell any earth creature, “No, you can’t have that thing you think you really need anymore.”
And the only way to make that kind of radical change in a wild creature’s character is a making a radical change in their environment. Can you imagine a future war, not so long from now, where our heroes hit the ground running, gunfire all around, with hammers in their hand? And a squadron of bombers flying above them, all dropping expanded steel, hardware cloth, foam, concrete, and DYI Youtube videos for a city now controlled by villains who’ve long lost control of their own stories to easy money, free food, and a predator free home they didn’t build?
With lightning speed and efficiency, our heroes change everything about the villains environment overnight. And force them to change:
Random thought: I think The Math on that one active tunnel to the right of the door shown above is: shallow foundation + nearby tree roots + old abandoned house next door + water = rat tunnel. This spot is high on my list for future weakness in your Homefront. I’m curious to see how my plan works when I return for the 4th service to check in.
So folks, what do you think? Will my radical change in the environment be enough to make a radical change in The Action of the wild creatures in the neighborhood? Does “dropping The Exclusion Bomb” feel like real pest control if all that time and money was spent to kill one stubborn rat?
Because that’s what happened. A month after my last exclusion service, I returned and finally caught the sneaky guy I knew was nesting in the back corner.
Was it manly as grinding steel with my shirt on, or nuking them until they glow? The world may never know.