Dealing with crusty, flying things that go buzz in the night is where I draw the line. To read more about moving into my condo and my family of cockroaches, check out my article, Life Is About Trade-Offs.
I had been living in my condo in Bangkok for a month and honestly believed that I had seen the last of Mr. and Mrs. Cockroach and their whole freaking family. After alerting the Thai staff of the “infestation” in my bathroom, they told me, “Okay, okay. Yes, yes.”
When I later approached them about my infestation, the staff made buzzing noises while flapping their arms. They were bellyaching all over the place. When I did not smile, one of them told me, “This is Bangkok,” and shrugged. I would have to take care of this myself.
In my thirty-something years on this planet, I had a few fears. One, the fear of falling off a mountain top, and the other, big insects with wings. I often dreamed of climbing a mountain, peering down and then finding myself plummeting to my death. It is irrational and unlikely, as I am not a climber and would have no reason to find myself on a mountain top. Heck, I can barely do a pull up let alone carry a pack needed to scale a mountain. The other: big, scary-looking bugs with wings.
At night I often laid in bed listening to the sounds of the city while keeping one ear pricked for flying winged things. I was like a parent who slept with one ear towards the door, except that I slept with one ear towards the walls and ceiling, listening for skittering.
In the morning when I awoke, I would scan my bedroom. Often, I found nothing and soon I stopped looking because it felt mildly paranoid. That is what they want – for me to get comfortable. One morning while I stretched, I turned my head and was horrified to find a large cockroach flat on its back near my wardrobe. It was a solid two inches with antennae just as long. I found another on my pillow, also dead.
I thanked myself for not rolling over to the other half of my king-sized bed. What if I had been sleeping with my mouth open, and it climbed in and had babies in my stomach? Too much detail for you? You were thinking it – I just made it real. Thoroughly grossed out, I used a paper towel for thickness, picked up both and made a mad dash for my bathroom. I dropped both into the toilet bowl sans paper towel and flushed.
I didn’t want them to come back to life and bite me on the hand while I ran screaming around my condo before dying a miserable, twisted death with my eyes bug-eyed (no pun intended) and my mouth gaped open in frozen horror. Then I reminded myself yet again, that this is no scary movie and I’m not going to get bitten, but I was taking no chances.
I mean really, who moves to Southeast Asia and does not consider the fact that there are going to be bigger bugs here than in America? That was not exactly at the top of my list of considerations when I signed my teaching contract. I was more interested in the adventure and skipping out on the snow and ice that New England has to offer in the winter.
Silently thanking God that I did not have cockroach babies hatching in my stomach, I sat down on the toilet when I heard it. Ears on alert, I turned and wondered where the noise was coming from. It was not exactly a skittering, but more of a clinking on some hard surface like porcelain. I jumped up and looked down. Hanging out on the inside lip of the toilet was a cockroach, this one bigger than the other two I had just flushed. For the love of God! I screeched and ran out of the bathroom, my undies around my knees.
After that, I did a thorough check under the sink, in and around the toilet, and the shower. Once, out of desperation for wanting a shower and not wanting to use the basins (see Life Is About Trade-Offs for more details), I climbed up into my tub, turned on the water and watched a cockroach climb out of the drain. I was thoroughly disgusted and resorted to using the wash basins.
I eventually got the staff to take me seriously. I text-messaged my Thai landlord and explained the situation. To get my point across, I included a family photo of five who had all died on their backs in the center of my living room. The staff finally sprayed, DDT, and for three months I was nearly bug free. Then later, they sealed this weird cabinet in my wall that led to plumbing and the cockroaches were forced to vacate, at least until the rainy season.
For now, I could sleep easy, no longer afraid of things that go buzz in the night.