I keep a file on my computer called "Blog Ideas" and for a long time I have had this item on the list: "Things that Probably Don't Happen to Teachers in the US." There are quite a few examples listed under the category, and one of them came to mind yesterday when a friend who is in Haiti posted on Facebook that a mouse had come out of her cupboard and that she was wondering how best to deal with this unwelcome intruder. A teacher from our school recommended glue traps and then a discussion ensued about what one was supposed to do with the mice once they were caught, pinioned on the glue trap looking up at you with those little mousy eyes. The person who had suggested the glue traps mentioned a Haitian staff member by name as the go-to person for dealing with this situation, adding, "But don't look at what he does!"
One day I was supervising my seventh graders as they read with preschoolers, their Book Buddies. (I wrote about the program here.) Several of the pairs (seventh grader and preschooler) were sitting outside on the lawn in front of the Pre-K classroom. There was some giggling and pointing and when I went over to investigate it turned out that a mouse, attached to a glue trap, was in the grass. I asked the Pre-K teacher about it and she said that it had been in her room when she came in with the kids, and that she had put the trap outside to deal with later. "Call B.," she said.
B. has worked at our school for a long time and is an extremely valuable and industrious employee. He and I go back a long way because he used to clean my classroom the year I taught second grade and we got to know each other well when he would come in to clean up whatever atrocity my kids had committed. I know about his difficult life and some of the many things he has suffered: losing his wife, an unstable house due to rain and erosion, a house fire. (And, oh yeah, most recently, a house collapse after an earthquake, but that one was still in the future.) B. could handle this mouse, I was confident.
Sure enough, when I found him he greeted me cheerfully and came over immediately to take care of the problem. I asked him if he could take the mouse away, since it was distracting the kids. He walked right over to it and, in full view of many small children, stepped on its head. That took care of the problem, all right. Then he picked up the dead mouse, still attached to the trap, and carried it away.
Here, in another mouse post, I observed that there are few chapters of PETA in the third world. Human beings have too many problems to spare tears for the problems of animals, particularly ones perceived as pests. It didn't occur to B. that his action might upset some delicate sensibilities, and beyond a few choruses of "Ew!", it really didn't. I was speechless, and thus unable to comment.
And yes, B. was the staff member recommended to the person wondering about how to deal with mice.
Here's another mouse post.
2 minutes ago