After all the political battles of the past couple of months — for governor, then for mayor and alderman — all of us are worn out. I’ve had my own battle during that period. So please … allow me to share.

I don’t know what first caused me to look at the bottom of my garage service door several months ago. Perhaps it was the footprints in the fresh snow as I shoveled. Whatever it was, the prints indicated four feet. Now I don’t own a dog and the feral cats that traverse my neighborhood have big feet. What I saw indicated small feet. Days later I noticed that my service door had a perfectly half-oval hole at the bottom of it. The hole wasn’t near where the door is mounted to the garage. Nor was it near the side that opens. Rather it was where two pieces of wood had been joined together as if the creature knew just where to make his/her entrance. I’m gonna make this one “her” … just because I can. LOL. 

The opening was at least 3 inches from the ground at the highest point. As much as I wished it had been done by a squirrel, I knew it had been made by the unofficial official rodent of the city of Chicago. A rat!

I had two simple questions. Actually I had a bunch more but what I needed to know was: Did the rat make the entrance to get into my garage or had Ms. Thing made the exit to get out of my garage? Well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put together that freezing cold weather, the snow, and a warm place to live = my garage. 

Now I would love to profess that I had no fear. But I don’t have an affinity for four-legged creatures with skinny tails, which are as long, or longer, than their bodies! Plus this one had chewed through wood! So with my vivid imagination, I saw teeth that looked like the blade of a saw. Needless to say, whenever I opened my garage door, I made lots of loud noises in hopes that if Ms. Thing were in hearing distance, the loud noises would tempt her to run out once my overhead door went up. I also began putting a plastic case the size of a child’s lunch pail on the floor near the opening hoping that if I blocked it and the creature were trapped inside, it would be encouraged to run out and leave at the first opportunity. I haven’t had a lot of experience with rats in garages, so I didn’t know their habits.

In the evening when I came home and left through the service door, I found a brick to put in front of the opening, my logic being that if the rat was left out, I didn’t want her to find her way back in. 

One morning I went to my service door and the brick was still there. But strangely there were now small rocks and pebbles on my sidewalk. What the hell? Apparently Ms. Thing had begun digging at the rocks and dirt and had created herself a new entrance/exit. My garage is older and apparently she knew just what to do. 

Well, I wasn’t about to be outdone by a rat. I was up to the challenge! So I found some more bricks to try and close up that space on the inside, and on the outside I found an old metal muffler from my lawnmower to place in the ground to prevent her entrance. I was feeling quite proud of myself. 

Fast forward about a week to the coldest night of the year. I’m leaving Naperville and decide to go by the 24-hour Walmart to get some motor oil. I normally add a quart every week to 10 days because my SUV is burning oil. It is 2 a.m. and the wind chill is 20 below and I open my hood. The first thing I see is a small piece of a plastic bag. What the …? On top of my manifold are leaves, twigs, and plastic pieces of bags. Ms. Thing had decided my truck was the perfect spot to make her nest! I knew it wasn’t there 10 days ago. So here I am out in the freezing cold trying to put in oil and blow at the nest. When I got home and parked my warm engine in the garage, I popped my hood open so if she went looking for her warm spot, my engine would be cold.

I don’t know if the rat is still in the garage or not. Now that it’s warmer, I’m lining the bottom of my garage door with metal strips. My son said it best as he cracked up laughing, “Mom, do you realize that you have been battling a rat?” 

Yeah … but I won!


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