Or maybe a rat in the kitchen? A few weeks ago a couple of people sent me questions wondering if it was true that there had been rodent sighting(s) in the area of the campus cafeteria. The answer is yes, and I answered them directly. The rumor mill has been churning with vigor since then, though, and although the issue is pretty much addressed, the rumors keep coming and getting bigger and better.
First, about “Mickey and friends.” It turns out that some construction work several weeks ago in the basement of John Sealy Annex disturbed the local “ecosystem” and afforded access to these unwanted pests. The rats had a new onramp into the building, with sushi leftovers and castoff French fries at the other end.
The first sightings were from the night crew; as days passed, the rodents grew bold and there was a report of one hightailing it across the area by the cash registers at high noon (no word on whether he or she actually paid). I’m sure this will surprise you, but word gets around pretty quickly at UTMB, and at about this same time, one of our employees became alarmed and suspicious at a mysterious dark morsel floating in her Cafe on the Court gumbo (which I also like to eat, incidentally). If you thought mouse poop was floating around in your soup, would you take a nibble to confirm your suspicion? No, and neither did she.
But she did rightfully raise the question, and fortunately the “rat droppings” turned out to be a false alarm; the gumbo was checked out and it turned out to be grains of regular rice, just a little darker than usual. The local Health Department came in to inspect the area and the control measures that were put in place; they found no rodent issues in the food prep or serving areas and advised that we continue to address as we were/are doing. I’m sure they’ll be keeping tabs on our progress.
When I last got an update, the issue was under control and the rats were feeling very unwelcome, but like the gumbo, the rumor mill had barely started simmering. Soon, we were hearing reports about rats dancing across pizzas, people (always a “friend of someone I know”) having rodents trounce across their laps, the cafeteria closing in X-Files fashion for decontamination, and in the cruelest of cuts to any fan of tasty gumbo, the good reputation of UTMB Catering was soiled, their gumbo wrongly implicated the mouse poo-poo false alarm. (Catering actually has their kitchens in Rebecca Sealy, far from the once-marauding rodents of John Sealy Annex).
The lesson in all this? I don’t know that there is one, when it comes to rats and rumors. Logic would dictate to most of us that absolutely no one wants rodents anywhere near our facilities, for a list of reasons too long to list in this post. So addressing a situation like this rapidly becomes a top priority for everyone. And top priorities of this nature typically get relatively quick results, which was the case. Rumors, however, aren’t quite so easy to exterminate.
If you see rodents or other pests at any time anywhere on campus, lodge a report by calling ext. 25326 or visiting http://www.utmb.edu/clean/. It’ll get attention and get addressed. As for me, I’m suddenly craving cheese (but hold the gumbo).