April 5, 2012


This morning I shared my breakfast with a cockroach.

He gulped down a slice of apple, but hesitated before digging in to the oatmeal.

Maybe its because he had oatmeal for dinner last night...picky picky!

A couple days ago I had to clean his cage. I've discovered that cockroaches have a distinct and powerful odor to begin with, but after a couple days of living there were certain...substances...he'd left behind that magnified this odor. It would be nothing short of cruel to force any creature--no matter how disreputable--to live surrounded by his own waste. So I formulated what I thought would be a good plan and got down to business. Unfortunately, because of my own carelessness and a gross underestimation of his climbing abilities, my new buddy escaped during the cleaning process and managed to elude all initial attempts at recapture.

Even while he was safely contained I had struggled to quell my gut reactions of constant disgust. My thoughts when I was home were filled with images of scurrying critters invading every inch of private space. If I were eating dinner, I imagined each bite contained an insect. I feared there'd be cockroaches hiding in my shoes, underneath my sheets, crawling between sheets of paper before I picked them up. I'd approach the roach's cage cautiously--the hair on my arm bristling in anticipation of a sudden movement.

Knowing he was loose again made this feeling even worse. When I got into bed that night and finally turned out the light I was sure I'd wake up with him running up my arm, or worse, seeking refuge in my open mouth. And of course having him out and about made it that much more likely that he'd bring more friends back with him.

The next morning I pulled back the shower curtain and discovered him scuttling around the bottom of the tub. I knew it was him because he had the same broken antennae as before. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I could feel relief upon finding a giant roach in my shower, but this time I knew I had him for sure. I've so far seen this guy climbing smooth painted walls and the plastic sides of his little fish tank with no trouble, but amazingly he didn't seem to be able to get enough of a hold on the edges of the tub to scale them. With a lack of fear that surprised me (maybe I was still a little groggy from sleep) I herded him back into his container and closed the lid.

And there he remains.

I'm starting to feel a little less skittish around him, and (for better or worse I suppose) he's also become less inhibited with me (now I definitely can't let him loose again!). On the first day he'd freeze whenever I approached him--almost playing dead with his head tucked tight up underneath his shielded neck. Now he moves around slowly, inspecting or nibbling on the bits of food I leave, and feeling out his surroundings with surprisingly dextrous antennae. I wouldn't say I'm getting attached at all, but I do find it strangely interesting to watch him go about his business.

If I end up getting the teaching job in Atlanta I hear that roaches will likely remain a constant in my life. Maybe hanging out with this guy is good practice for the future.



  1. You are truly BRAVE!!! I know I couldn't have slept knowing that it was loose. But I love your positive outlook.

  2. Only you could take pictures of a cockroach eating and make my brain think pet not pest.