“A rat just ran across the floor”
“Are you sure it was a rat and not a mouse?”
“It was big, like a rat.” Brandon measured out the width of the creature he had just seen sprint from where he was sitting during homeroom to the bookcase on the other side of the room. I estimated the width between his hands to be about six inches. I doubt a rat, but still.
“I’m sure it was a mouse. I’ll report it to Ms. Torres, our head custodian.”
I have a complicated relationship with mice.
I view them as having equal access to my classroom. I’m sure mice lived on these grounds well before any school had ever been built. But I also don’t want them eating food remnants or nesting in our classroom. My attitude has been, you stay out of sight when students are around, and I won’t report you to the “authorities.”
This agreement has worked out just fine until two days ago when I discovered a half eaten candy cane and some mouse poop in my storage cabinet behind my desk.
Damn, I thought. I forgot to throw out that old holiday candy, and now the message has gone out. Room 325 is a bastion of good eats.
I cleaned up the crumbs and wrappers then sanitized the shelves. I double checked my snack containers to make sure they were securely latched and hoped that would be the end of it.
But then this morning, Brandon had seen the mouse. A daytime interloper.
Homeroom ended without any other mice sightings.
A short while later, as I sat at my desk in the middle of a virtual meeting there came a loud scritch-scratching from inside my cabinet, mere inches from where I was seated.
The mouse’s boldness startled me, and I hastily announced that a mouse was in my cabinet to everyone on the call.
This set in motion a chain reaction that went like this: My principal called Ms. Torres; Ms. Torres came to my room armed with a broom and a sticky mouse trap; slightly horrified at the thought of watching an epic custodian-mouse battle play out near my desk, I moved to a neighboring room to continue my meeting.
To my surprise, Ms. Torres said she was unable to catch the mouse (Mouse 1, Custodian 0) but had left the mouse trap–the sticky pad– in my closet (Advantage Custodian).
(A word about sticky pad mouse traps: I hate them! Once a mouse is stuck on one, it dies a slow, agonizing death, usually due to dehydration. I would choose the old fashioned, neck breaking, mouse traps over the sticky pads any day. Or how about a live mouse trap? Even better!)
My heart filled with remorse. Why did I announce the mouse’s presence in my room? A death sentence had been handed down on the little creature, and I was to blame.
There was one option left, but time was running out. Saving the mouse from execution would mean getting to the sticky trap first and throwing the thing into the trash can, discreetly. I summoned my trusty comrade and co-worker, Ms. Sanderson, to assist with the rescue mission.
She immediately took charge of the situation.
“I’ll look in your closet. You stay over there.”
Hopes of saving a mouse’s life were short lived. After taking a quick peek inside the wooden cabinet, Ms. Sanderson quickly shut door and declared.. “Oh! There is a mouse on the sticky pad. It looks dead.”
We were too late. The mouse was trapped, paralyzed by the glue. Frozen. Death imminent.
We called Ms. Torres back up to room 325, and she promptly removed the body from my cabinet. If I’m not mistaken, I believe I saw her lips curl into a little smirk. She knew all along she would win this mouse battle. (Outcome: Ms. Torres for the win in a final death match.)
I returned to my desk, riddled with guilt and feeling glum. The mouse was gone. All that remained were the slivers of wood sprinkled on the carpet, a failed attempt to chew its way out of its entrapment.