Monday, July 23, 2007

I Was a Nazi War Criminal

Have you ever ended up feeling guilty about engaging in pest control? I always have pangs of guilt about it. Whether it's mice invading my kitchen, wasps under the eaves or ant infestations, I end feeling like the aggressor when I take action against them. Lately, I've been having trouble with ants. Having repelled them from the kitchen, they then reappeared in the bathroom. So I put down some Nippon (surely that name must be actionable under the Race Relations Act), and awaited results. Sure enough, when I went into the bathroom a while later, there they were, crowding around the Nippon, gulping it down. "Hah", I thought, "eat well you little bastards, because you'll all be dead by dawn!" As soon as I'd thought that, I started feeling like a Nazi war criminal. Here I was, rejoicing at the imminent destruction of a thriving colony of living creatures. What right did I have to commit genocide? (Apart from the fact that they were digging wholes in my house and stealing my sugar). I ended up feeling so bad about it all that it came as a relief when, the next day, I saw that there was still some ant activity going on in the bathroom. I thanked God that they weren't all dead after all.

This whole sorry business reminded of the experiences of a friend of a friend many years ago. This individual found himself faced with a nest of angry wasps in his house. Having a small child, he understandably became extremely worried and, deciding that he couldn't wait for the pest control people, took drastic action himself. Basically, he chased the swarm of wasps around his house with a vacuum cleaner, sucking them all up. When he thought he had caught most of them, he discharged the contents of two cans of anti-insect spray into the vacuum's hose, one after the other. He was relieved as the angry buzzing from inside the vacuum cleaner subsided as the six-legged devils were gassed. However, his relief turned to terrible guilt as the realisation of the enormity of the horror he had unleashed dawned on him. "I felt like Hitler," he apparently told my friend. With all evidence of ant activity having ceased in my house, I know exactly how he felt.



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