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Sunday, September 18, 2005


Rat Master!

I am the RAT MASTER!

We have had an exciting weekend, full of mystery, revulsion, edification, revelation, misplaced blame and best of all, resolution.

Lately, we have been having a curious amount of trouble with laundry. And, trust me, this is very relevant to my evolution as a certified RAT MASTER.

First of all, we recently discovered that the reason why our clothes never get clean to our satisfaction is because Samaya, our cleaning lady, doesn't actually wash our clothes in the washing machine, preferring, instead, to do them the old-fashioned way -- by hand in the tub. It is not clear how long she's been doing this, but it's probably been a while since the washing machine has been used with regularity.

So, we started doing our own laundry in our machine. This led to all the problems.

The first time I used the washing machine a few weeks ago, the rinsewater drained all over the kitchen floor (the machine is under the kitchen counter, like a dishwasher), resulting in the parquet buckling to such a degree that speedbumps prevent us from walking to the sink without stumbling.

I called the master in to fix the washing machine, I got the typical response: "I don't see any problem with the washing machine. It works fine." So, I ran a load of wash, and, again, water drained all over the floor, causing so much buckling that we can't easily open or close the refrigerator door. This is a major annoyance, but, in truth, not really relevant to the story.

So, being the resourceful homeowner that I am, I assessed the situation and determined that, for whatever reason, the outlet hose from the washing machine wasn't staying in the drain. While it is certainly the case that that the machine hadn't been used in a long time, this had never happened before. I got the duct tape and secured it it until I could retain the services of a more competent master.

Now, in the meantime, The Producer spotted a mouse in the kitchen. This caused some alarm. However, because of our inability to reach consensus about what to do about it, no action was taken.

Today, I opened the cabinet under the sink, which houses the laundry detergent and the drain for the washing machine. I noted a whole bunch of something that looked like pellets of shit.

Now, I grew up in an environment in which I was not unexposed to the output of various rodents, but this had to come from something the size of a rabbit. AND, there was a pile of kibble and small pieces of bread in the corner.

RAT! Not a mouse, a RAT!

I nearly fainted at the prospect.

I had yelled at some dogs Saturday for removing a loaf of bread from the kitchen counter. I slowly realized that it probably wasn't the dogs who ate half a loaf of bread and left it on the floor. I was wracked with guilt!

It was, in all likelihood, the work of the biggest fucking rat in the world. The dogs were probably cowering in the corner, trembling in fear, much like their father was during the mystery-solving phase of this story.

I sprung into action. I looked up the word for rat in the dictionary. I hustled down the street to the Cheap Chinese Plastics store, at which I vaguely recalled seeing anti-rat products. After an elaborate pantomime in which I expressed my shame, horror and disgust at having a rat in my house, and the owner expressed his sympathy and recommendations for the most effective solution to my problem (in the debate over glue versus poison, poison seemed to fit my needs better. I wish I could convey the body language that helped settle this discussion), I ran home with a packet of little purple pellets.

Worried about negative impact of rat poison on my dogs, I thought I'd check with a local. I called my most senior male staffer and asked for his advice.

It turns out, and this is very interesting, that every neighborhood has an epidemiology office that is in charge of investigating rat issues. Upon getting a report, they will come an lay down poison and block the entrance the rat is using to gain access. This is a vestige from the Soviet era. He said we would call this office on Monday and come up with a dog-friendly rat termination strategy.

I found this reassuring, but I am sure it is not as easy or convenient as all that. Paperwork will probably have to be filled out and bribes asked for and denied. This is, after all, Azerbaijan.

I still felt like I needed to take some action on my own.

I studied the undersink area for possible access points. Slowly, I came to an astounding realization:

The reason why the outlet hose wasn't staying in the drain was because it was being chewed through and pushed out! I looked at it again, and despite having just been fixed by a master two days before, it was sticking out of the drain with gnaw marks all over it!

I was stunned! Shocked! A range of emotions convulsed through my body. I felt triumph, like Nancy Drew solving three important household mysteries at once -- the rat, the eaten bread and the washing machine leak. But, at the same time, I realized the rat was coming up the drain from the sewer into my house! More shame and horror.

I rebounded quickly, however. I realized that this vile situation presented an opportunity for me to exact retribution on the rat while at the same time protecting my family, one quarter of which was behaving like a little girl throughout this ordeal.

I could pour the rat pellets down the drain!

With a feeling of power and superiority, I poured half the packet down the drain and put the rest in a little dish in the back of the cabinet. We taped the door shut to prevent accidental canine access.

Now, I am going to sit back and wait for the little purple pellets to work their magic. And, I am going to start doing a lot more laundry, flushing those little bastards back down to the stinking sewers of Baku from whence they came.

I am also considering trading in two dogs and a Producer for some more useful cats.

Carpetblogger, we had a huge rat in our kittchen too, in Tbilisi, last year. I understand your feelings very good. We have also two kids in our family. I heard rumble-tumble from the kittchen, and suddenly saw her quiet sitting on the sink. We then found a 10cm hole in the wall, we closed it. I got two cats, not that they are catching rats, but since then I haven't seen them anymore. Nice blog on Azerbaijan.
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