At my old job, if a cockroach was spotted in the front office or hallway, I was the one who dealt with it. It wasn’t in my job description but beings how I didn’t run off screaming at the sight of them, it fell to me.
I will now pause to discuss the two types of cockroaches of which I am most familiar. My plan was to add pictures of real live cockroaches, but I feared some of you might run off screaming. Therefore, I shall try my hand at drawing them.
The cockroaches of my youth, the little ones who regularly visited my childhood home, were these guys:
They are commonly called German roaches, though as a rule, cockroaches care little for ethnic labels.
They are about an inch long, have a dusty brown coloring and can be found most anywhere, such as in your kitchen right now.
They are looking for a snack and really wish you hadn’t tossed that rotting fruit as it’s one of their favorites. That was very wasteful of you.
They’d also prefer it if you’d stop cleaning so much. You’re wiping away all the good bits. And not to make too fine a point of it, but you’re cramping their social life. How do you expect them to find their friends if you keep wiping up their poop trails?
The other roach of my childhood was not as frequent a visitor, though he made quite an impression with my family nonetheless. My mom referred to him as a sewer roach, but he’s more commonly called (at least in the U.S.) the American cockroach.You’ll note I used the same picture, just made it bigger. It’s not just that I’m lazy… okay, yeah, I was being lazy. But really, their bodies aren’t that different. It’s all about size and coloring.
He’s much bigger than his German counterpart and more of a shiny, reddish-brown.
Oh, and here’s an interesting fact: the American cockroach didn’t originate in America. He came from Africa. Wanna guess how he got here?
That’s right! It’s commonly believed they arrived on slave ships. So the next time you see one of these buggers, meditate on that.
The reason my mom called them sewer roaches (many in Phoenix do) is that they often come up through the drains. Plus, they’ve got that shiny thing going on, giving them a lovely sewer aesthetic.
Ah, the memories these fellas conjure up for me. I can still see Brother running out of the bathroom screaming, streaking down the hall because a roach came up the drain as he showered. Or my parents practically tearing apart our T.V. room because they spotted a particularly large one scurrying across the tile. “It’s as big as my foot!” my mom sputtered, somewhat known for exaggeration but in this case, she wasn’t far off.
Good times, good times…
It was the American cockroach I dealt with at my old job, back when I worked at a high school in Scottsdale, Arizona. Sometimes we’d find them in the hallways, but more often they hung out where we did, in the offices and our break room. One of the offices was very close to both the break room and janitor’s closet. Meaning it saw a lot of cockroach action. Sadly, the secretary who used this office really really really hated cockroaches.
She and I, we became friends. All she had to do was come to my desk and give me that look.
I’d ask her where it was; she’d give me its last known whereabouts. I’d open my cabinet and withdraw my tools: a plastic cup and a stiff piece of paper. After locating the little fella – who was rarely little – I’d slip the cup over him and slide the paper underneath.
Live capture, folks. I only do live capture.
Once he was safely ensconced within his plastic dome, I’d take a walk outside. He and I, we’d make our way across the staff parking lot and over the rocky landscape, out to the tall chain-link fence that held us prisoner. There I would set him free.
You see, I wanted to give the guy some options. He could take his chance crossing the street to enter one of the nice Scottsdale homes on the other side, where they probably served premium cuts of meat and world-class wines. Or he could return to our break room for a stale donut and old coffee.
My method had its detractors.
It is amazing, is it not, how many people are in favor of capital punishment? “There’s a roach in the kitchen! Kill it!”
I never argued with them. Instead I would say, “I don’t like to hear the crunch.” Because, you know, there’s always a crunch.
And besides, I liked getting outside. Dawdling by the mesquite tree, breathing in the city air… ah, the smell of exhaust fumes on a hot afternoon. There’s nothing quite like it.
“They’re just gonna come back!” my detractors would say in a terribly condescending tone. (My detractors were always men.)
I’d say, “probably,” and return to my desk.
The truth is, I kind of knew they were returning. I figured that was why they became so easy to catch. I think they recognized me.
“Oh, it’s the blonde – no need to worry. Field trip!”
What I didn’t realize was that they were returning for a reason and that reason was not stale donuts.
It happened during my last summer at the school. Our bookstore manager was trying to track down a package and was concerned it had gotten mixed in with some other boxes headed to storage. “I really don’t want to go in that room,” she told me, “but I think I have to.”
“What’s the problem?” I asked.
“It’s the Roach Room.”
I’d heard tales of this room but I’d never actually been there. Now was my chance! I quickly offered my assistance. She said yes!
We made our way down the empty hallway. The room was at the end of the Social Studies department, where students learn history, political science, and how we got into this mess.
The bookstore manager got out her keys, unlocked the door and shivered a little. “Are you sure you want to do this?” she asked me.
“Yeahyeahyeah,” I said.
She opened the door and flipped on the light. I expected to hear scurrying… there was none. We stepped in. No roaches. None!
I was indignant. “I thought you said—“
She turned to face me and her eyes got wide. She pointed behind me. I turned toward the wall…
It was just like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland where all those bugs are crawling up the cave wall!
It. Was. So. Cool.
She did not share my enthusiasm.
Anyway, here’s the thing: there were no drains in this room! No sink, nothing containing water or food. Nothing! Just boxes and boxes of books and old files. That’s it.
So what were the roaches doing there?
It’s obvious, isn’t it? They’re educating themselves. Reading up, studying our history. No doubt making notes of our failures and weaknesses.
Make no mistake about it, my friends. They will one day rule us all. They were here long before us and they will remain long after. We have to come to terms with this. There’s little sense in fighting it.
And when they finally rise to power, who do you think they spare but the one who showed mercy?
So the next time you smush one under your shoe and hear that crunch, remember there’s another one nearby. They’re always nearby.
They’re watching you.
They know what you’ve done.
37 thoughts on “All hail Lord Cockroach! (It’s only a matter of time.)”
Brings back memories of the SPED office. I shutter at that memory but I had Jimmy on speed dial😝
Haha — I think Jimmy was too busy dealing with them for the rest of the campus, that’s how I wound up handling the front office!
In true high tech fashion, I’ve “out-sourced” the solution to my local cockroach problem.
Yup, the exterminator company comes out every three months and sprays.
I’m sure the cockroaches have now labeled me a “war criminal” and come the apocalypse I’ll be a marked man…
Oh Andrew, what have you done? Listen, I’ll put in a good word for you and maybe they won’t let you suffer too much. 😉
The roaches in southwest Florida are even more terrifying – however bigger so not as sneaky. But you’d never consider smashing a Palmetto bug – it’d take you months to clean up the carnage. Besides I couldn’t find crime scene tape readily. So those creepy crunchy buggers also got the same field trip treatment in my home.
That said, I listened to the wisdom of my paternal grandmother who spent her last years of life in Florida (and is entombed there). I got a big package of bay leaves and added them to every shelf in my pantry and kitchen. It did reduce the number of bugs in the house but didn’t eliminate them.
Now living near the mountains on the west side of Tucson, dealing with the scorpions that come inside our house is a whole different matter. If they have invaded our space, they get an immediate death sentence upon discovery. No catch and release or field trips for these almost invisible offenders (the same color as our carpet and tile). Just the flat underside of a shoe.
Hmm… I looked up Palmetto bug and it showed me American cockroach. So that’s confusing. But more importantly, here’s an interesting fact: Though I spent most of my life in the desert, I never saw a scorpion except at the Phoenix Zoo. I know people who had a terrible time with them, always finding them in or around their homes, but we never did. I guess where I lived was always too urban for them. Either that or the cockroaches claimed the territory first!
Ah ha ha ha ha! This is so brilliant. I recall the massive roaches of HK. A friend there had the fantastic skill of knocking them unconcious with tap on their head with her shoe. Then out they would go! But I didn’t enjoy one dropping in my hair from a door ledge! And finding them in my airing washing. Euwww! I confess I couldn’t bear to get that close to them, unless totally unavoidable. Thank you for a good laugh! 😅
Ps. Love your drawings. 🐜
Oh yikes — I haven’t seen any big enough to knock on the head and I definitely would NOT want them dropping in my hair! That really would send me off screaming. 😀
Thanks for nice compliment. These roaches were surprisingly fun to draw!
This is absolutely glorious! The depictions are fucking great! Having slept with an American cockroach once in Texas and lived with a bunch of Germans in California (I know, they don’t appreciate the ethnic labeling), I feel connected to this piece. Deeply connected. Thanks for the afternoon laughs!
That’s what we hope for in blogging, making connections. So glad you found it in my roach tale!
So you slept with a roach, huh? Once at work — as I was typing, mind you — one of them trotted across my keyboard! 😲
Beyond fine! I have an agreement with all bugs…I will never harm them as long as they stay out of my space. I promise I will do my best to stay out of your their space and I will
even give them a rough drawing of my neighbor’s floor plan and tell them which mat the
key is under. You (and your excellent writing) have caused me to read an article about
cockroaches from beginning to end, That is most surely a first. I bow to your prowess with the pen (and/or keyboard). Keep on keeping on, I’ll be back!
Haha — thanks for the humdinger of a compliment. You know how to make a gal blush.
Hey, I read a few of those articles too. You have to admire their ability to survive, don’t you? And to think of all the various species of cockroaches, they say only 4 are considered pests. That’s pretty amazing!
that ‘your space’ should be ‘their’ space.
I will surely return to Your space!
Understood! Thanks again!
I think that fell under Other Duties as Assigned.
You know that job description very well! They were smart to add that line. 😀
Haha! I’ve gone from being very easily freaked out by various six and eight-legged creatures to not bothered by most of them (there are a few exceptions). Thankfully I’ve never seen a huge cockroach, but did encounter the smaller ones when, in my early twenties, I worked in a day nursery. The children couldn’t pronounce ‘cockroach’ or even ‘roach’ and thought everything was a bluebottle (fly), so they called them ‘bloobies’.
I like your drawings. And your whole post reminded me of this:
Oh Lordy, that the most glorious video I’ve seen in a long time! Thank you for that, I sent it to my daughter, who I believe is now considering a change in careers, that of cockroach-handler. 😀
Also, I think if we started calling them bloobies, everyone would chill and we’d get along so much better.
Even I considered that change of career when I saw the vid. But then I did have some strange little pets when I was a kid, including Daphnia and worms (the kind in the soil, not any other kind)… 😉
Okay, so now I had to look up Daphnia. What a beautiful name for a water flea!
They’re cute, too! 🙂
Hahaha!! This was a great tale and lesson for all. Roaches are exceedingly rare her in Durango, though I did catch one in the restroom of the biology building at the college one (American sort). At a job in Nevada, I shared an apartment with three co-workers that was overrun with the smaller sort. Yeah, dropped on me from a door, and ran across me as l laid in bed – not cool. Exterminator called. One, rescue – hundreds? Not a chance!
Ah, see, this is something I learned in my research for this post. When it comes to the big ones it’s no big deal. But the small ones? If you see one, you can bet money you’ve got hundreds if not more.
Which is what made our storeroom discovery so weird – I’ve never seen that many in one place! Leading me to the only possible conclusion: they’re seeking total world domination. 😉
Are cockroaches “the meek”? Because it really does seem like they shall inherit the earth, with all of their poop trails intact! Love your way of thinking, CJ.
I suppose if you spend all your life scurrying around in corners and eating garbage, you’re bound to be a little meek, don’t you think? 😉
This was sublime! The drawings! Loved every inch of this. I also believe the meek will inherit the earth and translate that as the insects and animals. I was rearranging some pots in my greenhouse the other day and stood still for a full 10 minutes to allow a disturbed army of ants to regroup and find a new route, before I risked squashing any putting my pots back on the ground. They are HIGHLY organised. Once they learn computer code, we’re done for. I hate spiders but my partner hates them more. I’m proud to say I operate a catch and release policy. (On the spiders, not my partner). 😊
Haha! Thanks for the clarification on that last bit. After we had a Christmas party at our house, and only right after mind you, I discovered there was this huge, very impressive looking cobweb right above the beverage table. Spider in place, and she was mighty impressive looking too. We must have had 30 people in the house, surely someone had noticed? Or maybe they thought it was a leftover decoration from Halloween!
And no, we didn’t kill it. My daughter and I did our best to relocate her, web and all, to a shaded area outside. My son recorded the event for snapchat. Shocking it didn’t go viral, yeah? 😉
I can see a movie in production with your story. Make sure those guys are being fed. Making a movie about roaches can be a daunting task… jc
Oh wow, I hadn’t considered the marketability of this tale! Thanks JC! 😀
Sounds like you have a future as a roach coach. Of course, they’ve been around for so long, one wonders who’d be coaching whom.
Oh gee, I hadn’t considered that. If I prove myself useful, I suppose they’d have to keep me around.
I wonder if they need a secretary?
We had the really big roaches in the garage when we lived in Texas. When you turned on the light, there was a massive scattering as they all headed for safety. Kind of unnerving.
Oh, that makes me think of my shed here. The one with the mice. I actually started knocking on the door before I open it, thinking it would send them running. My husband thought I was just being polite!
I am the chief in-house creepy-crawly removal service and, despite the standard alarm call-out exclamations alerting me to the fact that my services are required, namely ‘Arrrrgggghhhh!!!! KILL IT! KILL. IT!!!’ I do refuse to kill it and am, as the name suggests, simply a removal service.
I don’t know why people are insistent that animals they aren’t going to eat have to die for having the temerity to exist and share in a space that humans have deliberately made warm, comfortable and full of food.
And humans are choosy. Like when a spider just innocently scuttles from under the TV stand to under a chest of drawers in under 3 seconds, it’s ‘KILL IT!!!!’ but when the dog barfs on the carpet for a full 30 seconds, I am not required to kill it, even though I am more inclined to do so.
I mean, the cats leave hairballs under the bed, but we don’t whack them over the end til they lose consciousness.
Well, at least not while people are watching.
Cats? Oh yeah, you can do that to them. It’s legal and everything.