The recent infestation of grasshoppers in Las Vegas reminds me of the times when Mother Nature would playe games with us here in San Antonio.
Every so often, we’d get besieged with butterflies.
A few years ago, it was the snout nose butterfly as they migrated from up north into Mexico for the winter. A summer drought killed off many of their natural predators & then a rain surge provided them with lots of food (hackberry plant) for their journey south.
And when they come, they’re serious!
It’ll often appear as if it’s actually snowing here (quite a rare occurrence in the Alamo City) when these guys are coming to town. And you’d better make sure your windshield washer fluid is filled & your wipers are in good condition as you’ll find these creatures splattered all over the front of your car!
San Antonio is normally hit with an annual migratory invasion of the Monarch butterfly. These little guys actually spend their winters (Snow birds? Snow butterflies!) in Michoacán, Mexico so San Antonio is right in their regular flight path.
One of the more disgusting infestations around here occurred back in ‘92.
I had come down from New York on a business trip to the USCC during its infancy. I stayed at one of more popular, yet quaint, hotels near the Riverwalk, the name of which now escapes me.
I’m relaxing in my room after work & watching the evening news. There’s a segment that comes on regarding the onslaught of crickets that are absolutely taking over the city.
Apparently, an extended rainfall period at the end of summer created the perfect breeding environment for those boogers.
Crickets are pretty cool when you hear them at night & they’re helpful in determining the current temperature.
(Count the number of chirps you hear in a 15-second period, then add 37 & that’ll approximate the temperature.
But up close, they remind me too much of the bugs back in NY. I hate bugs. All bugs. And, while I’m at it, most reptiles, too.
In fact, when I’m elected Emperor of the World, my first royal decree will be to eliminate all insects (What balance of nature?), all reptiles (Sorry ‘bout that, Mr. Turtle!) & all nasty people.
I’m not a big fan of anything squishy or icky. And I’m watching this news reporter who’s on location somewhere in San Antonio (by a street light, right outside a car dealership) & in the shot, there are gazillions of these crazy crickets.
You can see them all around the place, absolutely covering a few cars & just making for a disgusting scene.
I just couldn’t imagine myself being in a situation like that! (I didn’t relocate down from NY for another year yet.)
I eventually changed the channel to something a little more pleasant.
As the evening progressed, I happened to notice something out of the corner of my eye on the carpeted floor in my room.
I wasn’t exactly sure what is was & I had dropped out of Entomology School pretty early on, so…
All I knew is that it was black, small (not tiny), had legs & I didn’t want it anywhere in my room!
I had enough practice killing bugs back home in NY so I looked around for a good, effective weapon to use.
Over on the table sat this big ol’ hard cover book about San Antonio & all the touristy things to do. It was one of those larger “old-time magazine-size” books (like Life or Look)…anyone under 60, pls go ask for parents or Grandma/Grandpa for a translation…and it was nice & heavy, so I knew it would do the job.
I sneak up on the little bastard, raise the book over my head & start it on its deadly downward flight…
…WHEN THE SOB JUMPS STRAIGHT TOWARDS ME!!!
Thought I was gonna freakin’ die! It was either a flying cockroach or a cricket.
I’m sure I let out one of those emasculating, school-girlie screams as I jumped backwards onto the bed.
And now I didn’t know where the hell it was!
I starting shaking off my clothes like a crazy man & looking all around for that devil! But it was nowhere to be found.
I ninja’d around the room, tourist book at the ready, searching for the intruder. And what if he brought some of his friends along with him?
I returned to the safety (?) of the bed, debating on whether I should call the front desk for help (Nah, that would be way too wimpy) or to change my room.
As I turned to grab the phone, I saw the little sucker in the corner!
Now that I knew this li’l San Antonio jumping bean could take flight, I was better prepared…emotionally & strategically.
I grabbed one of my shoes instead as it would be a much more maneuverable weapon in these tight quarters.
And I struck with a vengeance!!!
But because of the carpeting, he was able to absorb the blow without being smashed to smithereens.
I struck again!
He had put up quite a fight there, but I eventually prevailed.
All the people in the village cheered for the conquering hero.
My chest swelled with pride.
But the reality of “Well, if this guy got in, perhaps the perimeter defense was penetrable?” got to me so I went on a stealth mission to check the door, windows & vents.
I did place a towel across the bottom of the room door, even though it seemed quite secure. I wasn’t really sure what tools or earth-moving equipment these invaders had with them, especially since I was in a strange land.
I eventually went to sleep that night & came to realize that trying to successfully keep one eye open only really works in the movies.
It was a miracle that I escaped alive!
That incident actually brought back memories of when Laurie & I went on a trip to Barbados several years earlier with Citibank.
I was one of 50 employees selected as grand prize winners for SPRB/Society of Professional Relationship Bankers.
It was actually the same trip where I met Dan Owczar & Larry Holstein (with whom I would later work in Retirement Plan Services at the USCC & become great friends). Fred Doe (USCC CitiBusiness Ops) was also on the trip as we both worked at the 100 Baylis Road location in Melville, Long Island (I was in CitiPhone & Fred, in Branch Operations).
Everyone spent a great long weekend (flew in Friday, returned home Monday) with their guest at the beautiful Royal Radisson Aquatica resort.
Everything was absolutely top-notch & first-class. And about 8 of us couples were invited by our Managing Director, Joe Redington (Joseph J. Redington III) to a fabulous 7-course dinner at a nearby castle!
We had a BBQ out on the private beach, complete with refreshments, music & dancing. There was the Saturday afternoon Jolly Roger cruise that was incredible fun. The pirates even made Laurie walk the plank!
(It was about time that she got her…
Well, it so happened that when we left for the Jolly Roger Cruise, we inadvertently left the sliding doors to our room (that led out to the pool area) slightly ajar.
Upon returning late that afternoon, we made a horrible discovery as Laurie opened one of the drawers in the dresser.
There was this ginormous bug that had taken up residence in there!
And this thing was a creature, a good 2 1/2”-3” monster!
And then we discovered several others in our room!
And while I detest all kinds of bugs (and anything slimy), Laurie completely freaked out! She went bonkers.
I immediately went to the front desk to request that we change rooms. There was no way possible that she would ever sleep in that room, even if an army of Raid-carrying Orkin soldiers drove away every living thing within a 10 mile radius!
Then I heard the worst possible news…”I’m so sorry, sir, but we are completely sold out for the entire weekend!”
I even spoke with the resort manager as I “knew” that they always had that special room available for a surprise guest or visiting dignitary.
He assured me that they didn’t.
He offered to have the room completely cleaned & turned upside down in order to assure us that there were no unwanted guests in there, but none of that would satisfy Laurie.
Having to go to another hotel, especially since this one was all off by itself, would really suck.
But then I thought…
Didn’t our Citi group have a pair of adjoining rooms that served as a hospitality suite for everyone? What if there was a bedroom, or even a couch, available for us to crash for the night?
As it turned out, one of the rooms did, indeed, have its own separate bedroom.
So we were able to stay there for the last 2 nights, although we did have to get up extra early as they set up the suite for the complimentary breakfast.
Thank God! Our wonderful vacation was saved, everyone was happy & we made sure that all windows & doors were tightly secured for the remainder of the trip!
As always, thank you so much for listening!