Thursday, July 01, 2010

Out, out damn bugs.

Bugs are in the news.

A Hollister clothing store in New York apparently shut down because of a bed bug infestation. Employees were being bitten for days but the store remained opened, which is not a good thing as that means customers could have purchased infested clothes.

Then we have a flight that was cancelled due to a maggot infestation on the plane. Here's some video on that incident.

I'm no fan of bugs per se. I don't mind them, if they stay where they belong and leave me alone. They don't. So I'm not reluctant to engage in mass genocide of creepy-crawlies that I find on my turf. I mentioned the huge spiders I ran into when in Africa but they weren't infestations, where you deal with hundreds of them. There were plenty of them, far too many for my liking but I eventually got rid of them.

There are only two real infestations that I remember, unless you count ants, which are merely annoying for the most part.

Some years ago I was employed by the Sammy Davis Jr. Golf Tournament, which I guess became something else after his death. I was brought in for some specific jobs that needed doing over a few week period. It also meant getting to attend an event that was sponsored with Bob Hope, Davis and Scatman Crothers. The one who made an effort to come by the offices and meet everyone was Crothers, who seems sadly forgotten today. By that I mean his career is forgotten since he died not long after I met him. There were other entertainment people at the event but, for the life of me, I can't remember who they were.

What I remember about the job, other than the entertainment factor was my office and my computer. I worked on a Wang system—which like Scatman is no longer with us. It was once a computer giant but disappeared into oblivion.

My office had glass walls and looked into the main office. From there I could pretty much see everything that was going on. One day I'm sitting at the Wang and it felt like something was crawling on me—everywhere. This feeling escalated, especially on my head and neck. I would run my fingers through my hair and then tried to see if I could see anything. My eyesite is damn good when it comes to microscopic things. And I looked at a piece of paper on my desk and could see these tiny bugs crawling on it. If I shook my hair I could see more of them fall to the paper.

At this point I was trying to figure out what was going on. And, I was rather embarassed by the whole thing. I looked around and everyone else seemed fine so I assumed that it was just me, which was even more humiliating. I was baffled by the whole thing as these certainly were not lice but I didn't know what they were. Then I started to notice people slowly reacting as they had the same problem. At this point I feared that I had infested everyone since I was itching before anyone else I assumed I was the source.

After about 20 minutes I couldn't stand it anymore and informed everyone that I had to leave and leave immediately. I didn't want to explain, I just went. I bought some Quell at the pharmacy and headed into the shower at home. It stunk but it worked. All my clothes were immediately washed as well. And, since I had no idea what was going on I had my sheets and everything else I wore laundered as well. It took hours to do all that.

But the problem was gone.

The next day I call the office only to be told by them that I shouldn't come in. Apparently after I left the problem exploded throughout the whole office with everyone covered in microscopic bugs.

Apparently before I got to the office the previous day a delivery of paper was made. Boxes of the paper were put in my office, which is closed off to the rest of the suite of offices. The boxes were infested by paper mites. My sitting in a closed office with the bugs meant they got to me long before they spread elsewhere.

I wasn't the source of the infestation, as I was horrified to think might be the case, I was merely the first victim. The offices were closed while being fumigated. It was the only time I ever found myself in a real infestation, at least one that bothered me.

There was one other incident, when a friend and I went to a resort in Mpumalanga. Mabalingwe was a resort I enjoyed many times. Maybe three or four times a year I would go for a few days. It wasn't my favorite game resort, which would be Bonamanzi, in Hlulhluwe—a smaller park but I loved the lodges that I could rent there.

The odd things aobut the Mabalingwe infestation was that I seemed immune. The first night there I slept like a baby. My friend who went with was covered with bite marks from some sort of bug. We were in the same room yet he had dozens of bites and I didn't have a single one. It turned out the was something of a bug magnet—he seemed to have the same effect on women I might add, but don't read more into that than what I said, I'm not comparing females to bugs.

We went into Bela-Bela in the morning to the chemist shop and was told the entire area was infested with these small bugs so we bought lots of bug spray and something for the bites. I never got bit once the entire time we were there though my friends legs were covered with bites that swelled up. At least that time I didn't blame myself.