I’m not a squeamish person. Back home, I live in relative harmony with the stinkbugs that mosy into my room. If I see an aunt, I’m the kind of person who will look for a window to open so I can transport her safely outside; I do the same with ants too.
But when it comes to rats in the dark, I can’t take it. It’s actually worse when I don’t see them. I live on Bay State Road and when I walk home at night, the frantic scuttling of ratty paws drowns out all thoughts but one: escape. So I walk faster, which I imagine riles the rats more and then I’m positive that one day one will jump out of the bush and bite me and give me rabies and I’ll die.
My scenario is perhaps irrational. My perspective, as statisticians say, is biased. Which is why I’m so very jealous of those whose minds have not yet been so corrupted.
I was eavesdropping on the T when I decided to zone in on a particularly strange conversation. It was between what I gathered to be a father and his two kids. The dad wore a neon yellow work vest that I assumed meant he was part of the MBTA…but if he was working why did he have his kids with him? Are they actually father and children, or related in some other way? So many questions raised as I saw this odd group, and although I didn’t really get to answer any of them, I’m still glad I decided to listen in.
Here are the highlights of the conversation:
DAD: Did you know this subway is the first one in America?
DAD: Isn’t it beautiful? Just look around.
KIDS: They search the car for beauty and find it, their eyes wide in awe.
DAD: You know, rats live down here.
KID 1: Cool! Rats!
We turn a corner and there’s a flash of spark-induced light.
KID 2: grabs on to DAD Look, look, you’re right! I saw a rat, they really do live down here.
KID 1: Whoaaa….
They get off at the next stop.
I try to be a tolerant person, but there are some things I will just never be able to appreciate. Why can’t I immediately see the beauty in the T? Why can’t the thought of rats evoke wonder instead of terror in me, just once?