|The "Trapped Like Rats" scene|
Truth in advertising: rats are becoming harder and harder to trap, especially those who have had their intelligence and fearlessness ramped up in the laboratory. So, it is probably not the best comparison to say that, recently, there has been a rash of trapped-like-rats humans in my circle. In fact, it may be a cautionary tale that humans may be becoming increasingly easier to trap than rats.
The first person I know who was trapped in the past two weeks fell victim to something that apparently is more common than I realized. The story opens with a frightening scene in my house - the LOML (love of my life) collapsing in the bathroom. I ran to the sound and found him on the floor, unconscious and bleeding from a cut on his forehead. While dialing 911 I gave him a couple of chest compressions until he took a big, gasping, breath and began to wake up. Police and EMS arrived and an attack of atrial fibrillation was suspected. Off to the hospital we flew, picking up paramedics along the way. At the hospital we were met by my son and the LOML's sister - wonderful and caring support for both the patient and myself.
The long night in the ER is a tale for another time, but by 2 AM things were stable and calm. I stayed at the hospital, my son and LOML's sister went home. I imagined them both snuggled into their beds like the children in "The Night Before Christmas" while I shoved two chairs together in the tiny, makeshift acute care cubicle and tried to sleep myself. Little did I know that a drama was taking place that wouldn't be resolved until almost 5 AM.
LOML's sister had been unable to park in the filled-to-capacity hospital parking deck, so she parked in a municipal parking deck. The hospital security guard, fearing for her safety at the late hour, offered to drive her there and wait while she got into her car, and then would follow her out of the deck. Using the automatic machine in the parking deck, LOML's sister paid her parking fee, got her car and then, with security officer in tow, headed for the exit. The exit with the gate. The gate that requires either a special electronic card or the paid parking receipt to be inserted. The guard inserted his key card in lane 1. The gate did not open. He waved LOML's sister over to Lane 2, just thinking that Lane 1 was not working and surely Lane 2 would. She inserted her paid receipt. The gate did not open. They were, essentially, trapped in the municipal parking deck at 2:30 in the morning.
Calling the displayed emergency number on the gate dispatched a mechanic to take care of the problem. Unfortunately, he showed up with only his own keycard, which did not open the gate. Eventually, the manual or emergency way to open the gate was discovered and both LOML's sister and the by-now-very-MIA-from-the-hospital security guard were released from captivity. I can't say for certain, but I think the city rats, who are able to get in and out of the parking deck with impunity, enjoyed the entertainment.
This morning, I see this Facebook report from my friend, environmental writer John Platt.
"I went down into our basement yesterday to change the furnace filters. The good news: I did not see any evidence, which I had feared, that we have mice.
The bad news: We have a lot of very big, well-fed spiders."
Now, one might conclude that the spiders ate the mice - but that would be a silly Stephen King horror story conclusion. Spiders don't eat mice. At least regular house-type spiders don't. I am not sure about giant jumping desert spiders or hairy tarantulas; and the only man-eating spiders I know of populate forests and mines in The Lord of the Rings and other "fantasies." On the other hand, are spiders capable of setting traps other than webs, say, for example, fixing a door so it can't be opened? I say this because of the next line from John:
"Oh, the worst news? Apparently our basement door is broken and I got trapped down there for an hour and a half until Colleen came home."
I know where the mice were. They were out in the yard feeling proud of themselves. No broken door kept them from escaping the spiders in the basement. And lucky for John, the spiders were so well-fed that they were in no hurry to pounce. At least for an hour and a half.