There’s nothing worse than a rat running up your leg and using your knee as a launching point to jump up to a high shelf, right? Nothing nastier then driving away from a German cockroach job, glancing up at the rear view mirror and seeing a cockroach crawling around your neck? Nothing more horrible than taking two steps into a room and being instantly covered from the belt down with hungry, biting fleas?
Well, I’ve had all these things happen to me on multiple occasions. Yet the answer is yes, there is something even worse: bed bugs.
The absolute worst account I’ve encountered makes all of these scenarios seem mundane. It’s one I won’t soon forget.
My knock on the door was met with a “C’mon in, sweetheart.” I was soon face-to-face with two of the sweetest people on earth, Skippy and Suzi. Married for more than 60 years, they were sitting in their living room, surrounded by a mountain of magazines, mail and newspapers, as well as other collected debris that had accumulated over the decades.
They were such sweet people, and perhaps oblivious to the pest problem they had. But within mere minutes, I was aghast.
Bed bugs rested comfortably all over the flannel pajamas Skippy wore as he lounged on the couch. He told me about the semi-professional singing career of his youth. He handed me a CD of his greatest hits, and every stage of bed bug was visible in the CD jacket. I politely took it, with my gloved thumb and forefinger, smiled and said, “Thank you! Let me set this over here so I don’t forget it.” (I made sure I forgot it.)
Suzi admitted to me she saw a few bugs from time to time on her favorite chair, but not a lot. When I took a closer look at her weekly pill reminder case, sitting on the nearby coffee table, I realized it had bed bugs in every day except Thursday. Her chair looked like an entomological study on bed bugs gone very wrong.
BUILDING TYPE: Residence
LOCATION: Central Florida
THE HORROR: Elderly couple unphased by the terrifying amount of bed bugs that were living with them.
That, my friends, was just the living room. And it doesn’t even do that 200 square feet any real justice. For just two people in this small and crowded home, it was very apparent I was in for a huge fight.
I moved on to inspect Skippy’s bedroom, and he was close behind. He wasn’t so much interested in showing me any bugs, but instead proudly showed me his guitar collection and electric organ, which were all infested. I glanced down and realized I already had two bed bugs clinging to my pants leg.
Suzi’s room was about 6×8 feet, and it resembled a crime scene. There was dried blood on every square inch of the mattress. There were cast skins about a half-inch thick along all the baseboards — not to mention all the live bed bugs just living with no regrets on every possible surface.
Back in the living room, I explained the treatment process and Skippy and Suzi both said, “Do what you gotta do.” The war was on.
This job was epic and took months to get under control. Sadly, about midway through treatment, Skippy had a fall, was moved to a nursing home and passed away soon after. At the end of it all, I was back in the living room with Suzi, who was full of tears and broken-hearted. She thanked me for all my hard work, and told me how grateful she was that she could finally sit without bugs crawling on her.
As I left for the last time, I picked up that greatest hits CD. I had to put it in an old computer just to play it, but I must say: Not bad, Skippy, not bad at all.