The Ugly Truth

I don’t usually upload news articles, or talk about the news, but I wanted to upload this story because I have lived through something similarand I think anyone living in Paris should read it. Anyone living in Paris should also keep abreast of the situation, and if possible even lend some support. Perhaps even call or write to the city on these resident’s behalf. It sounds like they need people to notice and lend their voices. 

Most people in center Paris will probably never be so poor that they have to stay in buildings overrun by mice. Their guardien, or the Syndiq, will usually care for the building enough to stop it before it gets bad, and the Mairie would probably never let it get so out of hand. This story, for those that don’t read French, is about residents living in the 20th. The building they live in is one of those 60’s era tower block monstrosities that dot the outer arrondissements. It appears that the residents not only have to live with a mice infestation, and a host of other problems like bed bugs and mold, their street is also infested with rats.

Now sure anyone who lives in a big city is probably used to seeing rats. But I wasn’t. Maybe I grew up cloistered, but before I moved to Paris I had never seen a rat or a mouse, except at Petco. In America if you have a rat or mice problem that means that you’re poor, and dirty, and your house should be condemned. The only instance rats are allowed is in NYC, and that’s only because we’ve become so used to the idea of the two going hand in hand.

Just to be clear; rats are even in the posh districts. I didn’t see rats in Paris until I moved to the 16th. They are all over Trocadéro Gardens. You’ll see, and hear them, at night playing in the trees and bushes. You’ll see them in the day time all over the grates to the aquarium. They’ve made that park their own. I’m sure they’ve slowly spread out to the surrounding buildings. Most Parisians would advise never living near a parc (or on top of a restaurant) for this reason.

I worked for a family on Benjamin Franklin and the mother once came upstairs complaining about a dead rat in front of her building. She said this was the second one she’d seen. She complained that the city wasn’t doing anything. She took a photo and sent it to the Mairie (it’s a new app the city created). The Mairie came out straight away and cleaned it. That’s the difference between posh districts and the double digit é. 

Christian bought me a stuffed rat from IKEA, that I lovingly refer to on my social media, and who he and I created a whole imaginary world for. Billingsley started out as a joke, but came to be something more for Christian and I. Then I unwittingly moved into an apartment that had a mice problem. I only spent one week in that apartment, but it was one week too long. I didn’t sleep and I became paranoid. I went crazy from lack of sleep and paranoia. He used to laugh at me because he said his apartments in Oxford and London had mice, but as an American, who grew up with a different outlook on rodent infestations, it was not something I was, or could get used to. Even after I moved out I heard imaginary sounds and thought I saw things for a week after. I had an irrational fear that they had stowed away in my suitcase. Christian had to take Billingsley to London because I couldn’t look at him. I was traumatized. 

So I bring up this article, and this fight, that the residents are waging because I can imagine the strife these people are in. With Paris in lockdown this makes their issues so much worse. Everyone in Paris should take notice. People in Paris should lobby for these residents. It might not be you today, but it could be you tomorrow.