NYC Reality: facing my most deepest and darkest NYC fear – a mouse!

I knew cooking French keto food in my kitchenette-less lower Manhattan apartment was a bad idea! I thought the smell would invariably attract a “dead” rat on my staircase or a family of roaches in my bathroom. But, no! It turned out that my French cooking brought home the scariest pest of NYC – a mouse!

As I was dealing with some health issues on a very quiet Sunday afternoon, I heard the shuffling noise of plastics from my pantry. It felt like a living thing, a lot larger than a roach, was going through my dry foods. First reaction – I froze. Second reaction – panic fueled with high adrenaline leading to me deliberately hopping in front of my pantry to scare the thing. It worked. A tiny, brown shadow ran from my pantry shelves towards my closet and disappeared under the darkness of the door.

Dear Lord! I have a mouse!

I stood there strategizing my next move. I jumped up and down again and then quickly opened the closet door. Nothing happened. I pulled out the first thing I found – a black pair of jeans and a black shirt (yes, we wear a lot of black here in Manhattan). Then as soon as I was ready, I quickly looked up 5 ways to get rid of mice in NYC apartment on my phone – ultra-sonicator, mint oil, putting all grains and dry foods in hard plastic/metal containers, setting up traps and closing any and all cracks and holes in the apartment.

Easier said than done! After going through pest control isles of Home Depot, Target and Jack’s 99, I could only achieve 4 out of those 5. The ultra-sonicator was a complete fail. The mouse pretty much ignored the peanut butter in the trap and just searched for the bag of very greasy and salty potato chips it chewed through before. Of course, I threw that away the moment I found tiny pieces of plastic from the bag.

As I woke up the next morning, I could remember that I had a nightmare where the mouse jumped on my face trying to eat my eyelids! Feeling exhausted, I reached the lab. Surprisingly, my lab mates’ reactions cheered me up!

Soonhee, the visual researcher, immediately started looking for mouse traps on the internet! Her concern was how to get rid of the mouse alive or dead after it was caught.

Rosa, the Graduate student who turned down an offer from Cambridge to join Columbia, and who very closely reminds me of Phoebe Bouffe from “Friends”, because of her vegetarian diet, straight long hair parted in the middle and a tall, slim figure with a kind face, told me – “I had a mouse once.”

I asked, “Did your cats take care of the mouse?”

Rosa answered – “Dhru, you know me. I closed my bedroom door, shut the cats out and slept in the same room with the mouse to save him from my cats.”

Tetsu, the calmest of them all, a graduate student who just had a paper accepted in PNAS, said very slowly and softly – “You have a mouse? Is it a pet?”

I replied – “I wish! In that case it would be caged and be controlled! Now I’m just worried that it’s going to chew off my passport and visa!” – which invariably led to a discussion of international scientists and the anxiety related to their visa situations.

Zak, the F32-winning postdoc said, matter-of-factly, “Oh yeah, I had a couple of those at some point.”

My mouth fell open “A COUPLE?”

Zak laughed – “Of course! It’s New York! They were going for my almond butter.”

So, in summary, everyone who lived in New York permanently more than I ever have, encountered a mouse situation. This made me feel way better. Perhaps, I will be ok. Perhaps, the mouse will go away on its own if it doesn’t find any food.

I realized, now I truly, undoubtedly and irrevocably understand why they say this about New York – “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

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