A 13-week-old dog in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. recently died from a disease transmitted by rodent urine. Residents have long been frustrated by the rodent problem, but this has tipped the scales for Foggy Bottom Association President Marina Streznewski. The dog was her pet, and now the rat problem is personal. The association has been working to get the rat problem under control for a while, but now she is reaching out to other local groups with proposals they work together. She’s also pushing for new compactor trash cans that block rodents from getting into the garbage. Rats can easily climb the current typical trash can models and access waste just lying at the top. Efforts are being made to put a grant program into place for businesses so they can more easily purchase the new trash cans. But, the rodent problem won’t be solved by new trash cans alone. Bushes must be cleared, rat burrows must be treated, and neighborhoods must work together if they hope to get the rodent infestation under control.
As a local handyman for hire, Tyler sees a lot of weird things, and it’s not unusual for him to be called to a customer’s home to take care of some problem or other, and have it turn out to be something completely different. A “loose roof shingles” call may end up as a raccoon in the attic, accessing the space through a hole the raccoon tore in the soffit. In another service call, an air conditioner unit that only worked sometimes was actually caused by a squirrel chewing through the wiring. That one was sobering, because if Tyler hadn’t spotted the problem quickly, it could have resulted in a home fire or it could have electrocuted someone.
Once, Tyler got a call from a guy who didn’t want to tell him any specifics over the phone. He just insisted on having a handyman come over and investigate the attic. When Tyler got there, the man offered no further explanation other than he had heard odd noises at night coming from the attic. He was so hesitant to explain the problem, and he was obviously terrified.
Finally, Tyler put him at ease and the man confessed. “I think it’s the ghost of my grandmother.”
That was a new one. And, Tyler wondered, just what was a handyman supposed to do about a ghost in the attic?
The man went on to explain that he had inherited the house from his grandmother, who had passed away two years ago. He had lived among her things for a time, and finally got up the courage to pack up her keepsakes and stash them in the attic. He’d done that almost exactly a year ago, and now he was hearing noises above his head each night and sometimes in the early morning. He’d lost sleep over it, and was too afraid to confront the ghost in his attic. Apparently, his grandmother had not been a very nice or understanding woman.
Fortunately, Tyler didn’t believe in ghosts and good-naturedly climbed the stairs up into the attic. In the end, he almost wished it had been a ghost. He was not prepared to find hundreds of bats in the attic. His flashlight and movements disturbed the roosting bats in the attic, and they swarmed, hitting his head and face and shoulders in their panic. He’d never seen so many bats in an attic, and it was all he could do not to scream as he climbed back down the stairs and explained what was really going on to his client. The man was relieved it wasn’t the specter of an angry grandmother, but it was just bats in his attic. Tyler felt differently. He made it out to his truck, where he allowed himself a mild freak-out attack before calling Allstate Animal Control to get the bats out of the attic.