Thursday, June 26, 2008

That Squirrel Thought I Was Nuts.

Never a dull moment, I tell ya.

The Useless Dildos at Chicago Animal Control never got off their sweet roll-consuming fat butts to come investigate the unidentifiable home invader that set up camp in my apartment this morning. They caught and killed a fucking cougar in Roscoe Village last month and suddenly think they're Rambos and not going to bother with the plight of a totally distraught little damsel (me) and her fretting young son (Luke).

We had just settled into "Supernanny" for our weekly dose of When Kids Attack, when Luke saw a squirrel scurry across the dining room. Once it heard my blood-curdling scream, it ran into the living room, where it first hid under the entertainment center. The first thing we did was make a run for my office, where my phone was charging, then into Luke's room, where we shut the door and called 911.

Dispatcher: "Chicago 911, what is your emergency?"
Me: "There is a LIVE squirrel running around my living room."
Dispatcher: "So."
Me: "So help me! I'm alone with a small child and we're terrified! Can't you send the police or something?"
Dispatcher: "Get a broom."
Me: "I can't catch it!"
Dispatcher (sighing): "I'll put you through to Animal Control. Hold please."

Cue Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," followed by a cheerful female recorded voice.

"Thank you for calling 3-1-1, Chicago's OTHER Help Line. Currently, all of our operators are busy stalling other City of Chicago residents. Your call will be answered in the unlikely event Ed actually makes it back from his break on time. If you have an actual emergency and require Chicago Police or Fire, please hang up and dial 9-1-1, Chicago's Honest to Christ Help Line, unless, of course, you've already tried, in which case, you're pretty much fucked."

Animal Control: "Chicago Animal Control, how can I help you?"
Me: "There is a LIVE! SQUIRREL! in my living room."
Animal Control: "Would you like to file a report?"
Me: "I did that at 9:45 this morning and no one ever came. That was when it was in my attic. Now it's IN! MY! LIVING! ROOM!"
Animal Control: "Ma'am, what is your address?"
Me: "Blah Blah N. Yackety Yack Lane."
Animal Control: "The report is still open and we've labeled it an emergency, but we'll put it in the system again, I guess. Maybe someone will come out tonight."
Me: "Now. I need someone to come NOW."
Animal Control (chuckling): "Oh, I'm sorry, ma'am, I doubt anyone is going to come now. Did you get a broom?"
Me (under my breath): "Fuck you."

Next plan. Tried Wes, my strong, capable Chicago Firefighter close friend, with whom I left 2 messages and a text to his wife this afternoon about said problem. No luck.

Tried calling my ex, Craig. Not home. Actually, probably home, heard my hysterical message, laughed and said there was no way in hell he was coming over to rescue me from THIS one, for this shit is priceless!

Called my friend, Brad! Surely he can help! So what if he lives in VIRGINIA. We'd been chatting during the day about the issue, so why not?

Me: "Brad! There's a squirrel running around loose in my house!"
Brad (stifling laughter): "Ahhhh!"
Me: "I don't know what to do, I called 911 and Animal Control and no one will help."
Brad: "Get a broom and swoosh it out the door."
Me: "I can't! I'm paralyzed with fear!"
Brad: "Oh Jesus. You walk past squirrels every day and they don't bother you."
Me: "Yeah, but they're not usually IN! MY! HOUSE! The birds are in the living room! It's gonna eat the birds!"
Brad: "Squirrels don't eat birds. How many bird skeletons do you see on the ground every day?"
Me: "Ok, true, but WAAAAH."
Brad: "You'll be fine."
Me: "I'll let you know what happens."

Ok, next plan.

I finally got the ballyhooed broom and gave Luke the Swiffer, and we quietly peered into the living room, but the squirrel was hiding (and laughing at us). The birds, meanwhile, were obliviously chirping on, safe and unfettered. I opened the back door. Then I called Animal Control again.

Animal Control: "Yes, we have your report, Ms. Miklasz. No, no one is coming tonight. Someone will come tomorrow and place a trap in your house."
Me: "A trap? You mean you just leave a trap and you don't shoo it out?"
Animal Control: "Right. Call us back when the squirrel is in the trap, and we'll send someone out to collect it. Have you tried a broom?"
Me: "YES, but the squirrel is HIDING. Wait, you mean I have to wait again once it's dead in the trap for you to come and get it?"
Animal Control: "Yes."
Me (under my breath): "Fuck that."

(I then reiterated my "But I'm a single-mom with child" sob story, and asked how we are supposed to sleep in the house with a squirrel scampering about. For good measure, I threw in the frightened parakeets.)

Animal Control: "Oh, you have birds? Why don't you let them fly around your house so that the squirrel comes out and tries to catch them? Then you can run the squirrel outside!"

Where does one begin to dissect the gargantuan flaws in the Animal Control operator's logic?

Me: "First of all, I'm not running Noah's Fucking Ark in here. Second of all, the birds, which are my PETS, will fly OUT THE DOOR never to be SEEN AGAIN."

Animal Control: "Ok, then that's a bad idea."
Me: "D'ya think?"
Animal Control: "Maybe someone will come tomorrow. I know that's probably not what you wanted me to say."
Me: "Exactly."
Animal Control: "Good luck!"
Me (under my breath): "Fuck you. Fuck the squirrel. Fuck the Mayor. Fuck the City. Fuck all of you."


Then I called my Mommy and explained the issue. Finally, someone with a shred of sympathy!

Ma: "Did you call Wes?"
Me: "Yeah, he's not home."
Ma: "Christopher?"
Me: "No, he's probably busy with his kid."
Ma: "Bob?"
Me: "No answer."
Ma: "Craig?"
Me: "Not home. Neither is Don. But I did call Brad."
Ma: "Doesn't he live in another state?"
Me: "Yeah, well, anyway..."
Ma (on soapbox): "I can't believe Animal Control. In a big city like this? And they can't send one guy out for a squirrel? That's ridiculous! You should complain to the Mayor's office. And write to that 'My Problem and How I Fixed It' column in the Tribune. Open the doors and windows and see if the squirrel will jump."
Me: "But Ma, I can't! I'm paralyzed with fear!"
Ma: "Oh, Annie! Make sure it doesn't bite Lucas! Squirrels can be rabid! And Cook County has rabid bats again! And rats!"

At that point, my mom's level of anxiety was approaching mine (think of those color-coded levels of terror issued by US Homeland Security), so I thought it best to end the conversation and return to my plan of attack. But not before my mom suggested I try and call Jeff, the maintenance guy at our church/Luke's school.

I figured what the hell, I could always add Jeff to the list of All The Men I Know Who Are Not Presently Solving My Extremely Emergent Problem.

Cartwheels!!! Jeff was home! Jeff lives nearby! Jeff has household squirrel removal experience! Jeff realizes that a kid, a wimp, a Swiffer and a broom are no match for a rascally rodent!

While Jeff was en route, I finally talked to Christopher (the boyfriend), who tried to calmly soothe me but also urged me not to piss the squirrel off any or scare him any more than he already was.

Chris: "I know this may be hard to believe, but the squirrel is 50,000 times more afraid of you than you are of it."
Me: "No it isn't."
Chris: "You have two choices. You and Luke sleep in a room with the door closed, where you will be perfectly safe, and wait for Animal Control tomorrow, or go sleep at your mom's. Or leave your back door open all night, but frankly, I'd be then more worried about the crack heads downstairs than the squirrel."

Me: "Jeff's here, gotta go!!!!"

Jeff arrived with 2 big buckets, a slim slab of wood, a pair of gloves and fierce determination. The squirrel continued to cower behind the sofa. Jeff pulled the sofa out from against the wall, causing the squirrel to dart across the room by my little decorative bench full of Completely Odd Stuffed Animals. Then back behind the sofa. Then back by the bench. Then back behind the sofa. Then back behind the bench.

Luke and I stood watching Jeff and the squirrel's living room volley from the safety of the kitchen, still clutching the Swiffer and broom. "Aha!," Jeff thought. "If I could just get the window and screen open by the bench, I bet I can get him to jump out."

Sure enough, by volley #24, the squirrel leaped onto the bench, over my steroid-pumped giant stuffed cardinal, and Out. The. Window. Gone. All on the night before Jeff was leaving town on vacation. Thank you, heavens above, thank you!

What a night to have Luke recharging the batteries in his video camera, for this movie would've been the shit. It took my son till close to midnight to decompress and get to bed, and I'm running on adrenaline at 1:20 in the morning, still exhausted from yesterday's aforementioned Hostile Day of Hormonal PMS Hell.

The squirrel, the Animal Control Commissioner and I are all lucky the animal wrangling took place today versus yesterday, for my only phone call would've been from the County lockup to Chris to procure bail money, with an aggravated assault of a City official charge on my rap sheet and squirrel niblets dangling from my blood-soaked fangs.

You totally know that squirrel survived the suicide drop and is now twitching to all the other squirrels in the neighborhood about how they "totally have to break into Andrea's house because she's a total freaking basketcase nutjob with a kid, who gets spooked really, really, really easily. And dude, she has a Jacuzzi and an autographed picture of Mandy Patinkin! Solid!"

I really, really hope tomorrow brings some peace and clarity, because I've had just an absolutely wretched last 48 hours. I've managed to mishandle, misread, mistake or miscommunicate nearly every thought, word and deed in my existence and am wearily parched, searching for an oasis.

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