When we first arrived in language school in our new country, I was in the habit of going to the bathroom in the dark if it was the middle of the night. If I turned on the light I would become too awake and not be able to go back to sleep. I especially needed my sleep during language school and I purposely would not turn the light on.

I don’t know why, maybe my mind was playing tricks on me, but one night I felt like I should turn on the light…in the middle of the night…in my bathroom. I was already in the bathroom. But I argued with myself, “Why should you turn on the light? That’s ridiculous. You never turn on the light and you need to sleep well tonight. You are letting culture shock rob you of sleep. You’re only nervous because things are so different here. Don’t give into the pressure of culture shock. Just go to the bathroom in the dark…like always.”

But slowly, like a creeping premonition, the pressure to turn on the light turned into a fear…a fear of something waiting for me in the dark.

Slowly I turned and switched on the light. Sitting on my toilet seat, dripping wet, was a HUGE rat. Not the lab rats you see on TV, but an enormous, city sewage rat. He had swam up the pipes and into our bathroom through the toilet. For a moment, frozen in time, we blinked at each other. Most likely we were both trying to move while trying to shake off the paralyzing shock. All at once the rat jumped straight in the air, turning in mid-air in one of those slow motion action scenes, water splashing and spinning in every direction. I screamed bloody murder and ran back into our bedroom. My husband jumped up, still asleep, and ran into me. I screamed something unintelligible and locked myself in the room. My husband, seeing the rat, told the kids to stay in their rooms with the doors closed. Then he, the hero that he is, burst into action.

He ran for a broom and trapped the rat into the bathroom. Why he closed the toilet seat is still a debate that rages through the folklore of our family history. The rat, scared to death, kept trying to jump back into the toilet to get away from this crazy family and kept hitting the toilet seat with a thump. Over and over, secured behind my locked bedroom door, I could hear my husband grumbling with a distinctive thump every few seconds.

The war raged on for over two hours. At some point the rat broke free of the bathroom and ran helter-skelter through our little house, running up and down the drapes and under the couch and chairs. I could hear my husband yelling and crashing into things for what seemed like all night. Finally, exhausted from all the craziness, my husband opened the front door and the rat escaped, thinking better of swimming up toilets in the near future.

I learned my lesson. I now turn on my light to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Better to lose a little sleep from the bathroom light than sit on a soaking wet rat. Right?

 

What about you? Do you have a rat (or other critter) story? What tip would you give to those living in a new country?

 

colettebio

Photo Credit: PKMousie via Compfight cc