By John Addyman
This is the time of year when those of us who live in the 315 area code start thinking about mice, like the ones who are trying to spend the winter in your house.
But I have a story to share about a certain mouse that became a friend and gave me a lovely experience. And the story is all true.
Many years ago, I made a living as a corporate trainer, teaching good-writing habits to business and technical professionals. My clients — many of them multi-national companies — normally made my lodging arrangements for me. My classes usually took three days to a week.
One fine day I found myself in a brand new hotel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was watching TV, trying to doze off after dinner. It had been a long day of classwork. I was about two-thirds asleep when I realized something was in bed with me; on top of my blanket — looking at me.
I opened one eye, cleared my vision and stared at a mouse that was perched, more or less, on the comforter above my big toe. This was a little hard to believe. The hotel was pretty swanky, but brand spanking new. This guy must have found a hiding place during construction.
He wasn’t hiding anymore. He was staring at me, bemused.
I slid my hand over to the nightstand and picked up the phone. I pushed the button for the hotel operator. The mouse watched me, interested.
“Hotel operator,” someone with a pleasant voice answered.
“I have a small problem,” I told her quietly, keeping my movements as still as I could.
“I have a mouse in my room.”
“Are you sure?”
“Am I sure it’s a mouse or am I sure it’s in my room?”
She paused. She’d already deduced by my voice that I was a Yankee. “Are you sure it’s a mouse and is it in your room?”
“Yes and yes.”
“Would you like me to call the bellman for you?”
“I don’t think the mouse has any bags to carry.”
“Would you like me to call the exterminator for you?”
“How long do you think that would take?” I asked.
Another pause. This was a new hotel and nothing in the operator’s “How to Be a Good Hotel Operator” training covered this. And, I was a Yankee on top of it.
“To tell you the truth, sir, I think our exterminator is just for bugs and things, you know?”
“Not ready for big game, you’re saying?”
“I don’t know what he’d do for a mouse except set a trap or something.”
The mouse hadn’t moved off my toe. “I don’t think this mouse is the kind who will go for a trap,” I told the operator. “He’s a pretty bold little guy.”
“Where do you see the mouse, sir?”
“I’m looking at him right now.”
“Is he under the bed?”
“No, he’s on the bed.”
“And where are you, sir?”
“I’m on the bed, sort of under the mouse.” I thought she’d enjoy pondering that for a moment.
“Sir, I’m going to connect you with the manager.”
I hear a couple of clicks and then a buzz on the phone. I assume the operator is reporting to the manager and the manager is figuring out what to do. I check on the mouse, and he’s munching on a piece of Oreo cookie I must have dropped on the floor. I’m wide awake now.
“Mr. Addyman, this is Mr. Smith, the assistant manager. Do I understand that you have an infestation problem of some sort?”
Managers of this fine chain of hotels are trained not to use the M-word, I gathered.
“Yes, Mr. Smith, I have a vector on my comforter.”
“Are you in bed, sir?”
“Are you comfortable?”
“I am, sir. This is a lovely room.”
“What behavior is the infestation exhibiting?” he asked. This guy was magna cum laude at some hospitality school.
“My little friend — let’s call him Mickey — is eating what’s left of an Oreo cookie.”
“Does he seem hostile, Mr. Addyman?”
“No, he’s pretty laid back, Mr. Smith. I think he likes your hotel and plans to make it his home. He apparently likes your guests, too.”
I think Mr. Smith sat down. The silence at the other end of the phone told me Mr. Smith was having agita. But he rallied.
“Mr. Addyman, let me assure you we take every precaution to remove and prohibit pest infestation of any sort.”
“Well, you missed one,” I told him. And now I was getting a little fed up. I figured Mr. Smith was employing a tactic from hotel school to keep me on the phone long enough for the problem to solve itself.
My mouse was getting bored, too. He jumped off the bed and headed for the heating–air conditioner unit, where he lived, I gathered.
Then he changed direction.
“Uh-oh, Mr. Smith,” I said as I waved good-bye to my companion. “Mickey has bolted; he’s heading for the door and the bottom of that door is high off the carpet and I’m sure he can squeeze under it. Yep! There he goes, Mr. Smith! Off he goes down the hall to visit other guests!”
“Oh, my goodness!” shrieked Mr. Smith.
“Don’t you have a group of Baptist Bible women holding a prayer meeting down the hall, Mr. Smith?”
“Oh, my GOD!!” Mr. Smith was now shouting orders to people. He was, I was sure, rounding up all the busboys and bellhops and front desk staff to run up to the second floor, where I was, to catch the mouse.
I was one step ahead of him.
“Tell you what, Mr. Smith,” I told him. “I’ll run out into the hall and corral ol’ Mickey for you before he gets to the ladies.”
“Oh, thank you, Mr. Addyman!”
“…of course, I’m just getting out of bed. So I’ll be chasing Mickey down the hall in my underwear…”
“Oh, NO, Mr. Addyman!”
“…at least I THINK I have my underwear on. It’s so hot down here and the room is so warm…”
“Mr. Addyman, please stay in your room. PLEASE! I’m sending people upstairs right now to catch the mouse.”
Wait a minute…what did he say?
What were his people going to catch? Did he use the M-word to a guest? There was silence now on the phone. He was hoping I didn’t notice him using that word.
I could hear people in the hall now. Somebody — this I couldn’t believe — had his fingers under my door, feeling for the mouse.
Stepping over to the door quickly, I gently pinched one of his fingers.
“YIKE!” came the sound from the other side of the door.
In a second, Mr. Smith was knocking on my door.
“Mr. Addyman, you must open the door so we can catch the, uh…so we can have a talk with Mickey.”
“Just a second.” I quickly put on my tie, stepped into my pants and shoes and opened the door. For the next five minutes, six people looked high and low in my room for Mickey. They found nothing. Mr. Smith was the last one to leave, apologizing profusely. He offered me the rest of my stay on the concierge floor. I accepted. The bellhops returned and took my stuff to a much nicer room. I lingered one last minute after everyone had left.
I took a cookie out of the bag in my briefcase and put it under the heating–air conditioning unit. “ Thanks , Mickey,” I said. I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of my stay at that hotel.