It still boggles my mind I was able to sleep that first night, knowing that Mike, the pest control guy, had confirmed I had bed bugs in the apartment. I suppose the situation was helped somewhat knowing he was able to kill (or attempted to kill) the bed bugs he saw in his initial inspection. I was eagerly awaiting the next day because he’d be back for a full on treatment.
Before he left, Mike gave me instructions on how to prepare. I was told move as much furniture away from the walls as possible. He cautioned me about moving anything from the upstairs to the downstairs part of the apartment. Clothes would need to be washed to ensure decontamination. Other items like books, papers, electronics, and so forth would need a different method.
Mike showed up the next day ready to do full on battle with my infestation. He also brought with him some gifts. He gave me a ton of clear garbage bags. Mike also brought some “No Pest Strips” with him. These things would help reclaim some of my property back. Mike explained that I couldn’t assume anything was bed bug free upstairs. Anything could be a home for bed bugs. As evidence, these bastards shacked up in my night stand. Unfortunately, I had boxes of notes, textbooks, binders and various other things upstairs in my closet. Clothes can be washed but you can’t wash a book or a clock radio. Mike told me to put these boxes into a single clear plastic garbage bag. I then needed to toss in a single “No Pest Strip” into the bag and then seal the bag. According to Mike, keeping the bag sealed with the pesticide strip inside for two weeks would ensure anything inside that bag would be dead.
I think I prepared three or four boxes this way. It was tough knowing I would be able to get at this stuff for two weeks but it was better to safe than sorry. Mike also brought something special for my mattress. He gave me a mattress bag, which is just a giant plastic bag shaped for a mattress. Usually they’re used for protecting mattresses during transport but he told me to put my mattress in the bag and then chuck in two of those strip things. I paused briefly at the thought of sleeping on a bag containing so much pesticide but as long as the bag was kept sealed I’d be ok. Plus, the additional thought of knowing any of those bed bug fuckers would be dying inside that bag made me feel somewhat better.
Having prepared the boxes of my possessions and my mattress, Mike asked me to leave so he could begin pumping nerve gas into my apartment. The truth is, he really wanted to use some powerful stuff to kill the bed bugs but he explained to me those chemicals aren’t available to him anymore because of government regulation. He said that back in the day, they’d just DDT the place and be done with it. We now know DDT is too dangerous to use. I told Mike I’d trade six months off my lifespan if it meant we could DDT these bastards back into hell.
In any case, I had to leave the apartment for a few hours while Mike did his thing. After the requisite amount of time, I returned to my apartment and started a protocol that I would follow for months. By this second day or so, I had already cleaned one valuable bag of clothes. These clothes had been washed and then dried on hot, guaranteeing their bed bug free status. They immediately went into a garbage bag from the dryer which I then sealed. Upon entering my apartment the bag was left downstairs where there were no signs of bed bugs. These would be my outside, clean clothes that I could wear to class, other people’s homes, and on transit without fear of spreading the bed bugs. As soon as I entered my apartment, I would strip down naked by the door and put the clean clothes into garbage bag and then re-sealed it. The goal was to have the clean clothes exposed to my apartment as little as possible. I would then dress myself in downstairs clothes, these were items of indeterminate status since the downstairs was probably safe but not guaranteed. If I had to go upstairs, I’d get naked again and then go upstairs and put on my upstairs clothing, which usually just consisted my of PJs and a t-shirt. I slept in these items so the upstairs clothes were highly suspect and under no circumstances could they be brought downstairs. Washing upstairs clothing meant putting them in a sealed bag and taking them to the laundry room.
It was weird having different sets of clothing depending on where I was but I just got used to it; sad but necessary. In my next post, I discover some interesting information.
You can find the other posts of this series here.