Australia isn’t the best place for people who don’t like bugs. This place is full of bugs of all sorts, but the two most notable are spiders and cockroaches.
Everybody knows about the spiders – they are big and scary and some of them are hairy. Some live in webs and some live in little burrows in the ground and some decide that they want to live in your house, especially after a big rain. It’s fun.
The cockroach problem isn’t nearly as notorious as the spider issue, but it probably should be. Summertime in Sydney sees the cockroaches coming out in full force. The big ones live outside, and you won’t see them during the day, but they roam around on the sidewalks at night when it’s cooler. They are EVERYWHERE. The big cockroaches can fly and they are fucking scary when they do. It doesn’t matter how high up your apartment is. They’ll fly all the way up onto your balcony at night.
The little cockroaches are everywhere too – especially inside. They can’t fly, but they can nest like crazy. The Cleveland Street house had a nest of them which we finally realized was in the back of our microwave. Yeah, we got rid of that. The little roaches come inside and nest in the back of any warm appliance, usually a fridge or a microwave. They enter through cracks in walls or under doors or sneakier ways like via the tubes leading in and out of your dishwasher. Once we started using the dishwasher more and we replaced the microwave, the little nighttime roach problem at the Cleveland Street house magically disappeared. Thank god.
What fazes me most is the nonchalance that Sydneysiders have with roaches and spiders. When looking for apartments, I’d ask about the bugs. The response that I always received was that there were roaches and spiders (some more than others, and even in new buildings), but it was always followed by “But that’s just Surry Hills” or “Well, that’s Coogee for you” or “But it’s not too bad for Darlinghurst”. WTF people??? It’s not just Surry Hills or Coogee or Darlinghurst – it’s every fucking neighbourhood – completely consumed by cockroaches! EEWWW!
To deal with this ever stressing problem of bugs, I’ve had to make a few adjustments to the way I go about my day.
1. I put food away immediately, and I never leave dirty dishes in the sink. The last thing I need is to attract the little roaches and have them start an infestation. This is a major change from Seattle where you could leave shit out on the kitchen counter for days and there still wouldn’t be a bug in sight.
2. I try not to look down at the ground when I walk at night. That way I don’t see the giant cockroaches which populate Sydney sidewalks. If I don’t see them, do they really exist?
3. I never wear flip-flops at night during the summer. I stick with closed-toe shoes if I’m going to be out after dusk. The last thing I need is to feel a cockroach scurrying across my toes at night. Just the thought of it makes me shiver with pure fear.
4. The first thing I do when I wake up, before I get out of bed, is open my eyes and look around the room just to see if there are any obvious bugs, like the large spider I found one morning during my last week at the Cleveland Street house. I woke up and it was just sitting there… on my ceiling… doing its spider thing. I ran downstairs and got Vicky, because she’s braver than I am, and I implored her to exterminate it. She captured it in a little tupperware container and set it free in the back yard. And I thought: “But what if it comes back?!?!?”
5. Whenever I enter a room, I usually stop and pause for a moment. I then scan the room for any sign of a bug. I quickly look at walls and ceilings and furniture and countertops and anywhere that I may expect a bug to be sitting, especially if I’ve seen a bug there before. The bathroom was the one place that I always checked thoroughly as it was the site of my first encounter with a spider.
Now that I’m out of the Cleveland Street house, I’m hoping and praying that the bug situation will be better at the new apartment, and so far, so good. My hope is that one day I will be able to stop living in fear and will not have to stop and pause and check every room before entering it.
But of course, just as soon as I get complacent, I’m sure to find some giant spider lurking right in front of my face or just above my head. What a life…