For Glacial Detritus Aficionados »« Cock Roaches: A Cautionary Tale

Cock Roaches II: Wherein a Story is Related

Onamission5 shared this story on our previous post, and it compels me to share for those who may have missed it:

Your roach analogy reminds me of something so I’m going to piggyback a bit and I hope you don’t mind…

Many years ago, a girlfriend of mine and I traveled across the country to a southern state for a music festival. Staying at her parents’ house, I went to use the bathroom one day and out from the baseboards crawled a huge cockroach, quite bold and content to be where my feet were without fear of me stomping on it. I freaked, running out to the living room where my girlfriend’s family was located and informed them of the giant roach, what should I do?? They laughed. Roaches are normal, a part of life here, they said, yes they are gross but you get used to them after a while, besides, they hardly ever come out in the day, they are usually content to patrol the house at night, yes we know they carry all sorts of disease, but what you gonna do?

Cockroach! Image courtesy Ted & Daniel Percival via Flickr.

Cue moving to FL some years later, similar experience to yours with the apartment except our landlords engaged in blaming us for the roach problem that was there when we arrived, saying we must have caused the infestation with our dirty habits (of living the normal lives of busy people with children) because none of their other tenants had complained about roaches before, imploring us to spend hundreds of dollars on plastic containers for our cupboards so the roaches wouldn’t be tempted by our food, we should put our pets on a schedule and keep the pet food dishes clear of leftovers after every feeding, take our garbage out daily, vacuum daily, and engage in all other sorts of “common sense” hypervigilance maneuvers because they were completely unwilling to admit that the roaches were a problem they should deal with. *We* were supposed to alter our lives according to the habits of the roaches, *we* were supposed to spend money we didn’t have to protect ourselves from a problem that our landlords weren’t even willing to admit existed, let alone take steps to solve. We were forbidden on threat of eviction from using “chemicals” on our own. We were forbidden from calling in experts to help us. We tried to follow their instructions, we tried to be good, compliant tenants, but the problem kept getting worse, and after a year of exhausting hypervigilance and increasing denial+hostility from the property owners, we finally gave up and moved.

These experiences mirror my experiences with calling out sexist bullshit, trying to hold people accountable for actions which harm others. The roaches are everywhere, what do you expect, what you gonna do, besides they’re mostly hidden in the walls which is perfectly natural and it’s your fault they come out because you tempted them so you just have to get used to it and suppress your horror and hang your clothes up where the roaches hopefully can’t reach, seal up all your food, show some self discipline, and take your shower/eat your breakfast/attend that conference/frequent that space anyway. Or move, and leave the problem behind for someone else to fall unsuspectingly into.

Exactly.

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