Friday, August 1, 2008


Yesterday was a busy day. I was collecting larva samples and did five treatments. I also ran into my favorite reporter in a park, and he tagged along with me for a while. I showed him why that particular park is so hard to treat...the mosquitoes breed in the knot holes in trees, and in their exposed roots (the park is in a flood plain, where the Conewango and the Allegheny converge). This park is heavily wooded, and it would be impossible to find every single breeding spot. On the way out, he met a girl in a Princeton shirt, and her black lab, and a water toy. With a cheery goodby, he was off again. After the treatment, I cut through the woods and walked back in the park entrance. He was driving out and stopped again. "Gees. I didn't know you were going to get all robotic on me," referring to the sprayer on my back.
Anyhow, I went to one of my worst areas. I treated the ditches and the open sewers. One of the biggest property owners there is a slum lord. He buys ramshackle houses and charges people to live in these wrecks. He fixes nothing, and the places fall apart around their tenants ears. He doesn't care, and, for the most part, neither do his tenants. I met him a couple times. I tried to talk him into closing up a couple of open 'gray water' sewers. They were breeding like crazy. The guy is like 60, wearing short shorts, looking like some holdover from the disco days. I extended my hand to be shook, and he stroked it and patted it until I took my hand back, throwing up a little in the back of my throat (as Cara would phrase it.) The guys at DEP have had their run ins with him as well. They call him 'smarmy' and cautioned me. "If he ever asks you if you'd like to see pictures, tell him no as quick as you can." Apparently, the guy is a nudist, and goes on nudist vacations, and loves to show his pictures. GAK!
Anyways, I treated the open sewers, and was writing up the treatments in my truck, working on my second quart of water for the day. A boy came up on his bike and asked if I could treat at their house. "Sure," I said, and headed off, following this little guy on his bike. The house was one of Mr. Smarmy's junkers. Beer bottles and broken glass thrown in a pile in the back yard. The sewer had puddled there, and yes, the place was breeding. Boards with big nails had been thrown across the swampy area to make a little bridge. The man was a hippie sort, bandana on his head, gray headed, grizzled beard, and lit his next cigarette from the one he'd just finished puffing. One of the first things I noticed was a kiddie pool full of nasty water. Yup. Breeding. A tote full of weeds in the front yard, full of water...and larva. So I pointed these things out to him as I headed back to the truck to strap on my sprayer yet again. He calls after me, "So are you going to treat these?" I can. But I mention that the quickest way, and the cheapest way to solve that problem is to simply dump the water. "Oh." he says. "I'll do that later." *sigh* I tell him that I'll give him a hand, and help him dump the water. Walking back to the truck yet again, he says, "Hey, be sure to watch those boards out back. I wouldn't want you to run a nail in your foot. My boy's done that a couple times this summer. It's his own fault. He wears those damn flip flops..."
I think of the little boy on the swing yesterday, swinging higher and higher, while proclaiming, "This is the best day of my life..." I don't understand any parent who does less then his or her very best for their child. I don't get it at all. I treat their yard, and when I'm done, I put the sprayer in the back of my truck and I walk back out to flip the boards with the nails upside down.
The dad walks out one more time. "Hey!" he calls. "Do you have anything for fleas in the house?"


Hal Johnson said...

Quite a flip side to your "Best Days" post.

Pencil Writer said...

Ohhhhhhhh. Cringe, cringe. You sometimes wonder if people like that are only in the movies or on TV and then you actually MEET them and realize all to clearly that they are SO real. I think I'd want to puke with both those less than desirables. They smarmy guy (ick) and the dead-beat dad--you just want to smack them and see if you could possibly wake them up.

Like hal johnson said: Quite a flip side to your "Best Days" post.

Choices. We all have them. Some of us just don't get it. Some people seem to be short on thinking past the moment they're in. How do children survive in households like the one with nails protruding through boards that could have, as you did, been turned over so easily? Amazing.

Eternal Sunshine said...

Kinda make you want to call CPS, doesn't it?

What an absolute jerk.

Mikey said...

Eeeekk! I'm w/Hal, that's the flip side. Wow. I agree, why don't people try to do the best for their kids? Hope they got the kids their shots!
Yikes. *shaking head*

BB said...

Sorry, but I think there are just some people in this world who shouldn't be allowed to have kids... the kind who are not equipped to put their offspring first. My heart breaks for this little possum... one of Dash;s classmates has a less-than-desired for home situation. I ache for him too.

You just gotta hope they are inspired by something outside that can lift them up, and take them to a "best day" every so often.


Debby said...

BB - no need to apologize. It's the truth. And it is a reminder to every adult that looks at a situation like that and cringes, that we all have the chance to make a difference. We cannot just arbitrarily take the children home with us (always MY first inclination with 4 empty bedrooms)but we can behave kindly, and show these kids another way. Not much, but it's all we've got. It bothers me that for every child who is loved, it seems as if there is another who is neglected or ignored...or worse. Sometimes I cannot bear to watch the news.

PaintedPromise said...

Oh. My. God.

i don't even want any more kids but i'd take the poor little guy...

{sniff sniff}

Lavinia said...

This is very disturbing. Where is child welfare? Where is the child's mother? This man does not sound capable of caring properly for this child in the slightest. I am very troubled by this post.

Debby said...

Lavinia - mother was in the house with a year old baby. Never saw her.