I’ve noticed lately that more and more of my friends are asking me if I’ve ever considered getting a roommate. It makes me wonder if they’re concerned about my ability to take care of my house, my dogs or myself.
To be honest, anyone who’d be foolish enough to move in with me probably would end up running away screaming in about two days. That’s because I do weird things like repair fences at 3:00 in the morning, or bake cookies at midnight…after I finish eating my dinner at 11.
But the other night I did something so crazy, I found myself wishing I did have a roommate around – preferably a combination handyman/electrician/plumber with muscles like the Incredible Hulk.
It all started when I was in the laundry room and saw some mouse droppings in front of the washer. Instantly I panicked, mainly because of an incident that occurred years ago where I used to live. I still refer to it as the Great Mouse Invasion.
Back then, the mice were getting in through a small gap around the pipes under the kitchen sink. No matter how many times I tried to seal the gap, the mice still found a way to squeeze through it. So I bought some non-lethal mousetraps – little plastic tubes with a swinging door on one end that could be pushed inward, but not outward. Once a mouse crawled inside, it couldn’t get back out.
Within 10 minutes of setting up two traps with enticing blobs of peanut butter inside, I caught a mouse in each one – cute little field mice with huge dark eyes. They weren’t the disgusting, filth-encrusted vermin I’d anticipated. No, these mice were clean, with bright white chests and tiny pale-pink feet.
I affectionately dubbed them Mickey and Minnie, then drove them about two miles up the road and let them loose in the woods.
By the end of that night, however, I’d caught about 12 more mice. I was so tired and grumpy from transporting their furry little butts to the woods so many times, I stopped thinking they were cute. I also stopped giving them endearing names like Mickey and Minnie, and switched to monikers like Rat Face and Cat Chow.
So when I saw evidence of mice in the laundry room the other night, I was understandably upset…because the last thing I wanted was a repeat of the Great Mouse Invasion. I decided I’d better move the washer and dryer away from the wall and investigate.
Well, my washer and dryer are in this cubbyhole kind of area that just fits them, with only about an inch to spare on either side.
I pulled the dryer away from the back wall. It moved forward fairly easily, but I remembered there was some kind of vent hose on the back of it, which I didn’t want to yank out. So I paused to check it. The only way I could look behind the dryer was to stand on a chair and peer over the top.
That’s when I saw a couple things that disturbed me – the vent hose already was stretched nearly to its limit, and there was a gap in the floor all around it. Even worse, in the corner was a pile of lint and fibers that suspiciously resembled a nest.
I directed my attention to the washer, thinking if I could move it farther out of the cubbyhole than the dryer, I could gain access from that side.
I soon discovered that the washer weighed about as much as a small car. I grunted so much, barely moving it an inch, the dogs came running into the room, probably to see if a wild pig somehow had found its way inside.
It took me about 15 minutes to pull out the washer the full distance the hoses behind it would allow. Unfortunately, it wasn’t far enough to get it past the side wall. So I was stuck with a washer and dryer only an inch apart, with walls nearly touching the outer sides of them. I had to accept the fact that the only way I was going to get behind the dryer was to climb over the top of it.
The common-sense portion of my brain (which I use infrequently) told me that even if I did somehow manage to climb over the dryer and get behind it, I might end up stuck there, unable to climb back out. So I shoved my cell phone into the back pocket of my sweatpants – just in case I needed to call for help. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be using the phone, though, even if I did get hopelessly wedged behind the dryer. I didn’t want anyone to see me in my holey old sweatpants and baggy sweatshirt. Even worse, I wasn’t wearing any makeup and my hair was pulled into a knot on top of my head. I figured starving to death behind the dryer probably would be preferable to suffering through years of humiliation.
Before I made the climb, I gathered some steel-wool pads, duct tape, a dustpan and brush, and a footstool. I’d once read that if you have gaps around any pipes or vents, to stuff steel wool into them and then put duct tape over it, because mice can’t chew through steel wool.
I set everything, including the footstool, on top of the left side of the dryer. Then I stood on a chair, climbed up onto the right side of the dryer and knelt down.
I peered over the back, the highest part of the dryer, where the control knobs were located, and mentally calculated the distance to the floor. I felt as if I were on top of Mount Everest. I finally moved to climb over the control panel. As I did, I heard something fall to the floor between the two machines. It was my cell phone. I also suddenly couldn’t move. That’s when I noticed the tie-string on my sweatpants was caught on one of the knobs. By then, I was pretty sure the mice were pointing at me and laughing.
I untangled myself and dropped behind the dryer. Then I reached over the top and grabbed all of my supplies. I swept, I stuffed, I taped, I called the mice colorful, unprintable names. When I was satisfied with my handiwork, I picked up the footstool from the top of the dryer, set it down on the floor and stood on it.
The stool was much lower than the chair, so I had to stretch my leg a greater distance to get it up over the back of the dryer. At one point, I began to understand how it felt to be a turkey wishbone…during the actual wish-making process.
Finally, I was sitting back on top of the dryer. I smiled with satisfaction, pleased with myself. I’d solved the problem on my own – no help needed. The gap around the vent was sealed, I’d removed the nest, and best of all, I hadn’t crushed my spleen or impaled a kidney in the process.
That’s when I realized that the footstool still was on the floor behind the dryer.
I’m thinking I might place a “roommate wanted” ad in the newspaper next week.
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