My bedbug encounter | Bleader

My bedbug encounter


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Two summers ago I was sitting on my couch one weekend morning, reading. I'd noticed that I was itching a bit, but didn't think much of it until my hippie-chick upstairs neighbor came down and knocked on my back door. She and her boyfriend had bedbugs, she said. She thought they'd picked them up in a San Francisco squat they'd recently stayed at. But they didn't want to use chemicals, and so were trying to get rid of them by other means. Great.

After I bitched about the situation on Facebook, I heard back from a kind acquaintance, former Reader staff writer Gary Rivlin, who commiserated—he and his wife and young son had had them in their New York apartment. He gave me some valuable advice: spray alcohol and spread diatomaceous earth around all baseboards. Most important of all, he told me to go buy microfiber protective coverings for my mattress, box spring, and pillow.

It's a good thing I was relatively flush: I had to spend a couple hundred bucks on these supplies. But they seemed to help—at least at first. I was all excited to have gotten off easily, but as happens in most cases, the bedbugs came back again. And again. And again. I began to dread going home at night. Finally, I told my neighbors, "Enough with the home remedies already. I'm calling our landlord."

Rudy is a sweetheart, and whereas some landlords wash their hands of bedbug infestations and make the tenant deal with it, he immediately called the exterminators. The next night, glumly walking home to face more bites, I was delighted to find my apartment all torn up, the couch on its end, the cushions disarrayed—the service had already come. I called Rudy to thank him, and he said we'd been in luck, they just happened to be in the neighborhood (I live in Rogers Park, and as Julia Thiel notes in her story, the problem isn't uncommon there). That finally did the trick, and thank god I've been free of them since.

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