Why I, A Rat, Won’t Tolerate One More Day on This Sinking Ship

When they brought in the hawks, I said nothing.

When they told me I’d be working alongside snakes, I was silent.

When they carted in large pallets of rodenticide, I thought they must have their reasons.

But now—now, here, today with less than two weeks to go until we finish our journey—I cannot and will not sit around on this sinking ship. My reputation as a good, decent, values-loving rat is too important to me.

When I got on this ship back in early 2016, many among my family and friends were like, “What? Why? Can’t you just make a nice career for yourself eating the pizza crusts at the West Fourth subway platform?”

I got it. This ship was unusual. Misdirected. Orange, for some reason.

But I don’t know, life just felt so calm back then. Too calm. I spent a little time spreading a minor disease in a mid-sized nation, which was alright, I guess. Then some buddies and I spent a nice summer infesting ourselves under the hood of a parked Chrysler Pacifica, and the wires were some of the best I’ve ever eaten. But honestly, my life felt so purposeless, I thought I might just donate my body to a cosmetics company for unethical testing.

Enter the large, crude, leaky old barge. The second I saw it pull up, dumping its waste onto every other boat and insisting it would never sail to Mexico, I knew I had to hop on. It felt familiar, like the moldy cheese I used to scrape off the underside of park toilets when I was a young buck.

Plus the competing ship was so boring and solid and guided by such a sensible map that would keep us out of choppy waters. I felt like I had to take a chance on the clumsy old barge that might very well get me killed.

And things were great. Huge. The best anyone’s ever seen.

Sure, there was the time the barge dropped a few gallons of oil in the clear waters off the coast of Puerto Rico, and just sailed away as if nothing had happened. That felt offensive to the people of Puerto Rico, but like—it was Puerto Rico and we were told not to care. Who was I to argue?

Yes, there was all those times we’d see a canoe or fishing boat in the water and just run right the heck over it, then laugh maniacally as the helpless victims begged for a lifesaver. It felt wrong, sure. But it also felt kind of right, y’know? I guess you could call it alt-right?

And okay, I do have to admit that I found some of the people who got on the boat a little, uhm, off. Everyone seemed a little paranoid. Angry. Plus they fucking hated rats. But I’ve always thought it’s important to reach out to others and get to know where they’re coming from. Sure, these really aggro conspiracy theorists were pushing ideas that would destroy me and other rodents I love, but I got it. Economic anxiety can be painful.

But then it happened. The final straw. The red line that finally made me, a rat, see that this ship was no longer for me.

It all started when someone brought on board a mirror. Just an ordinary mirror, but one I’d been avoiding for all these years. This person held up the mirror, and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a reflection. A reflection of me, my surroundings, and this shitty old barge that I’d for so long considered refreshing.

It was right then and there, in that very moment of reflection, I was like, “HOLY SHIT! THIS IS YOU! THIS IS EXACTLY WHO WE ARE!”

Well, I couldn’t sit idly by and see myself in the exact same way that literally millions of others had pitch-perfectly described the ship to which I had tied my tail. That’s not what good and decent people do. I have a legacy to uphold. Goals. Dreams. I might want to audition for a Ratatouille musical someday.

So I jumped. I jumped right off that ship, and was like, “So long, suckers. Thanks for the four years, and you’re welcome for my full and unfettered enabling—but you’re not gonna have this rat to kick around for thirteen more days!”

And here we are. I don’t like to use the word hero (though I’m sure I will, many times, when I write my memoirs). I’m just a simple rat who knows right for wrong when I see it. And then, someday, after years of consideration, I finally choose to listen to the searing fires of my burning conscience. It’s what any good, patriotic rat would do.