Monday, November 1st, 2010
18

I Saw A Bed Bug On The Bus

So I saw my first bed bug in New York City this weekend and, thank god, it was not in my apartment. It was in a pretty bad place, though. On a bus, the M9, on the sleeve of the windbreaker of a man sitting right next to me and my kid and my kid's friend. We were with my kid's friend's mom, too, heading to their house to have lunch after karate class. (The kids are in the class, not us adults. Still, though, I've been watching. So don't fuck with me.)

There is no doubt that it was a bed bug. It looked just like the pictures: like a small, flat, reddish-brown ladybug, with the striated abdomen. It was a foot and a half away from me. I looked at it for a good minute before getting the attention of my kid's friend's mom, who saw me staring at something, but was too far away to know what it was. "It's a bed bug," I said, mouthing the words, so no one could else hear.

Her eyes widened. "Eww!"

I agreed. "Eww."

"Should we get up and move?" she whispered.

This was a good idea, I thought. "Let's go guys," I said to my kid and his friend. "We're getting off soon." I helped them up, and very carefully herded them past the man, who was sitting there with two kids of his own. I made sure to push them as far away from the disgusting vermin in our presence, and shuffled them quickly down the aisle.

Standing up toward the front of the bus, I felt kind of bad, looking back at the man and his kids. Had it been obvious what we were doing? That I suddenly decided to move as far away from them as possible? He surely hadn't seen the insect on his arm. Should have I told him it was there? I thought about the horror of what they must be going through at home. And what a bummer it would be to be stigmatized. They didn't look much different from us, these people. Their clothes were clean, other than the one horrible, blood-sucking parasite clearly visible on the man's nylon coat. And then I thought of an even worse possibility: that it hadn't even come on the bus with him. Maybe his apartment is not infested. What if this single specimen that had just hopped on to him recently, moments before I spotted it, perhaps? Maybe it was the bus that was infested. Maybe the things are dropping down from the ceiling onto passengers. Like six-legged, sharp-penised life-ruining rain.

"I am totally freaking out," I told my kid's friend's mom. "My skin is crawling."

"Me too," she said. "Should we get off at the next stop?"

We did. And after a not-possibly-thorough-enough search of our clothes and the kids' clothes, walked the next five blocks to her place.

18 Comments / Post A Comment

Jasmine (#8)

I sense a public apology coming. Something along the lines of, "Dear guy on the bus with the bedbug. I've been keeping myself up at night wondering whether, if the bug was new to you on the bus, whether I might have kept the epidemic from reaching your house where your children sleep."

(I'm also endlessly checking public transportation for critters, awful.)

Also, the last time I saw a certain Awl editor (coughBALKcough) he questioned whether giving me a hug hello would be prudent, considering the fact that "I Fought Bedbugs and Won," it still stung a bit. Stigma, indeed.

Polly Peachum (#8,145)

I\'d have burned my clothes, or at the very least, had them fumigated.

Learning that people sometimes pick up bedbugs from other people\'s coats at parties has forever changed my habit of throwing my coat down in the bedroom. The bed could belong to more than one host.

Is it illegal to cry \"Bedbug\" in a crowded theater?

kneetoe (#1,881)

Only if there is, in fact, no bed bug, and that would hard to prove.

jolie (#16)

(screaming)
(scratching)
(crying)
(scratching)
(screaming)

birah r. (#4,504)

how are those plans to place a giant glass dome over the entire city coming along?

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Oh great, now they'll know about our plan to amputate them like a gangrenous limb.

No more tourists, though, New Yorkers! Everybody wins!

garge (#736)

Props to you for not abandoning the kids and jumping out the window.

Mary HK Choi (#1,469)

BRY! WHY WERE YOU ON A BUS????!!!

Dave Bry (#422)

a) My limousine driver quit when I had to stop paying him money. (Don't recession shame me!)
b) Some places one needs to go with kids are not accessible by New York City's fine subway system.
c) Kids' legs short legs walk slow/get tired.

kneetoe (#1,881)

Guy was just thinking "Thank god that guy with the bed bug on his shoe is moving."

I'm super scared about infestations at work. The sun times just ran a story about cubicle infestations. Gah. I'm going to go pour rubbing alcohol on everything.

propertius (#361)

Now I'm nostalgic for the days when all you had to worry about was wall to wall roaches.

hman (#53)

I'd rather sit next to Arianna Huffington on a bus.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

If you see something, say something!

bedbugs are like mini-zombies

SeaBassTian (#281)

You've single-handedly made me feel less neurotic about my bed bug evasion techniques: crossing street when passing a dirty mattress on the sidewalk, thoroughly inspecting fabric seats on the bus for stealth insects and avoiding "clothing kisses" in crowded subways.

wakechick (#8,730)

ugh this story makes me itchy! If you happen to get bedbugs in your home you can get rid of them by using diatomaceous earth. I get mine online at http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/ProductCart/pc/Diatomaceous-Earth-Food-Grade-p39.htm

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