Are You A Rat?
We're living in a world where it's becoming more and more difficult to find privacy. As such, it's also becoming more and more difficult to find people willing to mind their own business. As people become more and more urbanized with their accommodations, we're living in smaller and smaller dwellings. Fifty years ago in Canada, the majority of people lived in their own homes rather than apartments or condominiums. Now the majority live in apartments or condominiums, rather than their own homes. What I can't get past is how it's becoming increasing difficult to find privacy when your neighbours can hear everything you're doing . . . We live in smaller and smaller spaces. Often I can feel crowded. Many people, especially retirees with nothing to do, even go out of their way to eavesdrop in on their neighbours for the sake of entertainment.
Which brings me to the title of this hubpage: Are you a rat?
What Is A Rat?
Nobody will ever admit they’re a rat. A rat is a person that loves to tattletale on every single inconvenience. A rat is the type of person that calling the police is actually an enjoyable and empowering experience rather than an intimidating process. A rat is a person that relentlessly comes up with silly reasons to bring people to court. A rat takes little shame in blowing away tax dollars after tax dollars on such adventures, and may even preach how it's their God given right to do so. A rat is that hockey player who delivers a little cheap shot while the referee isn't looking. I suspect there are more than our fair share of rats reading this hub, but of course, they will be the first to tuck their arms behind their backs and say "not me."
What makes dealing with rats incredibly difficult is their passive aggressive style can never be confronted directly due to perceptions from greater society. If you retaliate, you'll be seen as the aggressor. You'll fall into the trap laid out by the rat. Confronting rats about the issue is of little use, it's amusing to rats to see you upset over their schemes, you'll simply further encourage the behaviour. To fight a rat you must be a snake . . .
Defeating The Rat Queen. . .
Eight years ago, as typical for "life" in your early 20's, I was living in a dainty overpriced apartment room. From the view of my windowsill, I could see the trailer park, along with kids scraping their knees playing in the parking lot. Gaston Rd. was a picturesque underclass street. Located on the outskirts of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, the street veers upwards onto a hill that has an incline so steep, you could drop a ball at the very top of the hill and the momentum would carry the ball all the way down to the Bedford basin.
At the very top of the hill, out of sight from the main street, is the trailer park. Basically, poor people with drug and alcohol problems. Somewhere tucked in the middle was where I was nesting. My living arrangements were remodeled late 19th and early 20th century hotels that were converted into apartments. Basically, poor people without drug and alcohol problems. Finally, at the very bottom of the hill, was typical lower-middle class to middle class housing units. These were formally poor people, who became not so poor anymore by selling drugs to the growing trailer park. We had a church that was used for all things political, rather than religious. We also had a convenience store ran by a guy who attempted to go from unethical business to honourable business, had to charge $3.00 for a 2L soda to make decent margins, and would often lament about how this was a mistake.
At that time I was seeing a young woman who had an incredulous appetite for stealing. Out of habit, she would steal materials that were of modest value at best, and then sell the material for a buck fifty on E-Bay. She cared little for making any money off of her five fingered discounting enterprise. She sold the material cheaply on E-Bay to get rid of it expediently and relieve herself of the evidence. The E-Bay selling also served well for plausible deniability. From her perspective, the stealing was all one giant thrill ride. For a fact I know eight years later she is still continuing this "hobby" and has been caught just once.
For those who are wondering why I would be in a relationship with such a woman for an entire year, I will say that for the longest time I overlooked her stealing habits for the sake of her other attributes. She was an ambitious woman with a sharp mind. She had unparallel energy and charisma. Although she would come across as harsh to most people (especially women), she treated me exceptionally well, and would defend my position to whatever end. She had a strong sense of humor and she wasn't demanding at all.
I would have continued the relationship probably to this day had I’ve been able to afford it. Reality came crashing down when stuff in my apartment starting randomly disappearing and a power bill came in. The power bill stated that if I didn't pay up the lights will go out in twelve days. I was poor and dirt broke. I couldn't afford to lose any items, even ten dollars was enormous for someone such as me who literally had to pinch every penny in order to survive. It was at this point I decided to end the relationship.
The result was a lot of typical screaming and hollering, damage to many of my now limited supplies of items, and a lot of subsequent drama. We often got into many fights of both the physical and verbal variety (she is 5'9, decently built, and could easily hold her own). Usually I liked our fights, we blew off our surplus adrenaline and then would tell each other jokes. From there, it doesn't take much of an imagination to figure out what happened next. Only this time the fight wasn't like two little bear cubs who wrestle each other for amusement, it was real.
Through tenacity and a great deal of patience, I managed to steer my former lover all the way to the door of my apartment, where I was hoping to say my final goodbye. My neighbour next door, an elderly woman in her 80's, could be seen with her door opened watching over the entire incident. Turns out my former girlfriend wasn't going to make this as easy as I thought. I expediently check my pocket and realize that something is missing. Before she was about to depart, I immediately grab her by the shoulder and tug at her back pocket, an area I know for a fact she often places items she recently steals. She was stealing a family heirloom of mine, and I wasn't about to let that happen. As I was tugging at her back pocket to extract the item, she immediately screamed in a mocking fashion, and then turned her head to me with a smile on her face. She whispered in my ear how she found this "fun," but I resisted, no longer can I afford to do this anymore. I took back the item that was rightfully mine and yelled at her to get the hell out. My elderly neighbour, still eavesdropping in on the entire incident, immediately slams shut her apartment room door. Eventually my former lover resigns her position and leaves my apartment complex. I then go back into my room, take a deep breath in and out, and I have a nice soda. I attempt to relax, relieved that what is a stressful situation is now finished. Or so I thought . . .
No more than thirty minutes later, I hear an abrupt knock on my apartment room door. I take a peak out of the cubbyhole and come across a sight that brings a chill up my spine. I open the door, and what stands before me is a giant of a man in police uniform. The police officer immediately interrogates me on the spot. Apparently someone reported that I've been "domestically abusing a woman." I tried to stay as honest as I could, and explained that I simply broke up with my girlfriend and she has now left. Of course, this didn't stop the officer from taking a few steps into my apartment to "check out a few things" (poor people who rent don't have any property rights). He handed me over his business card and then left my apartment in a fashionable display of wasted tax dollars and time.
Shortly after the officer left, I spent a few minutes contemplating just who could have ratted me out. It wasn't difficult to connect the dots. My ex-girlfriend was certainly in no position to be calling the police due to her past history. Besides, it wasn't in her character to pull such a stunt. There was a certain "honour amongst thieves" allure to her personality. Then I remembered the old lady next door who was keenly observing me breaking up with my girlfriend. I remember how she handed me over a rather sour look. By the process of elimination, I have found my rat . . .
For a while I contemplated what I should do over the situation. Confronting the old hag over the issue wouldn't accomplish much, and I'm not about to beat up a 5'1 old lady! She was a rat who was beating me with experience . . . Eventually I had to resign to the fact there was nothing I could do, but I told myself if the opportunity presented itself for me to creatively beat her at her own game, I would take it . . .
That opportunity came, in the most unlikely of places, when I visited my mother the coming weekend. My mother has two cats. One cat is a furry beach ball weighing approximately 30 lbs. A late Sunday afternoon, this cat somehow managed to catch and kill a mouse. I have no idea how he pulled this off, perhaps he was simply sleeping and happened to haphazardly roll over a mouse that was passing by. After all, the mouse carcass was flattened like a rug. My mother ordered me to dispose of the rodent outside. However, I had other plans on what to do with the corpse of this animal. I did go outside with the mouse, but rather than bury the corpse, I stuffed it in an envelope. I wrote on a small piece of paper the word "rat," and placed that paper into the envelope. I then proceeded to drive to my apartment where, I deposited this letter into the mailbox of the old ratty hag. I knew for a fact she was out on a cruise and would come back Monday morning. All smiles, I continued on with the rest of my weekend as if nothing had happened.
The next morning, I deliberately set my alarm clock to 5:30am, "old people hours." Although the hours were a pain, I wouldn't miss the coming action for the world. I was meticulously checking over my watch for the anticipated 6:00am deadline I suspected the rat would arrive home. She didn't disappoint. At roughly a minute past the hour, she let out a scream so loud that it shook the entire foundation of the building, waking everyone up from their sleep.
Since that day, I never had any problems with her eavesdropping for as long as I lived there. I wish I could say she learned her lesson, but alas, instead she switched over to constantly gossiping about the kids of another neighbour and spreading false rumours accordingly. Rats are incredibly resilient animals and difficult to kill . . .
And what about the ex-girlfriend with a Winona Ryder complex? Surely a guy like I had a clever plan of revenge for that as well? Well, I did, but that's another story for another hub. You can't expect me to tell all of the stories at once now . . .
-Donovan D. Westhaver