Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Over the last couple of weeks, there’s been suspicious, intermittent rustling (or – gulp – is it gnawing?) in one of my office walls. It doesn’t last long. It doesn’t seem to occur every day or every night. Yet there it is, rustle-rustle (gnaw-gnaw???), disturbing my peace.

I’ve lived in here for 25+ years now, and in that time, we’ve had one – count ‘em – one mouse. Which is a pretty good record, given that the building is 160 years old, and is built on reclaimed, should-be-water, land. Where someone or another is always doing a gut reno, or the streets are always being dug up so new pipes can be set in, which tends to set off a riot of dislodged rodents looking for new digs.

A mouse or two I can live with. (Been there, done that.)

But rats.

Now, there’s a rodent of an entirely different color.

Hey, I’m a city dweller, and I see occasional rats – dead or alive. I see them flattened on the street, scurrying into bushes, slithering down sewer drains. Bad enough seeing them on the outside. The thought of one actually being inside. Where I live. Beyond yuck. We’re talking uninhabitable. (Decades ago, I worked in a rat-ridden restaurant where, the moment the floor was quiet, they all seemed to push their whiskery little snouts out of their rat holes to see if there was a scrap of fish or oyster to be had. And where they were sometimes found blocking drains. That was bad enough. And I was just working there – not living there. It was not my lay-me-down-to-sleep place.)

Beyond the occasional rustling (gnawing?), I have detected no rodent signs: no scat, not holes, no chewed loaf of bread. And I don’t smell a rat.

Anyway, I’m writing this on a Saturday, and the exterminator will have been and gone on MOnday. (Would have been here by now, but Billy and his wife/office manager are on a cruise in the Bahamas. Carole e-mailed me from the ship. Given that I haven’t had rodents, how is it that I’m on a first name basis with Billy and Carole? Well, we may not have rats, but we have a come-and-go plague of drain flies. Seems to be in abeyance this past year, but you never know when those creepy little suckers will be back.)

Here’s hoping that what I’m hearing is gently falling plaster…

If not, and it is (gulp-GULP) a rat, I predict a nervous breakdown (or condo sale) in the not so distant future.

But with all this rat worry, I’ve been especially sensitive to those who might be experiencing rat-related stress of their own.

And this includes the New Yorker who

… says she found a dead rodent sewn into a dress from a Zara clothing store. She is accusing the company of negligence and is seeking money for damages, according to court documents filed Friday. (Source: CNN)

Poor Cailey Fiesel.

I once bought a dress in Filene’s Basement, and when I went to put it on, realized that it had been worn and returned by someone with dreadful body odor. I washed the dress a couple of times, but it ended up in the donation bag. (Too bad. It was a purply madras shirtwaist that was cute and comfy.)

On August 16, Fiesel took one of the dresses out of her closet and wore it to work, according to court documents. While at work, Fiesel became aware of a "pungent odor," but wasn't able to figure out where it was coming from, according to court documents. She then noticed what felt like a string brushing against her leg. When she reached down to inspect, she found something else entirely.

"To her utter shock and disbelief, as she ran her hand over the hem of the dress, she felt an unusual bulge and suddenly realized that it was not a string that was rubbing against her leg, but was instead a leg rubbing against her leg," the court documents state. "The leg of a dead rodent, that is."

Well, I do feel for Cailey, but she can’t be the most observant person on the face of the earth. One thing not to notice BO on a dress unless you’ve stuck your nose in the armpit. But wouldn’t most people have noticed something as bulgy and heavy as a dead rat? Maybe if the bargain is good enough…

Nonetheless, I’m not going to be a rat and blame the victim here. A rat sewn into a dress. How colossally ghastly, especially given that:

She also says she developed a rash that was later diagnosed as a rodent-borne disease, according to court documents. Fiesel is seeking money "in a sum that will fairly and adequately compensate her" in return for these damages, according to court documents.

Whether she noticed it before she donned this nasty apparel, or when she got to work and realized she had a rat leg scratching her, I can understand why Cailey Fiesel is looking for something from Zara.

I know that Zara’s business model is fast and furious production and introduction of new styles, so that the thirst of their market – young fashionistas – for fast fashion can be quickly slaked . And they are, of course, producing their product in countries with less stringent quality controls than might be desired. Maybe someone was happy to let an embedded rat slip through their inspectional fingers. Revenge against American fat cats!

Meanwhile, I’m certainly sorry for Cailey Feisel’s troubles. May she have a good day in court.

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