I smell a rat

… a dead one, as it turns out. Perhaps this was a little heavenly payback for mocking a well-meaning gift giver.

Let me explain…
It all started in Adam’s bedroom. It smelled bad, but that’s not completely unexpected considering Adam is only one year old. All manner of smelly stuff “happens” in there, so the smell was kind of ignored for a couple of days. Well not exactly ignored… the nose can be a powerful and constant reminder, but let’s just say that a bad smell in Adam’s room fit perfectly with my world view. On day three the bouquet started to take on a hint of decay. That’s when I decided to look into modes of exterior entry for our attic – and found one near Adam’s room. A quick trip to the far corners of our attic produced a much more powerful olfactory response, but no source.

That’s when we called our exterminator.

We set an appointment for the next day, and arranged for Cheryl’s father to be present to let him in.

Fast forward to yesterday evening. I got a call from Cheryl’s mother, saying the exterminator came and couldn’t find the smell. “Did he go up in the attic?” I asked. “Yes, but he didn’t smell anything.” It was fate that put me on the road to my allergist at that moment, right at the intersection where I would normally turn off to go home. Faster than you can say, “stall him,” I was homeward bound.

Exterminator: “Well sir, I went up in your attic and I couldn’t smell anything, certainly nothing compared to the smell in your son’s room. That’s why I think it must have fallen into one of the walls. The smell is obviously lower, not higher, so it can’t be in your attic. If it’s in your walls then we won’t be able to help you.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be argumentative, but that doesn’t fit with my experience yesterday evening. The smell was much worse in the attic that in my son’s room. If I go up there this evening, after you’ve left, and it’s not how you’ve just described it I’m going to be REALLY upset.”

Exterminator: “Well I’ll go up there with you right now if you want.”

Me: “Sure, let’s go.”

Exterminator (surprised and disappointed, heads over to the attic access door and opens it up): “You see, if there was a dead animal in your attic you’d be overcome with the odor as soon as I opened the door. I don’t smell anything right now.”

Me (after we’ve crawled up into the attic and positioned ourselves over Adam’s room): “This is where I smelled it. Can you smell it?”

Exterminator: “Here it is right here.”

Me (close to producing more fuel for the olfactory fire): “Sorry, I’ve gotta go.”

Believe it or not, I try not to be smug; but when someone basically calls me a liar I’ve got to say something. I wonder if the guy even went up in the attic before I got there. My guess is he stuck his nose up through the door and called it a day. I almost felt bad for the guy when he found the dead animal, despite his earlier assertions. If I really thought he’d done his job before I goaded him into doing it, I would.

Here’s the one thing that gives me pause… as it turns out I was probably standing over the darn thing the night before… and I didn’t find it either. It’s a lot easier to feel superior when you’re not just as inept as the next guy. What’s even worse is that I have to relearn this lesson over and over again.

It turns out perspective and ego can be a perilous combination.

Give the gift of words.