Something is Bugging Me – Chris Berardi

It was dark in my driveway when I pulled in, maybe around 10pm.  Another long workday, and a long drive back from Exton, PA  I spent the evening cramming the rest of Story Wars.  I was appalled by the unbelievable story about BP and their vision of being green, so green and so truthful about Marketing green initiatives  that they forgot to do everything they said they were going to do.  “What idiots,” I said to myself, “I can’t believe they didn’t see it.”

I  walked through the back door into my kitchen to greet my roomate, Christian a super American, non-Spansh speaking but Latin-looking Colombian guy.   As I fetched myself a glass of water,  He walked over to the steel Chef’s table and sat down on a stool, I could tell he had something urgent on his mind.  He pushed up his glasses with his pointer finger, getting ready to engage in serious conversation.

“Hey man, I’m really not sure how to tell you this, and I feel really awkward saying this…..”

I thought to myself, “Shit, this guy hasn’t even been here a month and he is pulling the “I don’t have rent money”  speech.”   As I start to breathe in for a big sigh, and get ready for an awkward conversation, Christian pulls up his shirt… “Dude, check this out.”

He shows me a series of red bumps on his ribs.  It looked like a bites or maybe a rash of sorts.  My eyes popped out of my head.  “What the hell is that?  Oh my god dude, what is that?” I said.  “Did you ever have any issues with that mattress upstairs ?  I hate to say this, I think it might be bedbugs.”  replied Christian.  My heart sank.  I immediately began prophesying the arduous task of turning my entire house upside down, spraying, heating, sealing, washing, bagging, vacuuming, and most of all fearing being fed on by those blood sucking bastards.

“Show me,” I said.  We ran up two flights of stairs and I put my headlamp on like some sort of bed bug expert.  I obsessively scanned the perimeter of the room, the bed, under the bed, the mattress, nothing, but little pieces of lint, or are they tiny bugs?  I see something that looks like an exoskeleton, but it turned out to be a piece of wood.   I saw other little pieces of something, almost beige in color, skin? Bed bug eggs? Sheddings?  “Oh my god,” I think to myself,  “those are the eggs.

My head snaps over, eyes locked on him like a savage, with the most serious tone since that one time in college where my friend shit  his pants at the bar.  “Christian, you need to wash all your sheets, double dry them on high heat.  Nothing can go downstairs unless it goes right into the washer.  After that, bag all your stuff up and we will unpack it when we know the bugs are dead.  I’m calling Orkin right now.  Let me see those bites again,” Christian picked up his shirt, “Hmmm, yea this could be something serious,” as I glance back to my iphone screen with bed bug bites on Google, and then back to Christian, back to my phone again, almost as if he is a specimen.  Christian looks at me, I look at him, we both look down at the bite, that we look at each other again.  “This is serious,” I said.  “This is life altering shit here dude, you need to go to the doctor tomorrow to confirm these bites”

I think to myself, “ Does this mean that I can’t have any friends over anymore?  What about girls?  Oh my God, our lives are over….I start to look at him as if he is something that needs to be quarantined.   I spent the next hour googling, you-tubing, pacing, circling, and chattering like a mental patient, planning the great bed bug quarantine of 2018.

“D-d-do you think I can m–maybe sleep on the couch tonight?” he asked.   “No, of course not!” I replied.  “What are you crazy?   You will bring the bugs everywhere! Everywhere!!! They might already be in the couch too!  Make sure you wash your comforters and sheets ASAP! And Dry them on hot to kill off the bugs.  I’m going to bed, I have a long day tomorrow.”

I go to bed, and try to hope that everything is ok.  My inner monologue is saying, “It’s cool, Chris, it’s probably nothing, a rash, or maybe chicken pox or something stupid like mosquito bites….in the winter…in Philly, sure.

5AM Wake-up.  Showered, dressed, ready for work.  Just need one more thing, my boots for work.  Head to the basement for my Work boots, down the stairs, and Oh God! Oh Dear God!  It’s a bug, it’s crawling at the bottom of my stairs.  Oh no!  It’s one of them, but how did it get from the third floor to the basement?  I step on it, and kind of partially mash it to kill and immobilize it.  I grab a plastic baggy and place it in there, then put it inside another ziploc, just in case.    Orkin is coming at 2 tomorrow, so I can show the guy when he gets here.

The workday was weird, I was all over the place, listening to youtube videos on some of the world’s foremost bug experts.  I became an expert on how to effectively rid of bed bugs in one’s home, and what to look for to detect and destroy bed bugs.   I ordered a couple sprays from  Amazon that had great reviews and then some mattress covers for both beds.

Christian called, I picked up the phone, “What’s up man?”   “Hey, I have great news, my doctor says it’s a rash, it’s just a case of — “  “ I don’t care what your doctor said!  I saw that god damned bug in the basement where you dropped off your comforters, and I saw the bites on your ribs, it’s clear that you have bed bugs in your room. Let’s see what the Orkin guy says and we will go from there.”

I leave work early to meet the Orkin man.  He arrives at the door just after 2pm… a tall dreadlocked dude, with a thick Haitian accent.   As I hold a hand on my head and recount the story to the him,  Christian lifts up his shirt,  shows him the bites, and I bring him the bag with the bug in it.  He takes a quick look at it, and he looks back at me and says…..”That’s not a bed bug and those aren’t bed bug bites.”

“Are you sure? It looks like all the pictures online.”

“Yes, that’s a waterbug, bed bugs grow, but they aren’t that big.”

“Impossible”, I thought to myself, how is that even possible, as I recall the sheets,  the  bites, and the basement bug, it all adds up to me, and Christian is sure of it too.

We toured the house with the Orkin guy, who  checked every room, every mattress, all the crevices for signs of bed bugs, sheddings, fecal matter.  To our relief there were not bugs, or signs of bugs.  I couldn’t believe it,  I felt like I cheated death or the bubonic plague.

So all this happened and I’m thinking to myself about the idiots at BP.  Then I think to myself, I called those guys idiots, and look at me, I’m believing my own bullshit too.  If there was no Orkin man to stop me, I would be spending a fortune on bed bug remedies over one litte water bug in my basement and a funny rash    BP believed their prophecy so much that it became reality.  While the prophecy of BP was very much positive, it resulted in a negative outcome and significant oversight.  On the other end, my prophecy was super-negative and extremely neurotic, and thankfully resulted in a positive outcome.  In both cases there was a false truth or dream that was confirmed by a story, and strenghtened by Marketing within a company, or a multitude of youtube  videos from the digital era.   The guys at BP weren’t idiots, they just believed in something and were naive to the truth. Me on the other hand.. I might be an idiot, but at least the experience made for a good memo.