So since I’m feeling sage, let’s have a chat about bedbugs, shall we? Because, I don’t know. I feel kind of like there was some not-completely-distressing news today about the those little bastards: The NYC Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development reported that it issued 4,846 bedbug-related violations and received 13,472 complaints in 2010. Mind you, that is precisely 4,846 violations and 13,472 complaints too many. But to hear the media going on about bedbugs last year, you’d think the city was perfectly crawling with the things and an infestation of your very own was an absolute inevitability. Yet 2010’s numbers are only a slight increase from the 4,811 violations issued and 12,594 complaints received in 2009. And in a city of nearly 8.5 million people, they’re a pretty minor drop in the bucket.
To put things in further perspective, in contrast to the many, many nights of sleep I lost last year worrying about bedbugs, I haven’t in my entire life lost so much as a wink of sleep worrying that I’ll be the victim of a violent crime. Yet I’m apparently 3.5 times more likely to be the victim of a felony assault in this city than I am to encounter a bedbug. (How’s that for an NYC Tourism PR campaign?)
Meanwhile, Timothy Wong, who to his professional credit (but likely personal detriment) has emerged as NYC’s face of bedbug eradication, tells us that shopping isn’t quite the hazard it had become:
In general, according to Timothy Wong, people are much more diligent about looking for bedbugs than they were a year ago. In the old days, retailers would only deal with bedbugs if a customer spotted one and complained. But now, people do weekly or bi-weekly inspections with dogs … “Consumers should be less nervous because retailers are becoming more sophisticated,” says Wong. “It got this bad because people were caught off guard, but as prevention gets standardized, it’ll get better. We could end up at a place where people are not much more likely to bring a bedbug to a store than they would be able to bring a cockroach into a store.”
I have no idea what I’m talking about, of course, but it feel like things are getting a little bit better, no? Or maybe they were never as bad as they were made out to be? That being said, it’s certainly not all sunshine and roses for those of us who suffer with bedbug anxiety. We’re not, by any means, out of the woods. Indeed, according to the Wall Street Journal, we’re surrounded by idiots:
Growing awareness of bedbugs, however, has not translated into changed behaviors … Some examples: Only 29% of respondents [to a National Pest Management Association survey] washed new clothing, and just 27% inspected and washed clothing after returning from a trip. One in four people checked their hotel rooms for bedbugs, and only 16% said they examined second-hand furniture.
To which I say: Are people out of their goddamned minds?? I cross the fucking street if I so much as see a mattress up ahead on the sidewalk, sitting out with the trash. I won’t be bringing second-hand furniture home anytime soon, but if I lost my mind and decided somehow that this might be a good idea, it sure as hell wouldn’t be without giving it one extremely thorough inspection first! My God!!!
We’ll close with some horrifying words of wisdom from our man Timothy Wong, in case you’re one of these insane people who has continued going on about your merry life as if we aren’t being terrorized by a poppy seed-sized scourge:
Bring a ziplock bag to put your purse in at the movies. Bedbugs don’t like people unless they’re asleep; they’re afraid of people. But they like climbing into bags.
I shall be applying this to the locker room at the gym. I don’t care if I look like a crazy person. I kind of am, at least as far as this issue is concerned.