See this mouse? Cute, isn’t he? Looking all innocent – with his little whiskers and tiny eyes. And do you know why he’s cute? Because he’s not real.
A real mouse isn’t something to gush over. Especially when it’s in your house.
The unexpected visitor
If you’ve been here a while, you’ll know that I have a bit of a phobia about “visitors” to my house. Until now, those visitors have been confined to (mostly) cockroaches, and the occasional gecko (I’ll call them lizards…”gecko” makes them sound less scary 😉 )
Well, all that changed a few weeks ago, when my eagle-eyed daughter spotted something running through the lounge. She’s already got anxiety issues, so as you can imagine, this didn’t help. Especially as it was the first day back at school after a 2 week break.
“Rat!” she cried. But it scurried away before anyone else saw it.
I wasn’t home at the time, but my wife was, along with her mother, who was brave enough to open the cupboard it had supposedly taken refuge in. And out it jumped – though still too quick for anyone to see what it was.
A big lizard, perhaps? It was anyone’s guess.
Anyway, so someone who works in the complex was nearby, and he went in to try to catch it. Sofas were moved, the lounge re-arranged…everything. But still, this thing wouldn’t come out. (Obviously.. It valued its life).
And so he guessed it had gone out already. Or if not, it would leave by itself.
So they left the doors open in the hope that this unwelcome visitor would leave.
When I came home, I found the gap he supposedly ran into and applied an elaborate covering of newspaper and sellotape (otherwise known as “Scotch tape” in Trump-land). I wasn’t sure if he was in there, but if he was, he wasn’t going to get out alive. Or so I hoped.
And we never saw it again.
Until a few days later…
Later that week, we were out for an evening. When the house is quiet, things have the courage to come out. And so, I walked in to find our visitor scurrying around – in front of my eyes.
He was quick, for sure. First back behind the wall, then on the skirting, then across the lounge to take refuge behind a couch.
My fears were manifested.
I have no shame in admitting that I’m not a “manly man”. I’m a downright coward when it comes to creatures about which I have a phobia. So this discovery was by far the biggest ever challenge to my fragile sense of security.
The question was: how are we going to get this thing out? (I say “we”, because my beloved wife would have to be my partner on this, as she usually is when we get unwelcome guests at home.)
We have night-time security in our complex, so I immediately called the company to see if the guard would come and help. Sure, it’s not part of his job description…but in reality, this creature had invaded my house. It was a threat to my psychological well-being – my emotional security.
So yes, I felt it was sort of security-related.
Anyway, the company didn’t answer my call.
I asked my wife to keep an eye on the lounge, while I trudged off to find the security guard. As I approached his station, I found the lights off.
Crap. This cannot be happening. Security is sometimes unreliable…but why does he have to be slacking tonight of all nights?
I called the company again, and they said they’d radio him. But I also went and knocked on the window of his station, and lo and behold, he emerged. (I have no idea why he was sitting in the dark. Maybe trying to fool potential robbers into thinking that security was off duty that night, before he would pounce and catch them in the act of breaking in.)
Anyway, so I explained the situation to him (rather vaguely…it’s embarrassing, you know) and asked him to come help. And he obliged, bringing a stick of some kind.
So I get back, let him through the back door, and ask him to check – while I stand outside…not wanting the creature to run over my feet (if it did emerge).
He repeats the process the other guy followed on the day of the home invasion – moving furniture, hitting couches with his stick, and looking for the offender.
My wife politely tried to release him from this insane quest, but I stubbornly asked him to continue for a short while, before caving in.
This would not be a good night.
He left, suggesting we get mouse traps to try to catch it. Wonderful. Because I’m just the kind of guy to remove a dead mouse from the middle of my lounge.
I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to deal with this on my own, or get the fumigator. I messaged him (even though it was 9.30PM on a Friday night), asking if he could come the next day.
My wife, in all her care and compassion, downplayed the issue, while criticising my lack of courage. We’d lived in the house all week with this thing. It wasn’t a big deal (to her).
The kids, meanwhile, found it amusing. They named the mouse “Hidey”…because he liked to hide.
Great. So now it’s an elusive pet.
I grudgingly continued with my activities for the night, while everyone else did too. They weren’t as bothered by this tragedy as I was.
Many thoughts swirled in my head, including wishes that I had thermal goggles that could pick up warmth and movement of such creatures hiding in my house. I later searched the app store for something, on the off chance that technology had made it accessible to smart phones. Alas…no luck.
My other wish was that I would have the power to freeze time for everything except myself. (That idea came from a paranormal TV show years ago.) So if I spotted Hidey, I could simply freeze him in his tracks, get the broom, and push him out the door.
But I don’t live in a TV show, so that wouldn’t happen anytime soon.
Anyway, so just as I was about to retire for the night, I carried out my usual routine of standing at the top of the stairs and looking down for creepy crawly home invaders. I’d developed this habit after spotting one crawling up the wall some years ago. So my OCD tendencies took the opportunity to turn this into a nightly routine, which has – thus far – never resulted in the discovery of any dangers.
Your move, Hidey
Right by the front door, I spotted this dark little creature, presumably trying to find a way out. My heart jumped into my throat – as it usually does when I come across such discoveries. (I have a sixth sense about them. Don’t ask my why…I just sense when they’re around.)
Panic. What do I do? Do I leave it and deal with it in the morning? But who’s to say it’ll surface in the morning? And can I really sleep comfortably at night knowing this thing is roaming around downstairs?
What if he gets the courage to come up the stairs? Can he even make it up the stairs?
So many questions. But I couldn’t ponder all night. I needed to act. Fast.
I thought one solution would be to go out the back door, then open the front door from the outside, so he could get out. I would have to go right past him, though, which wasn’t appealing. Of course, he would hide behind the shelf right at the front door – making it less uncomfortable.
I woke up my wife, who was sleeping next to our 3 year old, informing her of the breaking news. Fortunately, she wasn’t upset and saw this as the opportunity it was to save the night. She had the same idea as me for giving Hidey his escape route, so off we set.
I gave her the broom (which I was keeping upstairs in case a confrontation arose that night), plus my trusty can of Doom (which probably wouldn’t have done much to Hidey…but it made me feel a little safer), and crept down the stairs, reciting prayers quietly as I approached the bottom, then dashed past the front door and went out the back.
Once on the outside, I went to open the front door. Hoping for a quick victory, I was deflated when it failed to open. I forgot to open the latch from the inside.
So I went back around the house, in through the back, and repeated my terrifying dash to the vicinity of Hidey’s hideout – to open the latch. Then finally out of the back door.
Next came the waiting game. I hoped he was still hiding behind that shelf – centimetres away from the front door…waiting to run out. But I couldn’t be sure.
My wife stood on the staircase, out of his line of sight (if he came out again), while I waited in the lounge, watching – like a hawk – the spot he would emerge from (if he were to emerge).
Eventually, I saw some movement. I silently gestured to my wife to be very quiet and not move. Slowly, he popped out – exploring the chances of safety. Then he retreated to his hideout.
I was elated at the prospect of getting him out on this night.
So we waited. Again, he popped out, then in again. At this point, I was scared my wife would lose patience with this ridiculous game (it was past 11PM by then) and go to bed. But, to her credit, she stayed. Maybe she was just as scared as me. Or maybe she knew how important this was to me. Whatever the case, my partner stayed on, and I was super grateful.
And she figured out that Hidey was probably seeing me, getting scared, and going back. So she told me to go back further – out of his sight.
Now, if you’ve been a long-time reader, you’ll know that prayer is important to me. Religion plays a pivotal role in my life, and I aspire to making my relationship with my Creator the most important thing (though that priority fluctuates).
So here I stood, knowing that this game could go either way. Only God had full control – the ability, if He willed, to make this mouse be brave, face a second out in the open, then run out of the house. And so I made dua (supplication)…deep, sincere dua for Hidey to leave.
It may seem a trivial and ridiculous thing for many people, but for me, it’s the essence of understanding who I am, and who God is: I have no power at all, and He has full control over everything. Each and every single little thing. Even this tiny creature’s willingness, and ability, to move 30 centimetres and give me massive relief from my stress and anxiety.
So I made my duas, and waited. And waited. And waited.
And, eventually, my dua was answered. Hidey made his move, and ran out.
Alhamdullilah…all praise and thanks are due to the Almighty.
The take-home message
The lesson from all of this? Don’t ever underestimate the power of reaching out to the Almighty. Especially in moments of desperate need.
That, and being understanding of other people. You’d have every reason to laugh at me after this story, and I wouldn’t blame you.
But my point is that you should pause and think before doing so. Each of us has different fears. Different struggles. Different episodes in life. What’s trivial for you may be incredibly difficult for another person. And we live in a world where it’s cool to make fun of others. We’re fed this culture of mocking others through sitcoms and other modern forms of entertainment.
But when you are faced with a difficult situation, you wouldn’t want people ridiculing you and making light of your issue.
So, don’t be a sheep. Rise above that mentality. Treat people like you want to be treated, and try to be kind, patient, and helpful to others.
It’s something I need to remind myself of frequently, and I hope you’ll take that reminder too.