That spring, a torrential 3-week rain pattern in April-May had produced an early bumper crop of mosquitoes-- very ravenous, vicious ones who will bite through your clothing and to whom Deepwoods Off is like Chanel No. 5. As ever, a simple mosquito bite, on me, was a giant red lump that swelled and itched for days, and I was being devoured! Our little Mosquito Magnet had bravely attracted and trapped as many as possible, but the yard is too large... so we decided the time was right to just bite the bullet and buy the large, one-acre, super Liberty Mosquito Magnet with the Lurex attractant and pint-capacity net bag. Nuke 'em!
Our intent to do this first thing in the a.m. was derailed by various distractions, including some work for a client (so thoughtless! Have they never heard of TGIF?) and it was after lunch that we finally headed out on our shopping expedition. So: we purchased this fairly expensive item (using my 12 months to pay coupon) and loaded it into the car (which was about a jillion degrees; it has turned hot and humid) and drove home. I parked the car in the drive but ran down to the corner to talk with a neighbor about our city petition, so Don unloaded the car. He decided it was too hot to work on the patio, so opened the Mosquito Magnet (hereinafter referred to as MM) in the mudroom. I returned just in time to hear, "Uh oh." Broken item? Mangled instructions? No....not that good. Droppings...tattered paper...plant matter. And here we had thought the damage on the box was just some ripped or rubbed corner of the cardboard that might have occurred in handling. Don continued pulling parts out of the box...until he reached the bottom, or, in other terms, the "OH, MY GOD" level.
There, clearly dismayed to have the roof come off, was a rat--Rattus Norwegicus, if I am not mistaken--and her nest... and her babies. One minute she is living in air-conditioned comfort in a secure facility; the next she is rudely jounced about in a hot vehicle, and then some home-wrecker has destroyed everything she has worked for!
Frantically, she ran twice in a circle at the bottom of the box--while Don ran in frantic circles outside the box. Then he headed for the garage and the BB pistol, while I folded the lid over the open box--because RatLady, apparently understanding the English for "BB pistol," began leaping up (in a most energetic and even puissant fashion) in an attempt to escape. I pulled the box out the back door onto the patio, shaking it to disorient the rat, and Don arrived quickly with the pistola...
Don started some clean-up in the mudroom while I dialed Home Depot and asked for the manager, who was clearly appalled to hear my story. She promised that Customer Service would drive out to our house at once with a replacement. Abject apologies... referral to the service desk to give directions, where the clerk tried to tell me it would be a while, he had no idea of when they'd be able to make it out there...while I pointed out, very sweetly for me, that we had something of the moral high ground and deserved really quick turn-around on this one. In fact, a young man arrived within 15 minutes (while I was in the yard hooking up my asparagus-bed watering hose) and Don let him in the front door with the replacement MM. Then they found a spare box and were loading the parts of MM-1 on the patio when I arrived on the scene. The young man was very nice, graciously offering a 10% discount, so I ran up and made a copy of our receipt. Then I offered to carry one of the boxes (the light, rat-house one) to his car. "Did you want us to carry that away?" he asked. Quickly assessing the decorative value of a dead rat, I decided, that, yes, in fact I did want him to take it with him. Sorry that he had used his private vehicle and not an official Home Depot truck, but cheered by the fact that he recognized the nubile girls across the street, he loaded Ratlady and MM-1 and went on his way.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Don was unpacking MM-2...somewhat surprised to find some tattered paper scraps in that box (which was clean and unmarred)...until he reached the bottom and found...
...another rat. At least this one was dead, perhaps flattened during stocking when the contents shifted. It was a small, young rat--probably just newly out on his own and setting up his first apartment--and he was neatly pressed. Clearly he had not even had opportunity to produce droppings in the short time before his poor housing choice proved fatal.
Well, I called Home Depot back, asked for the manager, and described how appreciative we were for the quick response, the 10% discount, the polite young man; there was just One Little Thing.... My revelation was greeted with silence. Perhaps she was hoping it was a prank. I offered that, while I did not presume to tell her how to do her business, I thought they might want to open all of their boxes; each one had available access via hand-hold openings (that apparently read, "Rat Entry" in Rat-Norwegian, I forebore to point out.)
I must say, there is nothing like having a major home supply chain in an embarrassing position. I told her that MM-2 did not need to be replaced, but that we thought she needed to know about R-2. She told me that my credit card would be refunded the full purchase price. Thank you! Then I quickly nipped upstairs to fill out my Home Depot Opinion survey about my shopping experience!