So we New Yorkers are paying more for our subway soon (which angers most everyone). The L line has an occasionally working display of the next train’s arrival time — something London’s Tube has had for decades — otherwise it’s up for grabs when your train will clank to you.
And while we wait, we watch. ALL of us watch for rats.
I’ve been afraid of rodents since Canada Day 1977. The day my parents were taking me and my newborn sister to Banff for a summer vacation. Waiting to go to the airport I played with my gerbil Steve. And he bit me. Downstairs, I waited for a Band-Aid as my mom dried her hair, and then my bloody finger tip and I fainted. We haven’t been the same since. Not even Jasper’s marmots shook off my new aversion to rodential -like beings.
I keep an eye out for rats wherever I go. I still shudder at ‘what if’ about the fat rat that scurried on a ledge past my ear in a Saigon cafe, or the cat who caught one at my feet in a Pushkar restaurant. Then started eating the little guy, right as I gave up on my curry. Last year in Yangon, a rat dropped on my claustrophobic-bathroom floor as I brushed my teeth. It scurried into my room and I stood shaken, looking up at a bare ceiling, wondering where in the world it came from.
Still, in all my travels, no rat bites, no licked fingers in the middle of the night, no sudden toilet appearances back home.
For this I’m thankful.
Yesterday, while watching a rat chase off two (I could almost say cute) mice playing around on the Brooklyn Atlantic Avenue subway tracks, I got to thinking. What world city has the greatest likelihood of seeing a rat?
I’d really like to know.
If you see rats wherever you are (on subways or under your kitchen table or by your ear), please report them via Twitter at #ratspotting. Or email me. And I will create crucial travel-planning graphs based on the results.
Some things are more important than others.