Las cucarachas

Up until this past year, I’d had the pleasure of not having had any close encounters with cockroaches since my ill-fated Girl Scout camping trip of 1992. I’d hear stories from classmates at OSU about their little friends skittering back into the darkness whenever they’d turn on their kitchen or bathroom lights. These stories would make me feel grateful that I lucked out in the apartment arena and didn’t have any creepy critters running around. [An aside: That’s not exactly true. I did end up having a star boarder in the form of a mouse at my apartment during my (first) senior year. The contraband weekend cat we had was the one who discovered the post-poison-pellet body of the little guy once rigor mortis had set in. Unfortunately, I was the first human to discover the dead mouse when I blindly reached down to pet the cat.]

Watts Hall, where the MSE department is headquartered, is a bit of a crusty old building. There are routine e-mails sent out to the department updating us on the status of perpetual problems such as our rarely-functioning elevators, the wonky heating and cooling system, and occasionally unexpected events such as second floor floods. There’s a group that’s left off the e-mail list, though, even though they’re as much a part of the MSE department as Professor Dregia or even Gary in the foundry. This group is our resident posse of cockroaches.

We have Friday donuts!

We have Friday donuts!

Before you get weak-kneed at the thought of having to put up with cockroaches as study buddies, let it be said that I was unaware of the problem until this past fall quarter when I happened to be running up the Watts-MacQuigg stairwell to class and found one, belly-up, on the landing of the third floor. Shortly after, I ran into the TA for the class and mentioned the disgusting beached roach, and he seemed rather indifferent about the news. Apparently, the roaches are the rebellious teenagers of the MSE family, throwing wild parties on the weekends while feasting on the leftovers from Doughnut Fridays [See that, prospective students? We have doughnuts every Friday!] and then passing out in the stairwells, hung-over from all of the sugar.

So why am I writing about this now? Because even GE has cockroaches, albeit much bolder cockroaches than those from Watts.

About a month ago, as I was walking down the main hallway in the building that houses the majority of the materials labs, I noticed a dark leaf blowing haphazardly across the hall. In my sleep-deprived state, I somehow put two and two together and realized that this could not be a leaf, as: a) it was not yet autumn, and b) there is no breeze in Building 500. I took a closer look and sure enough, it was a roach, drunkenly weaving its way across the hall. For a moment I considered poking my head into the adjacent office of my section leader from last summer to request her intervention, but quickly realized that the interruption would most likely not be appreciated. Plus, her shoes were probably as worthless at stomping on roaches as mine were (this was during the pre-steel toe era). As a result, I turned and ran away from the bug as fast as possible.

Earlier this week, I was participating in a few rounds of interviews for a potential position at GE. After my first interview, I exited the room only to be met by a cockroach that was repeatedly running into the wall. I turned on my heel, thinking that my interviewer might have a solution for this little mixed-up fellow, maybe in the form of a crushing blow to the head, but thought better of it. I could imagine the last line of his notes from my interview: “Caitlin seems to be unwilling to assume responsibility for solving problems of the cockroach variety. She would not be well-suited for work at any of our older, crustier facilities.”

Donut overdose?

Donut overdose?

Yesterday, after turning in my timecard, I walked down the dark, barren hallway of the basement of the building in which I work. As I neared the door to exit the building into the beautiful light of day, something familiar caught my eye. It was the same shade of brown as the floor, but it wasn’t moving. Crouching down to get a better look, I greeted the belly-up cockroach. “Hey, little guy!” I said. He didn’t respond.

Perhaps there is a Doughnut Friday at GE that I haven’t yet heard about.


About Caitlin
I'm a senior Materials Science & Engineering student at The Ohio State University.

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