Wednesday, November 14, 2012


My office is next to a metro stop, so when I visit my friends in Virginia I leave my car in our parking lot, take the metro there and back, and then walk from the metro to my car. This means walking past my office building and through a landscaped area with a pond and wetland area next to a creek.
It was about midnight last night when I got off the metro. As I was walking to my car in the dark, I saw something that looked very much like a rat the size of a mastiff. My limbic system dumped an impressive amount of adrenaline into my body before my prefrontal cortex realized that it was a beaver.
The beaver shuffled quickly away from me and into the lake. I am fairly certain that it lives there. It may be my imagination, but it seems that the water level of the lake is higher than it was a few months ago. There is a culvert separating the lake from the creek, and as I came to work this morning I noticed that the water level on one side of the culvert was significantly higher than on the other side. Beavers love to make dams by stuffing things in culverts. It is probably living in a burrow dug in the bank of the lake.
I do not think I want to tell anyone here that there is a beaver living between us and our parking lot. They might freak out and try to have it removed.
People around here get really wierd about animals. Our office sometimes has mice coming in when it gets cold.  A few weeks ago, one ran past the office of one of the other economists. She has run marathons, and she always seemed to be a strong, capable, no-nonsense feminist. But when she saw the mouse, she yelled for me, and when I came out of my office she had a frightened look on her face and her hands in front of her chest in a stereotypical scared-weak-woman pose right from a 50's sitcom.
And then there was the time when I saw a mouse run into the office of one of the lawyers. She left and refused to go back in for the rest of the day. I had to get her lunch out of her office for her.
Not long after I moved into my apartment, I saw a mouse run into my living room closet. I still had my moving boxes then, so I used them to make a wall around the closet. I then removed things from the closet until the mouse came scurrying out. But it could not leave the wall I had made, I was inside the wall with the mouse, and it had no cover. As it ran around trying to find an exit, I calmly killed it with a few smacks from a rubber mallet.
This is a typical country-boy way of solving animal problems. But I do not think it would be wise to tell that story to people here, or about the time when I killed a mouse with a tonfa when I was in my grad student apartment. They might think of me as some kind of monster, despite the fact that those deaths were swift and humane, much more so than the glue traps scattered around our office right now.

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