Vermin (Part II)

He’s back. With bells on.

For the past few months, we’ve been storing our daughter’s car behind the garage. Every couple of weeks I start it and let the engine run for half an hour. Last night, at a party, a friend tells me I shouldn’t just run the engine, I should actually drive the car around, and do it at least once a week. When I ask why, she says “pack rats.” Uh oh.

Sure enough, when I open the hood this morning, the entire engine compartment’s stuffed with seed pods, cactus, twigs, ripped up insulation, rat turds — and there’s the creature itself, sitting on top of its nest, fat and insolent, refusing to move until I poke it with a stick. The only visible parts of the engine are the belts and pulleys. Running the engine every two weeks, far from discouraging the rat, has instead taught it to stay away from moving parts.

My daughter and I spend the next two hours picking crap out of the engine (tools used: bare hands, channel lock pliers, needle nose pliers, one of those long picker-upper things old people use, and a shop vac), then inspecting for chewed wiring and hoses. So far, we haven’t found any permanent damage. The trunk and passenger compartment seem to be okay, though for all I know there could be another nest up under the dashboard — I’m almost afraid to look.

So to my list of weekly chores I add another: driving Polly’s car around the block and parking it in a different place each time. Daughter, it’s time for you to come get your car and drive it back to Phoenix!

© 2005 – 2007, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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