May 26, 2009

Vermin Assassin

In the course of my career in the feed industry, circumstances dictated that I become an "expert" in the field of pest control. During my stint at a feed plant in southwestern Pennsylvania, I took a state sanctioned test and became a licensed pest control operator.  Although this sounds impressive, the test was really easy, and heightened my suspicions that any lunatic could run around splashing dangerous chemicals anywhere at will.  Never the less, I was now part of a "brotherhood" and took my duties seriously.

And I applied the science that is pest control diligently at the plant. Due to it's age (built in the 1950's), the feed mill had more holes in it than a damaged colander, and being situated in  a rural area, was invaded year round by every pest imaginable.  My tools were snap traps for the mice and rats, and a gun for the birds.  Yes, I said a gun. I bought a small caliber rifle and when loaded with scatter shot, I could knock birds out of the rafters before they could shit on finished bags of animal feed, keeping them in pristine condition for a customer to store in his barn and have the birds there shit on them. I'd always wait until everyone went home, and then hunt birds inside the mill. On one occasion, I herded a flock of disease ridden pigeons into the top of a stairwell and, standing just outside the doorway, blasted away at them until all that remained was a bloody pile of avian carcasses.  By the way, that was a real fucking mess to clean up.

But, my greatest achievement was a total plant fumigation one hot 4th of July. Fumigation involves sealing the plant airtight (good luck with that place) and then pouring out gas pellets at various spots and letting them work their magic for 48 hours.  Theoretically, you open the place up to air after the allotted time, and marvel at all of the dead bugs, rats, mice, birds and a few unfortunate vagrants. Seriously, I did have to worry about this because we did have a few bums who set up camp in the plant on off days.

So, after convincing my boss, the local fire department and generally everyone else in town that the gas I was going to use was not the same stuff that the Nazi SS used to exterminate the Jews during WWII (but it kinda, sorta was), I was able to seal the plant, set off the gas and enjoy the 4th of July holiday, punctuated with nightmares about opening the plant on Monday morning and finding the bodies of dead bums who came back to life as flesh eating zombies and pursued me to the end of my days for causing their terrible fate.

And on Monday morning, I opened the plant, and armed with my not-so-trusty gas detector, walked into several pockets of gas, resulting in me lying on the outside dock for several hours with only minor hallucinations and drinking can after can of Coca-Cola until I could wobble away, thankful to be alive.  By the way, a big shout-out to all my concerned fellow employees who left me laying there without summoning medical help.

And the results of my effort?  Less than spectacular.  Less than a week later the vertebrate and invertebrate intruders were back with a vengeance.  I went on to do one more fumigation at another of our plants in central Illinois, which through my heroic efforts of combining foot stomping and water throwing, involved only a short-lived smoky blaze that hardly did any damage at all.

But I'm still trying to forget about that one, so I won't go into it here.

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