What happens when a mouse roars? Can it change the lives
of a few, perhaps the lives of thousands. In this case,
the mouse squeaked, but the squeak turned into a Roar of Vigilance.
Find out about the Vigilant Mouse.
5, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 661
The Roaring Mouse of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--July 5,
2003-- It's hard to imagine a rodent being responsible for
saving lives, especially a New York City mouse that may be disguised
as a mini-rat.
But in this bizarre case, the mouse is credited with saving
lives from the attack of the Beast of Terror on September 11, 2001.
I was sitting at Starbucks
the other day on a hot summer afternoon in the East Village and
overheard the story being told at the table next to me.
It was a girl-packed table, clustered by young women in
their late twenties to early thirties. I paid little
attention until one started to tell the story about why she didn't try
to capture or kill the mouse that haunts her apartment.
I was keen on the "mouse story" because my younger
daughter who is a federal agent and carries two 9mm Glocks around New
York City in her night-and-day job of fighting crime so we all might
sleep better, has a deadly aversion to mice and rats.
If she sees one scuttling around or near a garbage can, her resolve
for Courage and Bravery turns to Jell-O, and she "eeeks" as the
cartoon characters climbing on a chair as a cheese-hungry rodent
scurries about wondering why the people are so upset. This
otherwise Amazon is famous for leaping onto her mother's shoulders (or
trying to) when a rat crossed her path one evening as they were
heading toward her apartment.
outside daughter's apartment building
In fairness, she is
fearless in almost every other situation, facing daily those who would
kill her in a second, and even though they might be called "human
rats" they do not have long tails and tiny red beady eyes, although
many of the criminals she hunts down hang out around garbage cans and
scuttle about the world of crime not unlike their rodent counterparts.
The girls talking at the table next to me were of
the "eeek ilk," the kind of "rat screamers" whose shrill Voices carve
through the night and make you reach for your gun, a knife or the
phone to call 911.
At least, that was my take of them.
The lead story teller was animated,
gesticulating the tale with a mixture of excited joy and reserved
revulsion. She was trying to explain to her friends
why, no matter what the mouse/rat did in and about her apartment, she
had granted it a pardon. She would not lay down a single
trap, or let the building exterminator in to seek and destroy the
varmint, though she had a great fear of mice and rats.
I leaned back in my chair to pretend I was
relaxing from my toils over my laptop and cocked my ear.
It has been over 20 months since the attack and, like the tide
that ebbs, the Nine Eleven stories have waned for the most part.
But this caught my attention because of its
unique nature. It was about the Mouse of Vigilance.
I'll do my best to recap the story as I
It seems on September 10 this girl and a
friend visiting her from out of town had made detailed plans for a day
of sightseeing in New York City.
Yorkers love to show off their city
come and stay with you, for the most part your life is changed from
whatever you normally do to becoming a tour guide. New Yorkers
love to show off their city, and apparently a full-day of seeing "this
and that" was on their agenda.
Kicking off the tour was an early morning
visit to the top of the World Trade Center. The girl
related how she and her friend planned to go downtown early, grab a
coffee and muffin, and be the first up to the top of the Twin Towers
to get an overview of the city before making the trek to all the other
As they were finalizing their plans they
saw a flash of grey fur streaking across the room. It was
a rodent frenzy of streaks.
The teller of the tale brought to mind my
daughter's aversion to mice and rats. Even as she related
how she spied the mouse her face twisted about not unlike someone who
had taken a bite of a sour-sour apple.
"We screamed," she said. "We picked
up our shoes and threw them at the mouse. I felt creepy
all over, thinking a mouse was in my apartment." The other
girls at the table nodded and clucked, obvious supporters of
She went on to explain how the darting
mouse upset her and her friend so much that they were unable to sleep
that night. They laid awake in shifts, armed with shoes,
prepared to beat the mouse to death ranging from the tips of stilettos
to flats. A bloody shoe was insignificant compared
to a live mouse ruling one's domicile, castle or small apartment
overcoming the inhabitant's) with Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency--the Triads of Terrorism
The girl's Complacency was based on
her lack of skill at mouse catching. She related she had
no idea how to capture or kill a mouse or mice, and her friend wasn't
much more skilled at it than she.
Groggy the next morning from lack of sleep,
the bleary eyed two-some elected to stave off their major adventure to
visit the Twin Towers in the morning, and instead, chose to hit the
hardware stores the minute they opened and lay traps throughout the
apartment so thickly that the mouse could never survive.
Terrorism: Fear, Intimidation and Complacency
She shared how
her visiting friend willingly contributed to the "kill-the-mouse"
fund, and, because she was going to be staying at the apartment for
another week, was as eager or more so, to wipe the Intruder Mouse from
the face of the earth.
As the two girls were getting ready
to go to the department store, the television blasted out the bulletin
that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers.
As with millions of people that hot second Tuesday of September, the
world's agenda was erased from their minds, and all that was of any
importance was "what is happening?"
Soon, it was clear: a Terrorist
attack was underway. Initial reports of victims at the World
Trade Center were exaggerated over the final numbers because little
information was available as to whom and how many had been killed.
Television news reporters spoke of upwards of ten to twenty-thousand
of the approximate thirty-five thousand workers in initial
The hardware store and the mouse
quickly lost top priority. Surviving became primary.
The girl went on to say how
over the ensuing months the presence of a mouse in her apartment
wasn't a big issue. The big issue was: "Where are the
But as time passed and life got back
to normal, the mundane regained its hold on her, as well as upon the
8.7 million New Yorkers and nearly 300 million Americans living in the
The mouse was still around.
About to call
the super to have the exterminator execute the mouse and any of the
mouse's children, or her Children's Children's Children, the girl told
how she balked.
I continued to enter the 'mouse
notes' in my computer and chuckled to myself as I hear that the mouse
has now taken up roosting (or nesting?) in her closet. He or she has
literally "moved in" with her.
Vigilance is about facing Fear with
Courage, overcoming one's Intimidation by mustering at least One
Percent more Conviction, and, taking Right Actions that benefit future
generations rather than wallow in the quagmire of Complacency.
For someone who had an ingrained fear
of rodents, to allow a mouse/rat to live a few feet away in your
bedroom closet--the home she said the mouse had chosen--was indeed a
glorious act of reprieve and repayment.
She was telling the other gals how
many times she wanted to pick up the phone and call the building
exterminator, and how, when she saw the furry blur of the mouse's body
scuttling here or there, or listened to the night to its tiny feet
scratching about, or noted the mouse/rat feces, her body would
convulse, the blood would drain, and she would gasp deep breaths to
control her Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
"I think about
getting rid of the mouse, but just can't do it"
"I owe that
mouse my life and my friend's life," she said. "How can I kill
the mouse? I can't. I think about it. I dream about
it. But I just can't get rid of it."
The table fell silent.
Then, there was a common
assent. I had an urge to throw in my affirmation that the
girl was doing the right thing by not killing the rat/mouse, but
checked myself. I wasn't supposed to be listening anyway.
I thought about the
heroism of the young woman.
Thousands upon thousands
were cast into a state of shock and psychological trauma over the
events of Nine Eleven. The ghosts of that day still
I'm that way when I hear
airplanes overhead flying low. I had been at Starbucks
that morning working on my computer and looked up when I heard the
screaming engines of the jet nearly scraping the top of the buildings.
I knew trouble was afoot, and rushed down to see what was happening.
My trigger for
boiling up the Triad of Terrorism in the screaming of engines
But, daily, 24/7, this girl
lives with not with the Terror of the event, but with the constant
reminder that her Terror of the mouse saved her life.
She has had to put her fear of
rodents to the side for over 661 days to date and replace it with
tolerance and thanksgiving for a creature most people wouldn't bat an
eye about capturing in a glue trap and then driving over it in their
car to ensure its death.
She has her own private
Sentinel of Vigilance, even if it takes the form of something scary.
In its own way, her story is
scuttling of feet remind the storyteller she is alive because of a
us, including me, is not reminded daily and nightly of the events of
Nine Eleven. She is. The scuttling of feet, any strange
sound at night, a glance from the corner of her eye picking up
movement, all summon the fact that she is alive because of a little
In her case, Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency worked to her benefit. Had she not been
so wired up against a rodent in her domicile, she might have shined
off the importance of a mousetrap over keeping her sightseeing plans.
If that had been the case, she might be a memory, a sad one, and the
mouse not the subject of the tale of why she and her friend are still
alive after that horrible morning in September.
Today, as I gather from her story,
she is a minute-by-minute Citizen of Vigilance. Her daily
charge is to protect the mouse. Against all
emotions, she manages to "live and let live," a difficult agenda with
a mouse living in your bedroom.
When one thinks of Bravery and
Courage, it is usually centered on a single act in which one rises
above the norm of Complacency to exhibit some selfless concern for
others--usually at their own risk.
In this case, the girl's
Vigilance after nearly two years to face off her Fears, Intimidations
and Complacency deserves the utmost kudos.
Her acts of Courage daily
include many, since there are 1440 minutes in each day, and the
presence of the mouse, or mice, she answered to one of the
girls' questions, is pervasive.
Plus, she believes she is a Mother of
Vigilance. When asked if the mouse has had children, she thinks
it has. Perhaps more than one batch
of Vigilance alive and well
This Mother of
Mouse Vigilance is paying a debt that will take her lifetime to
satisfy. When prompted about when, if ever, she felt she
could kill the mouse, her reply was "never. I couldn't do that.
I owe my life and my friend's life to that mouse."
Lots of us like to think we
were heroes of sorts during Nine Eleven. At least, part of me
likes to think I braved the holocaust and stuck my hand into the mouth
of the Beast of Terror. But such acts come and go
with the event of Terrorism.
Then there are those who
live with its negative or positive impact daily. I
have a close friend whose brother was killed that day and has suffered
deep psychological scars at the removal of his presence from this
earth. She cries almost daily at her and the rest of the
dissolve with the rays of the morning sun
Sometimes I'll awaken in the night and wash from my nightmares the
scenes of bodies jumping from the burning buildings, or the horrible
ball of fierce anger roiling toward us when the building collapsed and
I was sure we would all die. But those images weave in and out,
as clouds unblock the sunlight when they pass overhead.
This girl lives
with the symbol of her life. Her debt to life itself is
bundled in the body of a rodent, a creature whose nature she despises,
but has learned to tolerate.
Worse for her, she
explained, is that she does not know which mouse might be related to
the original mouse. Her concern is that for the rest of
her life she may never be able to kill a mouse, fearful it might
belong to her Twin Towers' Savior.
She has elected
It might have been
easy for her to give the mouse a reprieve of say a year, and then
consider the debt paid in full and call the exterminator. But
she sounded like she had the Spartan attitude--"The mouse and I until
Last night was
Independence Day. My wife and I joined our older
daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren to enjoy the fireworks.
July 4 hallmarks the Day of Freedom.
For a New York City
mouse, September 11, 2001 marks the Day of Freedom.
Mouse that Roared"
And for a girl who can't stand mice, that day marks the beginning of
the Day of Vigilance, a day she has stretched to over 660 in which she
has learned the power of Courage over Fear, of Conviction trumping
Intimidation, and how to take Right Actions when Complacency and an
exterminator would put her back to "normal."
She has a "Mouse
And I'll just call
him, "The Vigilant Mouse That Roared."
July 4--America's Spangled Flag of
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