Today, I was walking with a friend, when suddenly, she gasped, reached her hand toward her neck and froze. I quickly asked her what was wrong; she was unable to speak. The situation was kind of freaky, and I had two thoughts: either a bee had just stung her neck where she was holding her hand or she had seen a ghost. She also looked at me strangely as though maybe I were the ghost. I felt my face to see if it had morphed in some way. My face felt normal. Finally, she was able to point to a rat that was about 12 feet in front of us and quietly breathed out the word "Rat." Sure enough, a fat rat in all its disgustingness was awaiting us on the sidewalk.
"I can't stand rats," she continued. "Why didn't it run away from us?" My mothering nature kicked in at that point and I took her by the arm and turned her around to walk the other way out of the perilous danger. I don't like rats either, but they usually don't render me speechless; I just feel angry at them like they have no right to live in the same place with us. But no one tells the rats about how they don't have this right. So they continue to live and thrive here. Which reminds me of a little alley-way near our apartment called "Rat alley." It's called this because apparently one of the former foreign teachers was taking this short-cut home when a dead rat was flung from an apartment window above him and landed a few feet in front of him.