For some people, the day after Labor day is a big deal. It means that it's time to toss their kid into a new set of Nike's and plop them onto a big orange bus.
For other people, this is a moment in their life where they will reflect on weekends at the cabin, camp fires, and if they were lucky........maybe even romance.
For the Hospitality Worker however, this is a time to go to war.
In many respects rodents can be more cunning than man. They live in a hierarchy, they follow specific instructions without insubordination, and unlike their foe "Humankind", they posses the ability to think and act ahead of their counterparts.
Republican's & Democrats have recently been sharing dialogue on fighting terrorism, but your neighborhood food production facility has been teaming up with pest control and food safety inspectors for years.
Klecko has always been fascinated by this topic and has read about rodents in his leisure time for years, but much of this following post will be from memory, so if you are one of those fact/freaks, or writing a "Rat Thesis" to graduate Purdue.....
You might want to check some of these numbers, but all kidding aside....I'll bet most of them are spot on.
At this very moment that I write this, rodents all across my city are now making their ways into our structures.
Experts estimate that it is safe to say that each city has a rat for every human.
Some cities like London and New York, cities that have old buildings, poverty and a moderate climate can average 1.3 rats per each city inhabitant.
Rats and mice don't wait until it begins freezing before seeking shelter, they are not reactionary, those little critters are resilient and preemptive as heck.
So while all the peeps in the Twin Cities enjoy "Indian Summer" with their windows pushed up, and the doors wide open, maybe they should realize a few facts about these fuzzy little creatures.
Mice typically only live about a year, but most of them breed at they ripe young age of 35 days......that's even worse than us Pollacks!
On day 60 the mom will give birth to 8 pups.
So if you crunch the numbers, if you let just one pair of mice into your house, and they "do it", and then the pups continue pro creating at the average pace......
You are gonna have at least 500 mice scurrying across your floors and in your cupboards within a year.
Mice are every bit as cunning as the cockroach.
Did you know that they can swim like Michael Phelps?
They can jump up one foot in the air, and they can drop...or fall 6 feet and land w/o getting hurt.
In less than a 1/2 minute, those little guys can scale an 8 foot brick wall.
Going up against a rodent is like fighting a Ninja, nobody's saying you can't beat them, but if you are going to, your really need to bring your "A" game or they will make you look foolish.
Over the years I have worked in and serviced hundreds of buildings, and I could tell you stories where I watched mice living under the fryer, and that is even grosser when you realize that rodents seldom travel further than 60 feet away from their "Hotel".
I've dropped off orders to places where I've found piles of droppings the size of a shoe box......it gags me thinking about it.
Contamination is so possible. The White Footed mouse lives in all 48 states and is the primary carrier of Lyme's Disease.
Rats are nasty too. If you had just one pair of rats in your work place for one year, it is estimated that they would shed 1 millions hairs while leaving around 250 000 stinky pellets for you to deal with.
Rats didn't originate in Europe as many people believe, they actually came out of Asia Minor.
There are basically 2 rat camps, the old school rat is the "Roof Rat" or the "Black Rat". They flourished in Europe when they experimented with multilevel houses. The Black Rat likes to be up high.
It was used to living in trees, so now it gnawed through the primitive roof shingles of the day, and they would nest up in the ceiling...EWWWWWW.
Have you ever heard rats running across a drop ceiling? Klecko has, and Saints of Warsaw, he wishes he could forget that sound.
But then a couple hundred years after the Black Rat set up their Euro camp, the "Brown Rat" or "Norway Rat" hit the scene.
They were bigger than the Black Rat, and eventually stole their scene from them.
The battle wasn't bloody, like most conflicts, the victory was decided with technology.
You see, the Euro's caught on to the Black Rats - sprite trickery, and they started making their roof shingles our of a more durable substance, and then they stopped building wooden structures, buildings that rats would gnaw through with ease.
Now your average Euro was living in a brick house.
Brown Rats had the advantage because they were / are master burrowers. These rats would basically come up through the floor boards.
Brown Rats now controlled the resources and their prosperity and dominion grew exponentially.
The Black Rats pretty much were cast out into the wilderness where they would have to bust their tails twice as hard to gain food.
One of the advantages of this swap was that every breed of rat and mouse has its own make up and constitution.
The Black Rat was the species that spread the "Plague", and although the Brown Rat would certainly offer its own set of challenges, at least we wouldn't lose 3/4's of our worlds population because of them.
Both of these breeds made their way to the United States on shipping Vessels. some of the Norwegian bakers that I've worked with over the years were pissed off that their country got assigned to the Norwegian Brown Rat....sure, it was their ships that brought many of them over, but they felt that the Chinese should have been noble and taken ownership of this species.
Rodent population grew faster than it needed to in the colonial days. One of the main contributing factors was that people of that era were really into what was called "Rat Baiting".
Rat Baiting was savage and brutal, much like dog or cock fighting.
People would count off 100 rats, place them into a contained area and then throw a Terrier into the space. People would place bets as to how long it would take to exterminate every last one of them.
It took 75 or 100 years before they made this illegal, but in that time period, entrepreneurial people would breed rats for these...what were deemed "festive occasions".
The numbers were staggering.
From what I've heard though, most of today's American Black Rats live down in the Southeast in the swamps and bayou, but other than that....the Brown Rat rules Uncle Sam's playground.
When you run a food production facility, you have to have the "Rat Man" a.k.a. Pest Control out to your facility every 2 weeks.
They will then do extensive inspections and then place notes in a log book that needs to be kept on site.
I remember years ago, I was outside on break smoking a cigarette when the Rat Man pulled up in his pick up.
This building was in a crappy part of town and it wasn't all that uncommon to see rats at night.
I pointed out to the guy how I thought some of the rats must of found a booze source, cuz I swear to Caesar that they were drunk.
The rats would run straight, but then in unison lean to their right, and after several feet lean back to their left and then continue following their course.
Rat Man pointed out that nothing on God's earth was more creature to habit & routine than the rat. He explained that they have eyes, but seldom use them.
Everything is muscle memory with them, and the area where we witnessed them swerving was where a garbage dumpster used to be.
When the dumpster was removed, it didn't change the rat packs course, this had already been set in stone.
So after explaining this to me, I remember that Rat Man asked to bum a smoke, and when I gave him one, he told me the following........
"Remember that Movie Rocky? remember how they hung those slabs of beef on those meat hooks? I was working a plant like that in Chicago a few years back, and you wanna know what those little Mother "F"ers did?"
I nodded yes.
"Those sons of bit**** jumped up on one another's backs, kinda like when cheer leaders make a human pyramid. When the rat pile got 1/2 way up the carcass, they didn't start eating, they kept piling until they got to the hook, at the top.
Then they gnawed away at that top part and the whole cow dropped to the floor and the whole mob of them devoured it like a piranha would do.
It was unbelievable."
So my friends, I have just revealed another "Klecko Secret Indulgence".
I study rodent behavior.
But before you color me off as a "Rat Geek"....just think about this for a second.
Rats damage 1/5 of the worlds entire food crop each year. That's 33 million tons annually.
So if you have any gratitude in your body, thank those Food Service Workers in your city who remain diligent, and fight the never ending war on rodents.