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Mpls, MN, United States

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Incidents & Accidents

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dear Landlord,

Hi! How are you? Personally, I'm a little peeved. First, because it's the middle of March and I'm completely over these subzero temps (though they are predicting 50s by Monday, which is a huge relief). Second, because the mice are back.

Yesterday, I noticed a sudden preponderance of their... evidence... under my sink, and so carefully cleaned and disinfected everything. Yesterday evening, I heard rustling, and so sneaked up to my sink, opened the cupboard door--and saw the mouse in the corner. Startled, I flung the door closed--and then, examining the afterimage seared onto my brain, realized to my horror that there had been another mouse, in the trashcan, its furry silhouette visible against the white of the liner.

I did what I usually do in these circumstances (you will recall, dear Landlord, a long and unfortunate history with these things) and went next door. M had both mousetraps and sympathy, which I accepted gratefully.

I baited and positioned the traps, and as of last night hadn't caught anything. This morning, however, the check revealed both traps full. I had things to do (as one does), so I put off the unpleasant task of emptying them.

However, when I reached the point in my fellowship application writing that disposing of mouse corpses seemed preferable to staring at my laptop screen any longer, I put on my boots, steeled my nerves, and opened the cupboard door again--only to be greeted by a tiny mouseling, perched on the edge of the trashcan. My shout of shock and outrage either didn't faze him at all or stunned him into immobility; he just pointed his oversized ears at me and stared, miniature nose twitching. I cursed the fact that I had ever read The Tale of Despereaux, and that now I was even considering this small pest an "orphan" (at my hands, nonetheless!).

To make a long story shorter, after more silent standing-off and indecision over what to do, the mouseling climbed off the trashcan and disappeared into the black hole that connects all four units. I disposed of the occupied traps (jaw clenched and barely fending off the full-body shudders--you'll recall, dear Landlord, that I am a sensitive, conscientious, quasi-vegan, pacifist), again cleaned and disinfected the area, washed my hands several times, and am now writing you.

Because I've reached a solution. I'm putting a bounty on these mice.

I've decided that $50 per head is reasonable. If I were a slovenly person--storing bags of grain in the house, say, as the hippie downstairs neighbors did, and not noticing that the mice were feeding from them while breeding a colony that would only move north to my kitchen upon the crazy hippies' departure--or were otherwise welcoming vermin to share my space, this might be considered excessive. However, dear Landlord, I am not, and I am tired of dealing with this uncompensated.

If you had called an exterminator at any point during the past three years; if you had been more conscientious about the upkeep of this building (which I understand is old--and which I love for its antiquity--but the ceiling of which, to cite a single example, is about to cave in next door); or if I were feeling generally more charitable, I'd continue letting this go, as I have in the past.

As it is, I won't bill you for the--oh, 20?--mice I've already dealt with (at the price of a callus on my soul). But I will be taking $100 off my rent for next month (provided, that is, that I don't have to produce and dispose of any more corpses, although we already know at least one mouse remains). I will continue to keep my kitchen clean, disinfected, and as unattractive to mice as possible.

If you would hire an actual professional to come assess and remedy the situation, you might be able to make things better for all of us. As it is, I'm guessing that you won't, and would prefer to pay me (especially if I don't file a written complaint with the city, to which lengths a neighbor was recently driven). It's not pleasant for either of us, but as long as I'm doing someone else's job (at the expense of my own--remember that fellowship application?), I might as well receive some compensation.

Thanks, dear Landlord, and stay warm!


Curly Sue said...

Wow, 20?! You have a colony.

Have you seen Ratatouille?

CëRïSë said...

Ah, well, probably slightly fewer than 20, and over the past three years. But, yes, it was definitely a colony for a while.

And I did see Ratatouille, right after the worst of the Mouse Wars, actually. It felt a little weird.

Ellen said...

Yeah Curly Sue, I don't think that's helpful at all.

Carissa J said...

Did you really give this to your landlord? I hope so. And I can't wait to hear the response.

I'll be in MSP for approximately 35 minutes tonight, unless I miss my plane, which would extend my stay until tomorrow morning. I'll think good wishes toward you and your mouse wars as I run wildly through the airport.

CëRïSë said...

I haven't sent it yet; this was practice (and requires editing before sending!).

I hope you do make your plane, but call me if you don't--my couch is comfy and close!

The Churches said...

Dear Ceri,

I am so sorry to hear of your misadventures, however in reading this narrative I am enjoying myself hugely! Thanks for a better day; mine doesn't seem so bad since I'm not the one extricating tiny mouse bodies from death-traps.

Yours Mouse Affectionately,

PS. I'm fairly certain that if Bear Grylls were to use your apartment as a survival episode, he would be roasting those suckers over an open fire. Free-range... grain-fed... Delish!

Ern said...

Blech! I hope your landlord agrees to the bounty. It seems reasonable to me.

I Hope So said...

$50 per head is totally reasonable.

and now i am going to attempt to not lose my lunch.


Heather said...

I hear that landlords in WW are super cheap and mouse-free.

strovska said...

i hope you don't edit too much before sending--i like it as is (although i'm not a landlord).

bear grylls grilling (grylling? har!) them over a trash-can fire is a funny mental image, though.

nmrboy said...


or, possibly not.

my experience (ha!) as a university semi-employee, and having to deal with landlord issues a fair amount, is to say that refusing to pay rent is the worst thing you can do. or at least in the uk it is; it means that should you take the matter to court, which is the logical place for it to go, you are guilty of breaking your contract too and thus just as guilty, and your case holds no water. continue to pay, write detailed letter upon detailed letter, take notes of times and numbers, take photos, keep copies, and stack up the evidence of neglect. to take it any further you need to be unimpeachable.

i guess you could try including the mouse corpses with your letters as 'evidence' of your problem. if they come with the property, but you're not specifically renting the mice, i guess they belong to the landlord, after all. so you're just returning them.


Anonymous said...

You are hysterical! I think you are underestimating your newly acquired skills. $75 a head would be more appropriate :) db