By George Capsis
“The Board of Health is at the door,” announced Polly. With anxiety, I quickly shuffled to discover a nice young Chinese American man who asked to visit my garden for a rat inspection!
When he returned, I asked whether he was responding to the West Village infestation. He said “yes” and mentioned several sites including the Bleecker Street Park that meets 8th Avenue—the one photographed by Maggie B and featured in our February issue just before the big snow abandoned children’s riding toys.
The small Bleecker Street Park sits in front of Magnolia Bakery where an endless stream of tourists walk over to sit and eat the incredibly expensive cupcakes made of globs of butter and sugar. This activity rains crumbs to an almost tame chorus of birds who hop closer and closer to intimidate you to feed them. The polyglot visitors also drop crumb filled containers into the overstuffed wastebaskets to keep for the rats’ early dinner.
“Rats, rats,” exploded Nelly. They also gather in frightening numbers at the Fulton Street Houses parking lot on 16th Street next to Western Beef. Nelly pointed to a swarm of pigeons eating a mass of dry white bread spread by an urban avian friend just before the rats arrive.
“Do you give Fulton Houses a ticket for the rats?” I asked my nice young Board of Health Inspector. He smiled and said, “Yes, but since the buildings are owned by the City, nobody ever does anything about it.”
That reminded me of the 6th Precinct police officers who drive in from Queens and park their private cars half in the road and half on the sidewalk on Charles Street. When I admonished a young officer he brightly, and with a smile, explained that Charles was too narrow and if he didn’t park illegally on the sidewalk a truck might scratch the side of his new car.
“Why are you working for the Board of Health?” I questioned my obviously over qualified inspector. “Because they pay $40,000 and I am going to medical school when I have saved enough up.”