Indiana Jones feared snakes, Casablanca Dave apparently doesn’t care much for rats. Giant rats which drag tails the size of baby arms; rats that make Willard look like the recently deceased Taco Bell Chihuahua (Rest in Peace you 90s icon); rats that make you wonder what the hell little Michael Jackson saw in his pet rat Ben (if it’s not “too soon,” insert MJ joke now). Fievel might have gone west, but the rest of the rats are hunkering down right in the heart of Toronto.
So, I went back to the illegal dumping site today to get a better look:
Though it's not completely visible at this angle, in the bottom lefthand corner, and I shit you not, is an open bag of shit. This is not the cutesy garbage I thought I was going to explore. This is dirty, filthy trash that not even Oscar the Grouch would tolerate.
I didn’t get too close to this nasty pile as I was wearing my new Old Navy flip-flops (as all good adventurers do) and didn’t want to risk flesh-eating disease getting in through my toenails. Besides, the minute I arrived on the scene, a family of hedgehog sized rats came flying out of the pile and into the surrounding bush. For a moment I thought they were charging me, but this would have been far too dramatic to be true. As I walked the railway tracks home—don’t worry safety police, Via Rail went on strike today too—I realized what a big fat baby I was becoming.
My “eww” reaction to the rats surprised me since I never really considered them something to “fear”—in four years of a zoology degree I probably rooted around the large intestine of a dozen or so large white rats; I even recall a lovely three hour lab tweezering through fresh rat feces in the search for parasite eggs. I consider myself to have a pretty high tolerance for creepy crawlers and last night heroically* killed a bunch of spiders and a moth in my apartment, the latter of which unexpectedly had guts that looked like a Kraft Caramel. Alas, I did all this with nary a flinch.
But call me conservative, there is something about a big fangy rat bursting from a crap pile that makes me wonder how much longer Toronto can go on like this. It’s now day 34 of this CUPE strike; even Gandhi's hunger strikes didn't go on this long, and CUPE, I saw Gandhi, I knew Gandhi; Gandhi was a friend of mine. CUPE, you're no Gandhi.**
What started as potentially gross has now become potentially plague inducing. Parks are closed, social assistance paperwork isn’t getting filled out, people are blaming EMS workers for heart-attack deaths, union workers are punching people at garbage drop sites, and that 16 year old lifeguard blogging for The Star is showing me up with her good writing, mature perspective and first hand knowledge of the city strike. Meanwhile the rats are having a big old laugh as they develop our taste for convenience.
Frig, I should go wash my feet.
And speaking of feet, here are the footnotes.
*Heroically because my girlfriend watched me do it! Nothing shows you're a man like killing bugs in front of a woman. And unlike Indiana Jones’s girls, I am pretty sure mine won’t turn out to be a Nazi.
**One of the top 5 most obscure allusions. I barely even understand it. Lloyd Bentsen on Dan Quayle anyone? Anyone?