Dear Miriam: Was Roach Approach Overkill?
I just moved into a new apartment building. One of my first nights there, an absolutely giant roach crawled across the floor. It was far too big to step on, so I caught it on a sticky piece of paper under a cup, brought it outside and drove my car over it. I’ve told this story a couple of times and been laughed at for “overkill.” What do you think?
I hate roaches so, so much. I am cringing just thinking about each and every part of your question. I suppose it is not helpful advice to suggest that maybe it’s not too late to move? To your credit, you didn’t burn the place down, or seriously injure yourself in the process of getting rid of the thing, so if people want to laugh, well, see if they want to offer to come over next time and deal with it themselves.
Long before I’d ever encountered a roach of any kind, I listened to a lot of Ani DiFranco, including the lyric, “Killed a cockroach so big it left a puddle of pus on my wall,” so stepping on such a thing is completely out of the question as far as I’m concerned. Did I mention that writing this column is going to give me nightmares?
Once you got a cup over it, your options could have included flushing it, throwing it out a window, keeping it under the cup until you found someone else to deal with it or screaming until it disappeared. The fact that you brought it outside is already several steps beyond what I would have been willing to do. The further fact that you did away with it in a quick, yet hands-off manner is remarkable and a testament to your neighborliness, lest the thing find its way back inside.
Aside from my endless roach anecdotes, the larger issue is that people deal with unpleasant critters in a wide variety of ways. Some people can’t stand mice. Some get squeamish looking at worms. Some people yell at squirrels. You didn’t do anything wrong by reacting strongly and definitively. Your friends aren’t wrong to have a different approach. However, nothing is to be gained, in this situation or any other, by mocking someone’s response to stress or offering a critical response after the fact.
You did fine. Maybe you’ll do something differently next time. Maybe not. Hopefully, you’ll never see a roach again. And, more importantly, hopefully others’ reactions to your story will have a positive impact on how you react to others when they share a challenging, potentially embarrassing or just totally absurd story with you.