I think most students would agree with me when I say that Princeton is an incredibly safe place. Perhaps because the school is surrounded by quiet suburbia and protected by a very visible campus police force, I had never felt endangered while on campus. But that all changed on a recent Friday morning.
On that particular day, I awoke early to what I thought was the sound of ice cracking outside my open window. However, as I lay listening, I realized the crackling sound was actually coming from inside my room. As my pulse quickened, I looked down to find an empty plastic shopping bag throwing itself back and forth on the hardwood floor inches from my bed. I knew this could only mean one thing.
“Andrew,” I shouted over to my roommate, “There’s an animal in our room.”
I’m still not sure what it was, but something about my roommate’s upbringing in suburban Detroit had prepared him perfectly for this moment. He came hurtling out of his bed with the speed and finesse that I can only imagined came from his glory days as a high school tennis player.
Snatching up the Swiffer in fluid motion, Andrew charged the convulsing bag. No sooner had Andrew leapt forth, brandishing the mop like a knight with lance, than did the squirrel emerge from the crumpled plastic.
This was no ordinary squirrel, and it was certainly not one of those cute little creatures that charm visitors on campuses across the country. No, this guy was deranged. Those usually cute paws were carving ragged scars into the hardwood floor while the adorable cleft mouth was emitting throaty growls reminiscent of a Wookiee warcry. Although we quickly realized we were no match for the impassioned creature, we knew we had to mount an offensive. Perhaps as an appeal to our own sense of masculinity, we had to stand up to the little devil.
So, we brought forth everything in our arsenal. We poked, prodded, shouted, pleaded and even sacrificed a jar of peanut butter in our attempts to usher the squirrel back out the window. But it turns out the squirrel was more concerned with the radiator’s warmth than with the threats being hurled around by two half-dressed college kids. After 45 minutes, Andrew and I retreated to the far side of the room, realizing that our efforts had only succeeded in slinging crunchy Jif all over my clean laundry.The squirrel remained as crazed as ever.
Finally, we resigned ourselves to call in the professionals. I slowly dialed the Department of Public Safety, all the while making sure to avoid the little beast’s judgmental glare. Within minutes, the Public Safety officer arrived with Muhammad, a Building Services employee.
It turns out that Muhammad is not only the school’s resident expert in varmint removal, but he is also a much braver soul than I. As Andrew and I stood outside, Muhammad entered the room to commence his signature routine.
We listened intently as Muhammad spoke sweet nothings to the squirrel and used his feet to beat out rhythmic patterns on the floor. The cadence seemed to calm the squirrel down, but after several minutes of coaxing, Muhammad emerged to report that the squirrel was being “especially sassy.” Even Muhammad’s secret weapon—a squirt bottle filled with water—only succeeded in evoking more Wookiee screams.
Finally, the public safety officer suggested that we head to class while he took care of the problem. Though I wouldn't be there to witness it, I was told the removal process would involved a representative of Western Pest Removal traveling to campus to grab the creature with a chain mail glove and deposit him back outside. I can only hope the little beasty was deposited far enough away to discourage any further weekend getaways to my dorm room.
Although I now hate squirrels, I am thankful to the University staff for conquering Chewbacca. I now sleep more soundly at night with a closed window and the blessed reassurance that Public Safety and Muhammad are there to help in my time of need.