A mere handful of hours away from the commencement of my operation, operation debug, found me head in hands slumped against a wall and soaked in tears. I had hit a low point literally and emotionally. I was painfully aware of the fact that I was only hours away from my own D-Day operation and the stress of the final preparations was almost too much to handle. But it wasn't the stress that finally broke me. So what was it that brought me to tears? And what was this operation?
Two weeks ago on D-8 day (not long before Christmas) our sources informed us of a major problem. Our defenses had been breached and the enemy had infiltrated our house. The second story bedroom belonging to my housemate had bedbugs. The week before we had been alerted to the potential threat of infiltration. We investigated with caution and could not confirm or deny the breach. That is when we brought in the expert. The pesticide man arrived and with a few questions he set about looking into our problem. Within a matter of minutes we had proof that our security had indeed been breached in a most serious manner. The enemy had made great inroads deep into our territory and had established itself quietly while we were busy fighting other battles. By the time we realized that we had a problem the enemy had already established a large enough presence to show itself boldly.
What to do next? Since the bedbugs had surprise on their side we hardly knew what hit us and the initial days after the assault found us reeling in shock. In order to minimize casualties my roommate pulled out of the area in order to regroup for the attack. We knew we had to act fast to repel the invaders and regain our territory. An emergency war council was called. We needed to hit hard in order to win. This was one operation that could not be done in half measures. The list of preparations seemed endless but we set the D-Day operation for Thursday. Every room needed to be cleaned from top to bottom. The items all needed to be removed from drawers and shelves and sealed in plastic bags. This way contamination was sealed in and when objects were cleaned and placed in fresh plastic bags contamination was sealed out.
Armed with garbage bags (or bin liners as they call them in this soggy land) and cleaning supplies I tackled room after room. I began in the spare room and threw the odd left-over pillows into bags. While I had lost my first housemate's help on the first day when she abandoned her room, leaving that front empty, I lost the help of the second housemate to a business trip. To be fair to business, laziness and a native selfish air would have prevented him from being much help even in the event that he had stayed. So, it was me and my army of trash bags that lept into the fray.
In preparation for our D-Day operations I spent less time at the museum and more time in my house cleaning and prepping. D-7 day passed with cleaning, then D-6 day did the same. One by one the days flew faster and faster with the mountain of chores seeming to grow rather than dwindle. I was a hurricane of preparation. I packed things into bags, made sure pointy edges didn't tear through, tied everything securely and moved onto other items. I labelled and taped and moved things everywhere. I scrubbed the floors and the shelves and the drawers. I emptied and cleaned everything. I shredded countless old useless bank statements and took loads of rubbish out to the street, including bags of things other people had been too lazy to remove themselves.
So, the night before our D-Day operation was to be launched I was a swirling dervish of mad cleaning activity. I was running low on supplies, energy and patience. The enormous roles of trash bags had dwindled to a shockingly small amount left. I was pushing around some furniture to get at the really hard to clean bits of floor in the narrow part of my room when I ran out of paper towels. I realized I needed more towels to finish off my corner and that I was running low on time. I lept to my feet and stood up hard underneath the low hanging eve in that section of my room. The low slanted ceiling raced downwards to meet my head as I raced up to meet it with astonishing force.
The impact left me stunned and speechless for a few interminable moments, half crouched, half standing under the ceiling at the back of my room. Then as the pain started to set in I put my hands gingerly to my head and literally sank down the wall. The pain. The stress. The tiredness. They were all overwhelming and I suddenly found myself in tears and unable to stop crying. (And I'd already packed the tissues somewhere I couldn't find them. Great!) A few moments later I realized that there was nothing I could do but carry on. Nobody could or would help me and it all needed to be done. So I picked myself up and carried on.
Over by the paper towels I found a lint roller. I picked it up to put it away and found that it had no cover and was too sticky to just pack away as is. Absentmindedly I rolled it back and forth on the edge of the dresser top thinking what to do with it. It stuck to the dresser and picked up a bit of dust. Suddenly I had an idea, a wonderful, terrible idea. I decided to use the lint roller to pick up the dust and dirt in my room. It wouldn't just push the dust around and leave it in the air. Everything would stick onto the lint roller and go directly into the bin. No mess, no fuss, no problem. At my lowest point I had stumbled onto a bit of an epiphany.
Slowly, with bin liners, cleaning supplies and lint rollers in hand I eliminated all the dust and dirt and bagged all of my possessions. Clothes, offices supplies and Christmas gifts alike all went into bags. At six in the morning I was nearly done. I took a quick nap and then got up to take the last of the trash out and do the final touches. H-hour was scheduled for 9am. Just after 9am the pesticide man arrived. I called a taxi and left him to begin the barrage on the bugs. It was H-hour and the time for the reckoning. I left my house feeling a bit like the Grinch who stole Christmas. I had bagged up everything and was ready to ruin their Christmas as they had tried to ruin mine.
I was ready to be done with the whole thing. At least I learned the power of a lint roller in cleaning shelves and other dusty surfaces, but nonetheless... Bah-humbug and good riddance!