Since we’re all stuck in quarantine right now, I thought I’d entertain you with a story that is both the most disgusting and horrifying thing you will probably read on the internet today. I could be wrong… but I don’t think I am.
The following story took place during my first month of backpacking in 2018. At the time, I was exploring Greece.
Within the city of Athens, I booked accommodations in a somewhat-sketchy neighborhood near the Larissa Station metro stop right outside of the city center to save some money. The place itself was fine.
“Aesthetically pleasing,” I should say.
I was a new solo traveler so I was a bit anxious and scared to be thrown into a whole new world abroad with strangers. My European ex-boyfriend was going to meet up with me in Athens so we rented a private place to stay together in for a short while.
The place we found had a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom. Nothing crazy; a simple place. Private, yet economical. Did I mention it was also ground-level?
One morning, with my ex now in Athens, I was following my typical morning routine. I’d wake up early, go to the kitchen, open my laptop, and tutor my students from China. Business as usual for me. Except, you see, while everything about Athens was amazing, there was one little issue that I had with it…
I’d never been to a city with so many roaches. Cockroaches, I’ve come to realize, are probably the most repulsive animals I’ve had the pleasure of personally interacting with.
In the place we stayed at, cockroaches would come UP THROUGH THE DRAINS. Right out the pipes. I hated every second of it. We’d try covering the drains in the sink and shower. We bought roach/insect spray. The whole thing was horrible because I was utterly repulsed by their presence.
That was how I learned that it is not unusual to see this happen in ground-level rooms, especially if the building itself is older. Yay. Lucky me.
Now, to understand what makes this part of the story so horrible, you first need to understand how my gig works. When I’m in class with a student, you have to give them your undivided attention for a solid 25 minutes. You can’t look away from the screen, you shouldn’t pause class, it’s very methodical.
Any deviation puts you at risk for a bad review.
Well, I’m teaching at a table in the kitchen when I see a huge cockroach come crawling up out of the sink, down the cabinet to the floor, and making a run for the door to the left of me. The online ESL platform has a microphone mute button now in 2020 but in 2018, it didn’t!
So here I am, teaching “Cinderella,” trying to look at the screen while also reaching out with my left leg to kill this ROACH SCUTTLING SUPER FAST TOWARDS THE DOOR. In between telling my student how to say “I feel happy,” I’m trying to subtly shout, “Jorge. ROACH!!”
To my great relief, he heard me calling and came to the kitchen to help. Except, the roach was too fast for the two of us. By the time he came to kill it, it seemed to have escaped… out the door?
He goes back to the bedroom. So now I’m trying to finish my class and I feel… a sensation.
It’s the sensation of something on my leg? I get goosebumps. I try rubbing my legs together to make the feeling go away. With 60 seconds of class remaining, I am trying to quickly finish the lesson while dismissing the itch going up my leg because sometimes I do find that I imagine sensations, especially after seeing bugs.
With my voice shaky and my face flushed from anxiety, I distractedly tell my student, “GOODBYE, CINDERELLA!” Just as I reach to shut off my camera, a giant cockroach comes RUNNING RIGHT OFF OF MY HAND AND ONTO MY KEYBOARD. I immediately SCREAM right before clicking the button to disconnect.
A peaceful ending to an already-great class with Cinderella.
I’m jumping, flailing my hand, looking ridiculous in our kitchen. The second I saw that happen, my brain went offline full stop. I could not think straight. When I jumped up, I almost threw my laptop. Never would I wish for anyone to meet a cockroach as up close and personal like I had that morning. Watching it scuttle down my arm is something I can’t unsee.
It actually even brought tears to my eyes. Jorge came running into the kitchen to see what had happened. I could barely talk, I was stunned. I’ve never felt so personally violated IN MY LIFE.
Did this cockroach DECIDE TO RIDE UP MY LEG while I was trying to stomp on it?
Only to proceed by making its leisurely way across my entire body!? Down my arm and onto my laptop?!!!!
Was this karma for trying to squash it!?
If I could have burned my MacBook right on the spot, I just might have. I doubt travel insurance would cover that type of incident. I had to settle on carefully sanitizing it.
I immediately ran to the shower having a full-blown panic attack. Once I finished showering, I dried off, and then I showered again. I enjoyed those showers… and definitely didn’t spend them staring down at the drain in case of more unexpected visitors. No, no. I just showered calmly.