Ants have invaded.
Not my kitchen. Not my bathroom. Not my closet.
That’s right. For some reason, despite the lack of anything in the vicinity that could be considered edible or even organic, a gang (or is it “army”?) of ants has decided that my automobile would be a perfectly reasonable and sensible place to locate their home base.
It all started a few days back when I noticed an ant in my car. I had it crawl onto my hand, then I rolled down the window and put him outside. Didn’t think much of it.
Then the next day, I got in my car in the morning to go to work, and I noticed several ants on the dash. I thought that was odd. Then I noticed a few more by the gear shift. Then I noticed several coming out of my vents — like a scene from a nightmare horror movie.
I opened the door and saw several in my door jam. They seemed to be coming out from under this plastic cover protector, so I tapped on it a bit (a trick I learned from an enthusiastic exterminator a few years ago) and a few more came out.
I decided a car wash would be in order. I went to a self-serve wash with a pressure spray, and went through the whole cycle, being particularly sure to hit those cracks in the car where ants might be hiding. Then I spent a little time wiping ants out of the door jam. And I drove to work.
It’s a bit tricky driving an ant-infested car… I’d frequently see an ant on the dash within reach, and have to grab for my tissue to crush it. If you don’t hit it just right, it just crawl onto the tissue and then you’re carrying an ant-covered tissue in one hand while you drive. A tad distracting. I’d put the tissue out the window while I was holding it so the wind would blow away any uncrushed crawlers into history.
I got to worked and had a pretty typical day. After work, I went out to the car, opened the door and checked out the jam. There were a ton of ants in there, moving at double time. They were frantic, they were numerous, and they were on the move. I think either the car wash or the driving made them decide to pull up stakes and relocate yet again, because most of them were carrying eggs in their ant mouths. So I spent some time crushing and sweeping them out of the door jam to assist in reducing their numbers.
I drove to Ron’s Farmhouse for the Friday night show. Whenever I got to a red light, I would open the door a bit and sweep out any ants that had emerged. One particularly long red light, I was sweeping and crushing frantically, when I looked up at the car next to me and saw the Chinese driver staring with obviously confused wonder as to what could possibly be transpiring in the car next to him. He did not look very Americanized, so I suspect he may have considered that he was witnessing a methamphetamine addict in an episode (“How very American!”). His female passenger (in the back seat oddly enough) had a similar look of confusion.
I, realizing their reasonable confusion and being a conscientious citizen (well, Permanent Resident at least), thought it my duty to alleviate their confusion. So I made what I considered the internationally recognized motion for “roll down your window”. They did not (nor did they even acknowledge this rudimentary attempt to communnicate). Nevertheless, I shouted out through their closed windows “ANTS!” You know, as though that would clear things up. (“Ah, he has ants in his car. Remember when that happened to Sheng?”)
They still showed no sign of commiseration. I couldn’t think of any other way to get my point across. Had I had a English-to-Mandarin dictionary and/or the ability to write Chinese script characters, I would have hand crafted a sign with the equivalent of the single English word “ANTS” and held it up. But the light turned green and I had to close my door and be on my way.
Of course, that thing happened where you do something bizarre and embarrassing to a stranger in an adjacent vehicle, and for the next several blocks and stop lights, they are still there next to you, trying to tread the careful balance of treating you with continued equanimity and being cautious for your next bout of unpredictable insanity.
The ants are still in the car, although their numbers are fewer and (hopefully) dwindling. I am learning to co-exist with them.