Dictionary 55. I Smell a Rat

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Shelly was working in her Manhattan office one night for the first time. No one else was in the office. At about 9 p.m., she heard a scratching noise. She got a little scared. She looked around. "Hello," she said loudly. "Is anyone there?" Nobody answered. The scratching continued. She got up from her desk. She walked over to where the sound was coming from. She looked in a trashcan. She saw a small rat. It was trying to climb up the side of the plastic trashcan, but it was making no progress. Its claws were useless on the hard plastic. "How did you even get IN here?" she asked the animal.

She picked up another trashcan. She slid that trashcan into the trashcan with the rat in it. She walked downstairs carrying both trashcans. She went over to the security guard's desk. "I have something for you. I think it's still alive," she said. She gave him the trashcans. He pulled out the top trashcan. He said, "Well, one down. How many to go? There are dozens of rats in this building. They're most active at night." She said, "Well, this is my first rat, and I hope it's my last. What happens if one of these things bites me?" She went back upstairs.

A week later, she was working in her office around lunchtime. The heat was on in the building. She smelled something. It wasn't a good smell. At first, she thought it was a coworker's body odor. Then she thought it was a coworker's lunch. Then she thought it was a dead animal. She walked over to her manager's desk. "Something smells really bad. I think there's something dead in our office," she said. He said, "I hope it's not Mr. Evans. He's getting up there. I can't smell anything. Where is the smell coming from?"

She led him over to the heating vent near the windows. He put his nose down near the vent. "Phew!" he said, as he jerked his head back. He called maintenance. A worker arrived a few minutes later. He opened the vent. He found two dead rats inside. Shelly's manager said, "Boy, Shelly, what a good nose you have! How about coming up to the tenth floor with me and sniffing around? Maybe we have dead rats up there too."

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