A comment on Kath‘s post yesterday about finding a baby roach in her home sent me straight down memory lane . . .
After graduating college and taking the obligatory year off (no I wasn’t spoiled, I graduated college a year early and spent the year alternatively trying to act and teaching multiple handicapped kids while applying to grad school and living with my mom and lil sister), I started grad school in Los Angeles. After commuting back and forth from my boyfriend’s house in Santa Barbara for about a month (craziness, 2.5 hour drive with traffic), I finally found an apartment I could afford on my skimpy student loan budget. The “Jr. one-bedroom” was in a restored classic building in the Mid-Wilshire district. Rent, including a parking spot, was $600 per month, dirt cheap for LA. The building was beautiful, the area was only slightly dodgy and the walls were thin as I found out when my neighbor decided to play Sade over and over and over again one night.
Turns out that the building wasn’t as “restored” as I believed. While many classic buildings had been gutted and had their interiors rebuilt, mine had only received a cosmetic facelift. About a month into my 6 month lease I learned this fact when I noticed a cockroach scuttling across my floor. I don’t mean to go all girl on you here but eeeeeeeWWWWWWWWW! I called the building manager and they very quickly sent someone up to spray the apartment (too quickly perhaps?).
I saw no more roaches for about two weeks, then they reappeared. While I was at class one day, my boyfriend was at my apartment building me a closet (I had a walk-in but no racks or shelves). He had taken a shower and for whatever reason was sitting naked on the floor in front of the TV when he noticed something tickling his rear-end – yep, you guessed it – he was being befriended by a friendly cockroach. More spraying ensued and night lights were installed to forego stepping on a cockroach in the middle of the night.
During this time I also started being awakened at 6 am every morning by the cooing of pigeons. A building grate had come off and a flock of pigeons had taken up residence in the ceiling above my head. I soon learned from the bug spray man who was rapidly becoming my best friend that cockroaches feed on pigeon droppings. Lovely. And pigeon droppings are toxic so “you better keep your windows closed.” OK, so I can’t open my windows even though you’re spraying my apartment on a bi-weekly basis with toxic roach spray. Hmmm.
By month four, the carpet was so toxic it was unsafe to go barefoot, I was getting headaches from the chemicals and the roaches kept coming. One day when I was studying on my futon couch/bed, a cockroach the size of a Buick ran across my comforter. Full crying, sobbing breakdown ensued.
My boyfriend came down from Santa Barbara and we went apartment shopping the next day. After two weeks we found an apartment we could jointly afford (who ever thought people would move-in together because of cockroaches?), I gave notice, called the health department to report the place and bailed.
I call this a learning experience. On the plus side, I’m pretty immune to cockroaches at this point. I also know to act quickly to get rid of the very first one you see before they take up residence and multiply. And in retrospect – ok, and at the time – the thought of my boyfriend having a cockroach scratching his naked bottom and his resulting horror and 5 foot jump up is pretty darn funny.
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