I first noticed my new roommates Friday night. I was getting ready for bed and noticed a cockroach scurrying along the laundry room floor. I reacted in a predictable and entirely useless way: I screamed, waved my hands over my head, screamed again and ran in circles looking frantically for something to kill it with.
There was of course, nothing to kill it with. I knew that deep down inside somewhere but all rational thought had fled with the appearance of the cockroach.
I could have used a shoe I suppose, or a book or even a bottle of shampoo. But then I would have had to get close, and probably chase it. They are quick little buggers and if you scare them they fly, usually straight at you.
And then, if I did manage to catch and kill one, what do I do with it? I don’t relish the thought of scraping cockroach guts off the bottom of my shoe. Ugh.
I like to use some sort of fast acting chemical product. Preferably one that can be sprayed from a distance. When I lived in Japan, they had a spray that looked a bit like silly string and would form a bubble over and around the cockroach. I would wait a few minutes and peel the bubble off the floor. Easy. (I discovered this stuff after two years of calling my extremely patient upstairs neighbour to come and kill them for me.)
Normally I have a live and let live approach to bugs. They can stay in their space and I’ll stay in mine and we can coexist harmoniously. Cockroaches (and to a lesser extent earwigs) completely gross me out. This isn’t particularly hard to understand; they are nasty, skittery things. But my hand-waving, ear-splittingly loud shrieking, running in circles like a chicken with its head cut off, sheer panic-filled reaction is odd; I used to dissect cockroaches in my animal physiology lab at university. Perhaps it’s karma.
Once my panic had subsided slightly, I noticed that there was a door between me and the beast. I slammed it shut and locked it for good measure. I wouldn’t put it past a cockroach to be able to open sliding doors. I stared at him through the glass, and he stared back, antenna quivering in celebration of having chased the human away.
I managed to sleep that night but it wasn’t easy, knowing that there was a cockroach in the next room.
The next morning, there were two of them. I shuddered and decided to deal with them after breakfast. Blearily I made my way to the bathroom. I sat down, reached for the toilet paper and screamed. I was out in the middle of my apartment with my pants around my ankles before I realized it. The neighbours must have had a field day. I hadn’t closed the curtains the night before (the better to see the cockroaches) so they could look up from their breakfast tables and see the new foreign teacher, screaming and running around her apartment half-naked. Charming.
I inched back towards the bathroom to find him perched boldly on the toothbrush holder. I rushed in, turned the shower on and watched him swirl away down the drain.
Feeling somewhat better about myself and my cockroach killing abilities, I decided to have breakfast. There were two in my cupboard. I decided to get dressed and go to the store for the biggest bottle of Raid I could find. Two more in my underwear door, three in my shoe cupboard. Tears were imminent.
I couldn’t find any roach spray at the grocery store and didn’t know how to ask. Instead I bought the biggest box of traps I could find, a pink fly swatter and a fancy pastry for breakfast to make myself feel better.
At the cash, I was handed another box of roach traps. This one was smaller and had a large bow on it. Were roaches such a problem that the stores gave free boxes of traps as a welcome to the neighbourhood gift? It turned out that the traps had a buy one get one free kind of deal but that didn’t really lessen my fears. There must be a lot of roaches in the neighbourhood if they needed a two for one deal on traps.
I went home and put traps everywhere. Twenty-two traps to be exact. It was awful. Every time I opened a cupboard or a drawer, or moved a piece of furniture, cockroaches would come skittering out.
I had a small pity party, shed a few tears and went out for lunch with some friends.