Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hanta

Recently, I’ve been privy to a large amount of hysteria surrounding hanta virus. So much so that I have decided that if I’m not already dying from hanta, I soon will be, simply because the media says that I am. You see, I live and work in Yosemite, epicenter of hanta virus, mice, and confused German tourists (my favorite will always be a confused German man, driving a massive RV, desperately asking me ‘Where is the White Wolf???’ dutifully replacing his W’s with V’s. Also, he was in the White Wolf campground when he asked. But I digress). If you watch the news, which I don’t because I don’t have TV or internet due to living and working somewhat near the middle of !@#$ing nowhere, you probably think that being in Yosemite is basically writing yourself a prescription for hanta virus pills (aka tiny mouse poops). Well, this isn’t true. At least I hope it isn’t because I don’t want to die.

I think this mouse is in the process of pooping, or seriously considering it.

My exposure to aforementioned mouse poops has been vast, like your mom, and I’m not dead yet. I feel fine. I feel happy. I will now relate these events in vivid detail.

1) While living at White Wolf, my cabin sported various holes that needed filling. My solution was to shove plastic bags in these holes. My solution with your mother, who had an analogous problem, was different, but similar. But this did not stop one mouse from still finding a way inside (my cabin. Lemmywinks will not be making an appearance.). I recall walking in the door one afternoon, and the mouse (at the time my arch nemesis, later replaced by Adolf Hitler after watching a special on the History Channel, then again replaced by the mouse after somebody told me Hitler had died) was standing in the middle of the room. You know in cartoons how the cartoon characters will turn around to run and they just run in mid-air for a while? That’s exactly what this mouse did. As I opened the door and proclaimed “BAD MOUSE!” he turned around and treaded air for a bit, finally got traction, looked like he was headed for the kitchen, but then took an unpredictable right turn into my bedroom. Never did find him, but I’d hear him running around the floor at night, and I assume he took this time to tactically poop all over my things.
 
Why did nobody TELL me?
2) Last year, while living in one of these lovely 2-bedroom trailers the park provides for seasonal workers, I spent my mornings wiping down the kitchen counters due to mouse poop accumulations in the night. I couldn’t find this mouse for the longest time, but I tried. Scrounging around the trailer for a mouse trap, I found this giant mouse trap that was apparently for a squirrel or a water buffalo or something. My initial reaction was “well this won’t work on a small little mouse!” but later I thought “…why is this in here?” I didn’t sleep for a week.

No caption needed.
3) One night in that trailer, while talking to my parents on the phone, I saw a small little lump under the blanket covering the couch. At first I thought that it was probably just some item I’d dropped that ended up under the blanket, but then in started moving. It moved up the front of the couch, then disappeared once it reached the cushions. Just the other day, I drove by my old trailer and saw that the current occupants had placed this exact couch outside and tossed out all the cushions. I’m guessing that they found the mouse megatropolis within and freaked out a little bit. Honestly, I think it was a waste of a perfectly good couch.

NAILED IT!
4) At the beginning of this season, the park was taking a while to get our Rangering credentials sorted out, so us seasonals were on the equivalent of “light duty” for a couple of weeks. One of the tasks assigned to me was to clean out the ammo locker at the Ranger station. I accepted this task, thinking it’d be an hour of fairly easy work organizing ammo by type and quantity. Instead, I opened up the locker and found a mecca of mouse poop within. Tipping my hat to my supervisor for her clever deception, I enlisted the rest of the seasonals to help “organize the ammo locker.” I don’t know what these mice were doing, but to this day I’m confident that they were eating the ammo. There is no other explanation for the copious amounts of mouse poop within. I, being the best seasonal of all time, grew a pair and volunteered to be the one to crawl inside the box and gum out the poop. We all put on masks and gloves, and tried our best to wet-down the dried poop before sucking it out with a shop vac. We were marginally successful with the wetting-down part. About three-quarters of the way through the job of wiping up dried mouse crap and using a shop vac to give the air a nice mouse-poop-particulate haze, my co-worker Patrick looked at me and said “Garet, your mask is on wrong.” I simply nodded gravely and offered him my TV for when the time came.

No Garet, it goes on like this.
5) While working out in a loft above a barn one day (this is where the gym was), Patrick decided that he wanted to incorporate push-ups into the workout. Great, I thought! I can do a pushup or two! So we did our pushups, which happened to be immediately next to this workout mat. After the workout and many pushups (which means shoving your nose into the dusty carpet over and over and breathing heavily into the ground), Patrick moved the mat and revealed a pile of mouse poo beneath that rivaled the mountain residing within the ammo locker. I would have cried, but my tear ducts were clogged with aerosolized mouse shit.

A graphical representation of what was under the mat.

6) This isn’t so much a story as a statement: Both of our ranger offices are populated by many, many mice, and mouse poop all over the desks is a fact of life. We work in the woods, and everybody poops. Especially the mice.

Anyway, these stories are trivial compared to the horrors some Rangers have told me. I’ve heard of a Ranger sleeping with his Taser next to him so he could scare the mice off of his bed by spark-testing it. Others have said they’ve woken up with mice on their faces. Still others have been unable to sleep due to the constant sound of scurrying mice in the walls and on the floors of their bedrooms. The mice are everywhere. We all aren’t dead yet. I feel for the families of those who died after contracting hanta in the park, but you have a much better chance of getting run over by a confused German national looking for The Vite Volf than you do of getting hanta. So, stupid Germans, man, running everybody over. Somebody call CNN. This is news.

And now: The News.

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