First Person Singular: Pest Control Expert Brian McQuaid
If my father wasn't a pest control guy, I don't think I really would have been one. I went to college and got a degree in marketing and ended up working in an office. But I was falling asleep at my desk every day, so I started looking for other jobs. My father kept saying, "Come be with the company." At that stage of life I was very resistant to the idea. But the bills were mounting, the wedding money had run out; it was time to just pick something. I remember the morning I started: I had on the stupid uniform, and I wept into my Cap'n Crunch. But it turned out I loved doing it. Every house was a new person and a new situation. There were so many variables -- hundreds of things it could be on any given day, all manner of structural infestation. I found that I liked figuring it out. I can't stand to not know the answer. For a period of time, termites were the main thing we would do. Then, after the cicadas, rodents were huge. But the last three or four years, bed bugs are definitely at the top of the list. For an entire generation, they'd not been on the pest control map, to the point where I had been a licensed pest professional for years and didn't even know they were a real bug. Then they started showing up.
The biggest casualty is people's emotional well-being -- even after you get rid of them. People will psychosomatically generate the appearance of itchy welts. And once they get on the Internet, it's all over. One woman had a small case. We got rid of them, but she kept calling us back. She stopped sleeping; she threw out all of her stuff. Finally, I took her hand and said: "Accept that they're gone. What you're having is anxiety." But that one didn't work out. We ended up doing a follow-up call to see how she was doing, and she was gone; she'd sold the place.
My wife used to think stuff was in her hair all the time. She made me disrobe outside the door once or twice. Now she's involved in the work, too, and both of us have the same mentality: The moment you start worrying you're going to catch something, that's when you're going to get it.
-- Interview KK Ottesen