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The War on Rats
Fighting for #RodentRights
It occurred to me that if I were to make this newsletter an actual thing I would need to think of a good name. I mindlessly typed "Jake's Guide to New York" as a placeholder when setting it up, but knew I would need a better name. I needed something shorter, more exciting, more memorable.
I racked my brain for well-known symbols of New York City. The Statue of Liberty, perhaps? As a nod to the Statue of Liberty I briefly considered the name "The Liberty Report," but that sounds like a blog you'd read before storming the capitol. Besides, it felt unfitting to name such a crude and vulgar newsletter after the city's majestic monuments. Instead, I turned my attention to another symbol of New York City, one which is perhaps even more prolific than the Statue of Liberty: the humble rat.
You see, dear reader, New Yorkers have been living alongside rats for generations. Rats unite all New Yorkers, past and present, from wealthy socialites to screeching subway maniacs. If you live in the city you likely see rats in the park, on the way to work, coming home from the bar, and just about everywhere in between. They are a reality of life for everyone in the city, and (in my opinion, anyway) they make city living that much more exciting. And thus, out of appreciation for our rodent friends, the Rat Report was born.
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Does this mean that this is a newsletter about rats? Certainly not, though it is about living in New York City so rats are bound to turn up here and there. Rather, when you see this newsletter appear in your inbox I want it to evoke the same feelings as a surprise rat encounter on a New York City sidewalk: you're shocked and exhilarated, perhaps a bit disgusted, but more than anything, you can't look away.
The city has gone to great lengths to try to control their numbers, from poison to trash management programs to the mayor’s rat dunking bucket, but the rats thrive nonetheless. The Mayor's Office even famously released a recent job posting for a position called "Director of Rodent Mitigation," aptly nicknamed "Rat Czar," which described the ideal candidate as "highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty," who must possess a "killer instinct" and "general aura of badassery."
The war on drugs and the war on terrorism are old news. Mayor Eric Adams has decided to wage war on rats.
On Tuesday the mayor tweeted this video of Rick Simeone, Director of NYC Pest Control Services (perhaps this is the rumored Rat Czar?) indiscriminately murdering rats with dry ice in the park, along with a “skilled professional” who appears to be holding a beer bong for some reason at the 1:03 mark.
I fear for the safety of the city employee at the 1:33 mark - while he himself is not a rat, his rat tail hairdo may be enough to send Mr. Simeone into a murderous frenzy.
Mayor Adams has let it be known time and time again that he hates rats. While most New Yorkers sit idly by and tolerate his hate speech and open persecution of rats, I decided it was the responsibility of this publication to stand up for its namesake creature and defend Rodent Rights.
My friend Shelby even received this disturbing piece of propaganda in the mail, suggesting that we “send rats packing.”
The rat is depicted with a cute rolling suitcase, not dissimilar to the mayor’s own popular knapsack, but rather than focusing on what unites humans and rats, Mayor Adams decides to focus on what divides us.
And while I will continue to advocate for the peaceful coexistence of rats and humans, I understand that there are a few bad rats out there, like the ones who shat all over my clean laundry.
It all started, as stories in New York City often do, at a dingy laundromat. I had been introduced to wash-and-fold service when I first moved to the city and was instantly hooked. It works like this: you bring all your dirty laundry to a nearby laundromat (there are millions), pay an exorbitant fee, and the people there will wash and fold all of your laundry for you to pick up later.
I had dropped off a bag of laundry at the laundromat one Friday and my girlfriend went to pick it up on Saturday. Upon picking it up she noticed some brown smears on our laundry bag and on her pillowcase, which was folded neatly at the top of the bag. "What's this?" She asked the laundromat attendant. "Hmm," he replied. "Probably the rats. This place is crawling with rats."
He continued to explain to her that someone had left food in the trash can the night before. He then deduced that the rats must have used our bag of clean laundry as a little ladder because it had been sitting next to the trash can overnight. And in the process of crawling all over our laundry bag to reach the trash, he surmised, they must have taken little shits all over it. This man understood the mind of a rat.
The knowledgable attendant even offered to wash our laundry again for free. We briefly debated what to do. Do we wash it? Do we burn it all and start over?
We decided to discard anything with visible shit smears, then ask the rat detective to re-wash the rest on extra hot.
Now don't get me wrong. I understand that every surface in New York City has probably had rat shit on it at one point or another. Living in NYC is like living in Rat Shit flavored La Croix; rather than the subtle essence of pamplemousse the city is flavored with a ubiquitous, imperceptible mist of rat feces. It's just part of the deal if you want to live here.
But there is something especially disturbing about seeing it smeared all over your clean laundry. You begin to wonder how many rats had to have scampered across your pillowcase to leave that many skid marks, or worse, how many rats had waltzed all over your clean pillowcases in the past and just hadn't pooped? These questions still haunt me when I lay my head down at night (on a different pillowcase, of course). Despite these tribulations, I will continue to fight against the mayor’s message of hatred and violence and support #RodentRights.
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