Last Friday, an Alaska Airlines flight
out of Seattle was delayed because a rat was seen scurrying in the cabin. Our county health department provides helpful advice
if a rat swims up your sewer lines into your toilet.
We even have a neighborhood nicknamed “Rat City.” Rats are featured in the popular Underground Tour
of Seattle, and I believe are part of Seattle culture as much as Douglas firs and coffee.
Not long after Schwartz killed our pet snake, I discovered some evidence in our basement of rats.
They had found some secret stashes of dog food samples and treats and chewed their way in. I called the exterminator and he went through the usual routine of setting bait and traps and dutifully returned once a week to look for results. We suspected they were living in the basement ceiling, and Schwartz did his part letting us know that now we were on to something.
The exterminator finally decided that it was time to open the ceiling and pull out the rat’s nest once and for all. As he got to work unscrewing the screws that held the panel in place, Schwartz watched him carefully. As he tipped the panel down to slide out the rat’s nest, down it came, full of leaves and sawdust and lots of rat poop and there in the middle one big live rat. As it hit the floor it took off at a run, but Schwartz was on the case. He had the rat immediately. In one pounce he stopped the rat. The exterminator did the rest.
The exterminator was very excited and proud to tell me this story.
Having arrived around midnight, I caught the last ferry into Venice. I got off in the wrong spot, and my directions were unclear, and I started to walk in what turned out to be the wrong direction: the first of many, many wrong turns. I walked in the dark for perhaps 15 minutes before being found by an English couple who thought I looked like I needed help. They took me back to their hotel, where the concierge tried first to decipher my directions and ultimately called my hotel. He drew a pencil line on my map which meant I had to cross the Rialto bridge to a different part of the city.
Once I got myself onto the right side of the Rialto Bridge, going “straight” was a matter of interpretation, and finding the proper street took quiet a bit of circling. There is a late night party scene here only at certain osterias, but it seemed pretty benign. I was frightened by the tone of a group of young drunk men, and then an enormous rat ran across my path, which only made me mad. By the time I found my hotel I was rather wound up.
The next day I had blisters on my feet, so I wore different shoes, which gave me more, different blisters. At the end of the day I wore my third pair of shoes (flip-flops) which gave me the worst blisters of all. We ran into the people who helped me in the dark in the afternoon, and they admitted that they rescued lost people every night as they come home from dinner.