When the Soldier’s Away, the Gremlins Will Play

Just after sunrise on a Sunday, my 90 year old grandfather knocked on the door and said, “You need to come down. We have a problem.”

Grandpa was staying with me while my husband was on a two-week National Guard drill.

I put the baby back in his co-sleeper and followed Grandpa down the stairs. He gestured to the closed dining room door. I opened the door, with a chill of dread.

Then, I saw them.


Hundreds of wasps.

Swarming all around my chandelier.

Before I slammed the door shut, I got a glimpse of a gaping six inch hole in my wall, where the wasps had broken through. I could hear the buzzing through the closed door.

My grandfather picked up a newspaper and rolled it up. “What are you doing with that?” I asked.

“I can swat them,” he replied.

After taking the newspaper away from him and making him promise to not try to deal with the wasps himself, I called every exterminator in the phone book. Since it was Sunday, at least half did not even pick up the phone.

Finally I got someone on the line who wanted to schedule an appointment…for Tuesday. A cat batted at a wasp that had escaped the confines of the dining room while my grandfather swatted at another.

“Please,” I begged, “I have a three and a one year old and my husband is on National Guard duty.”

They sent over what, I imagine, must have been someone’s cousin’s neighbor. The “exterminator” sprayed something all over the dining room, which killed the wasps but also killed all my plants and left a powdery substance, mixed with dead wasp carcasses, all over my dining room.

We ate take-out on the living room floor.

My grandfather cleaned most of it up, avowing that, at 95, he had little to fear from long-term toxin exposure. The next day, the company sent someone who knew what they were doing to clean up the rest of the mess.

When my husband finally called to check in from drill, I told him the story. His response: “Did you take pictures?”

Photo by Flickr user Brenbot.

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