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Well, actually, if I go back a day, I could say it started with seeing the small R-A-T on the subway platform yesterday. It creeped me out. I hate mice, tiny rats, in-between rats  and big rats. All rats I hate. This one seemed hell-bent on terrifying me by coming on a direct path from where it arrived on the platform to my feet. I kept moving further and further back but it just kept chugging along towards me. When the train finally came rumbling in, I thought the noise  would scare it away, but, oh no, this was a subway rat used to that screeching sound.  The creature just waited patiently for the doors of the subway to open. Then, it must have realized it was on the wrong platform because he didn’t get in. Thank God!

Then, today, early Sunday morning, I’m groggily getting changed to go in the pool when this Cadillac of a cockroach — it was just that big — came creeping out of some crack and headed directly towards my stuff. I never thought I’d say, “Eek!” in my life, but something like that definitely came out of my mouth. I think it’s the first cockroach I’ve seen in Toronto since I moved here 23 years ago. It brought back memories of DC days and the cockroaches dropping from the ceiling in my apartment. I got worried when I lost sight of the one this morning. Did it creep its ugly brown body into my backpack to make the journey back here and infest my space? I remember my mother practically disowning me because there were DC cockroaches in the boxes I had shipped to her for storage which infested her bug-free Ohio home. Actually, I think that could have been cause for total disownment.

Anyway, my behaviour in both cases was definitely not in keeping with the spirit of “We’re All God’s Creatures.” I told Rose about both incidents and she was appalled by my behaviour towards these small animals and insects who were, really, not doing anything to harm me, after all. I reminded her that if they were here she would trap them, catch them then eat them. As she turned her back on  me to go back to sleep, she mumbled something about “respecting” them all the while she was doing what came naturally.

So, maybe, it was just payback when that clerk at the Hudsons Bay Company today looked at me in the same way I looked at that rat and cockroach. She had a pained, disdainful, “Oh, please, not another grey-haired customer to deal with” look on her face as I approached her desk in the — and I didn’t make this up — “Free People” department of the store. Hah, free people if you’re not grey haired and limping because you’ve been on your bloody feet too long today. She didn’t even bother to get off the phone which I knew was a personal call since she was talking in some guttural tongue and making gestures that were more about being pissed with a boyfriend then selling something to a customer. I waited, patiently, smiling sweetly and looking at my watch at the same time. She finally got off the phone and, immediately, turned her back on me and helped someone else who was, I have to admit, cuter, younger and about to make an expensive purchase in this department.

All I wanted to do was exchange the sweater I had bought on line for a smaller size. That’s it, nothing more. When she finally turned to me, she grumbled something, grabbed the sweater from my hand and headed into the depths of Free People Land. I followed, not wanting to lose sight of her or my sweater. I called out to her as she went from rack to rack but she ignored me. Then, I lost her. She disappeared down some secret hole in Free People Land. She was nowhere to be seen. I made my way back to where this episode had all begun and discovered that she had dumped my sweater and the plastic bag it was in on the service desk and in the hands of another clerk while she went off in search of more attractive customers. This meant, I had to start all over again with my explanation of why I was there. This clerk didn’t quite understand and kept trying to sell me the same sweater I was trying to return but at a higher price. There was nothing to do but declare defeat, get a credit for the sweater and depart from Free People Land hopefully never to return again.

This doesn’t mean I will ever be kind to a rat or a cockroach even if it means I never get served at The Hudsons Bay Company again.

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