This damned farm has all the country-ass yokel haram pretension of Duck Dynasty and shambling trashiness and dysfunction of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It goes to show that Northerners know how to embarrass ourselves to hell and back, too–that is, assuming that we’re capable of embarrassment. I wish more of us were, because that level of self-respect and self-awareness might abate the puddles of rat piss I’m facing at what unfortunately passes for work. For the mainstream American audience, I’ll clarify yet again that I work at this dump, often harder than my peers work at their paid jobs, but I don’t get paid a cent for it, and never have. So, as it so often seems to be in my work life, a good answer to “What do you do?” is to admit that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. I mean, yeah, it’s farm work, and it needs to be done by someone if anyone is to get any value at all from the farm, and it’s hella productive, but in a local economy (almost in the classical Greek sense of the term) so broken–really, so thoroughly looted and trashed by those running it–there’s no way to explain it that doesn’t concede my role as a little bitch, so ultimately it doesn’t make a respectable amount of sense.
Two things set me off in the past couple of days. First, Joe Dirtbag made some faux-self-deprecating comments to the effect that he found it cute that he was feeding the rats in the winery building by way of feeding our cat collection. I laughed along partly for reasons of little bitch, but also because there’s always the ominous possibility that JD will turn ugly in a real hurry if he’s challenged. Like any good hippie, he doesn’t care to have his mellow harshed. Unlike the decent sorts of hippies, he considers criticism for nurturing a vermin infestation in an active winery that doubles as a storage, cooking, and bathing area for various farm tenants to be a caustic mell0w-harshing agent. I don’t want him going full Mt. St. Helens on me. No one wants that. This is why we have to watch what we say to him. This is also why I keep concluding, against all hope of private reconciliation, that the only way to clean up this horrible mess is to bring the long arm of the law down on Joe Dirtbag and the farm, Jonathan Josey-style.
Yes, that was sarcastic. Sort of, anyway. My fear that Joe Dirtbag may turn violent if confronted without overbearing competence on the part of the parties confronting him, possibly to the point of suicide or murder, is all too real. But I’m damned if I don’t, too, because he’s breeding and feeding colonies of feral rats in a food processing facility.
The second thing that set me off, a function of the first, was a puddle of fresh rat urine that I encountered this afternoon, within feet, if not inches, of a space heater that I had left in the winery building. The space heater is a cheap 1,500-watt piece of junk that I brought into the building in a desperate effort to stave off the cold on 25-degree nights when I saw no good alternative to sleeping on an army surplus cot in the building. (This was back before I became so sadly used to sleeping in my car.) This space heater cost me $11-something plus sales tax (Golden State represent!), and it was never well built, but as a matter of principle I do not appreciate a dipshit who never pays me and never gives me a decent place to stay these days also allowing animals to urinate around my property. There’s a real lack of respect at play here.
This puddle of rat piss was the most pungent animal waste I’d smelled in that building since the days when the cats were still getting to know each other and were pissing on the walls of the middle room where we were staging wine fermenters during press runs. I’d forgotten about the damn cat stench. The rat piss wasn’t unprecedented in all respects, then. It smelled stronger than the ratshit preceding it, though, if slightly less offensive per unit of odor. Goddamn rats pissing all over the floor around electrical equipment: how the fuck is this not a serious problem? It’s just fucking gross and unsanitary. If I complain about it to Joe Dirtbag, he’ll chuckle anyway. I doubt I have a prayer of getting him to take that seriously. The piss puddle has dried out since this morning, and if I concede this point, he’ll probably act like the problem has abated, as these problems always do. Except that they obviously don’t. Having coatings of dry rat piss on the floor and on no telling how many dusty old boxes and a proliferating rat population instead of a still-wet puddle of today’s piss within foot’s reach is no solution. To think that this is a solution requires a mindset of unfathomable filth. Lucky all of us, Joe Dirtbag has exactly that.
There’s no vector of filth and dysfunction that Joe Dirtbag won’t welcome onto the property as a valued member of the farm community, provided that it doesn’t get uppity. Years ago, it was Lady Pisspan. Then it was Captain Flimflam, followed by his second- and third-order psychotic nuisances, Mixups in my Mind and Psychotarp, and simultaneously–who can forget him, even if he desperately wishes to do so?–Pot-o-Shit Friend. Now it’s the rats. Rats are traditionally inferior animals in Western caste systems, so Joe Dirtbag must figure that they’re Rod Blagojevich-grade fucking golden. They chirp a bit much, but they don’t talk back, and they don’t complain to code enforcement.
I’d probably have lodged a second code enforcement complaint by now if I weren’t reassured that the Ragin’ Canajun takes this rat infestation seriously. When I told him about the piss puddle this afternoon, he said that he was thinking about bringing in a cleanup crew to clear out and disinfect all the junk in the winery building, but to do so sometime when Joe Dirtbag is out of town. The most responsible and competent person on the property assumes that he’ll have to go behind the owner’s back to get anything done. This is how fucked up things are here. RC wants the winery building cleaned up in time for this year’s harvest, but as he said, it would take an individual a week to get it done. I’m afraid that’s an optimistic estimate.
I’ve been on the verge of filing suit against Joe Dirtbag and the farm LLC to force a proper cleanup by a properly equipped, trained, and PAID hazmat crew. I probably won’t go through with it, but again and again something of the sort sounds attractive because the place is such a fucking mess and its principal is so fucking derelict. He just doesn’t give a shit, and he can’t be bothered to give a shit because doing so would cause whatever ethics he has to crash into his monumental ego.
Meanwhile he’s roped in yet another farm investor. He isn’t using any of her investment money to eradicate the rats and clean up their waste, either. The circle of his securities fraud widens. There’s no bottom. It’s just scum all the way down.