05/26/04: Squir-rels keep fallin' on my head...

So around 4:15 yesterday I'm sitting at my work-from-home desk as I do each workday, and as in recent fashion I was enjoying the playful patter of squirrel feet o'er my head. Occasionally I'd look up and see little squirrel feet trying to pry open my overhead ceiling vent, confident that they can't since it's, ya know, a metal vent. Today, the squirrels were particularly active and also chattering, which is a new thing. I found it cute. They were running back and forth between the two vents in my ceiling and even around the rest of the attic... again, something I'd never heard before, but I didn't give it much thought.

Until I hear...

run run run run run run, rustle rustle, chirpitty chirp, scraaaaaape whup-BAM!! which was followed by painful squirrel cries and the frantic, futile scratching of squirrel nails as he tried to free himself of the metal heating duct into which he had plummeted, eight feet straight down into the bowels of my walls. This little guy was trapped, and all parties (the squirrel, the squirrel's pals and mah-self) were rather upset about it.

I sprung into action and had Bill the Squirrel Guy summoned, but alas, he was not around. So instead they sent over MattMikeMark (forget his name) the Carpenter Guy who happened to be doing some work a few units down. (Hhuhuh, I said "unit.") MikeMattMark comes in and surveys the situation and we're both trying to stifle nervous giggles at the ridiculousness of this whole thing without seeming inhumane. I show MarkMikeMick the part of my home-office wall behind which the squirrel is trapped, and he slices a neat hole in my drywall and reveals a metal duct. We hear the squirrel in there, and judging from the size of the duct and the sounds the squirrel is making, we know he's in there pretty snug-like. We can't cut the duct open because we'd potentially be cutting the squirrel open too (ick-- yep, pretty much wanted to avoid that). The duct has a 90-degree angle in it where it goes through the floor right there, and if the squirrel gets fidgety he will pass the angled joint and fall another 5 feet straight down into the guts of the heating unit below. This sounds grim, but it's actually a good thing... because then we could just take the faceplate off of the heating unit and let the little guy run out the front door.

We banged on the duct a bit to try to get him to budge, but he doesn't wanna go. So MattMerleMilo leaves for an hour to finish up his other apartment work and figures the squirrel will make a move by then.

Which it does.

MaxMervMelchior returns and realizes my heater isn't the kind with the convenient bolted-on front panel, and instead he needs to slice it open like a can opener. He does, he bends the sheet metal back and reaches into the heater and pulls out Mr. Squirrel, and they both scampered off onto my front lawn. We heaved a collective sigh of relief, MiltMarvMuffy patched up the holes in the ductwork and in the heating unit, and then schedules a time to patch up the drywall, and we're good to go.

Might I add that this was the first time in my 33 years of life that I have witnessed duct tape being used on an actual duct.

MilesMaoMoeshe starts patching things back up when he hears something else; what he thinks is another squirrel inside my wall. I don't hear anything, even using my acute spidey-sense. All attempts at finding this new squirrel fail, so we dismiss it and the duct/unit patching job is finished up. I am told that if I hear anything else, even if it's at 2am, to call the maintenance team so they can get the squirrel out right away. MannyMarcellusManilow leaves, I finish out my workday, John brings over some tasty chicken shawarma, we plan more road trip, and all is super-happy-slappy. John heads home after dinner and I adjourn to my reading nook where there happens to be a floor vent... and I suddenly hear and feel squirming 'neath my feet. I listen carefully, and I hear faint whimpers. I listen some more, and I hear the air conditioner unit rather unhappy... and I realize that this is caused by squirrel #2, trapped beneath my floor near my air conditioning unit. Argh!! Images of chilled minced squirrel (with a fine shiraz) are going through my brain, so I kill the A/C and heed my earlier command and call maintenance. It's about 7:30pm.

The maintenance guy tells me that he'll be out first thing in the morning. I worry that between now and first thing in the morning there will be squirrel poop in my ducts. I try not to think about it, because the .000000000000002% of germ freak I have in me will only obsess over this point and I will be forced to move to the Class 10 cleanroom at Nat Semi or something.

I get back to sorting clothes and it starts to thunder outside, which (strangely) sets off the remaining squirrels in the ceiling. They are chirping at the dude in the floor, and the dude in the floor is panicking and scratching fiercely and his cries are getting louder and louder. He isn't letting up. I have no A/C, the storm is getting more intense, the squirrels are freaking out and shrieking, and suddenly I short circuit and head up to John's to wait out the storm.

The storm passes and I run home and then determine that it's too hot to sleep in my apartment... plus the fact that my bed is covered with freshly sorted clothes that I didn't get a chance to finish dealing with due to the squirrel activity of the day. So I called Jeremy who is currently out of town and asked him if I could sleep at his place. He says no problemo, and I migrate over.

Sleeping was fitful at best. I kept having dreams about (what else) squirrels, bugs and my friend Corprew sending me thousands of links to articles via LJ about the innerworkings of intestines and various maladies thereof. (I have no idea what this means. Corp? Wanna take a stab? Is it scary that I dream about you as formatted text and not in flesh and blood?)

I got home around 11:30am after a happy morning of bagels, Dunkin' Donuts coffee and pre-packing with John. No sign that maintenance has been in my place. Five minutes later there's a knock at the door, and it's MaintenanceGuy#3 (didn't get his name either). I explain the squirrel saga, and he pops open the door to my heater/AC unit and says about 530 times how he "can't believe that [MagnusMookieMohammed] didn't cut his arm all up because that's worse than gettin' cut up with a knife" on the sheet metal that was pried open against its will. He gets started doing his thing and about 2 hours pass. During the action I'm working upstairs when suddenly I hear a shriek and then glasses and dishware crashing to the floor. I go flying down the stairs because I've assumed he's cut himself on the sheet metal that's worse than gettin' cut up with a knife, and he's standing in the doorway panting. I ask if he's OK, and he said that the squirrel jumped out of the heating unit, ran across his neck, jumped on top of the couch in an attempt to jump through the picture window, failed, ran across the floor into the kitchen, jumped up on the sink and tried to get out the window over the sink, peed all over my kitchen counter, knocked down my vases and plants on the windowsill, and then ran out the front door... all in about 3.4 seconds. The guy was scared out of his wits and laughing about it... especially considering he's a giant, 285-pound black guy who shouldn't be afraid of very much, I'd imagine. :-)

Anyway, humans have reigned victorious, so we began the cleanup process of putting couches, pianos and guitars back in place, cleaning up squirrel pee and just enjoying the newfound sense of calm. MaintenanceGuy#3 again uses duct tape to seal the duct and asks to schedule a time for them to replace my heating unit because it's been cut open so many times. I suggest that we get the squirrels out of the ceiling first, because they're just gonna have to cut the new one open when the next assclown goes down the happy slide. I'm hoping this logic sank in... he did nod, but it had that "yes, dear" feel to it. :-)   Exit MaintenanceGuy#3, stage left.

I hit John on the IM to give him the squirrel update, and he assures me that urine is sterile and not to panic about it. I say it's squirrel piss and I don't want it where I cook. Either way, I am satisfied with my biohazard spill remediation efforts.

So now it's 4:37pm and I'm enjoying some homemade salsa and a handful of pine nuts... but I am sure I hear more fidgeting inside the wall again.

Until the next update... :-)

Fortune Teller Miracle Fish today tells me that I am: In Love   Zoinks, Scoob!