Girl vs. Cockroach

Moving to Israel requires a lot of adjustments for an American girl – a different currency, a whole new language, learning to be aggressive, an incredibly hot and humid climate, and — worst of all — the giant flying cockroaches.

I don’t mean the itty bitty cockroaches we have in America. I mean big old suckers the size of my index finger that fly across the room faster than a bat out of hell when you try to squash them.

Useless (shoe image via Shutterstock)

Now let me be clear, I am terrified of bugs. Beetles, cockroaches, spiders; you name it, all of them make me squirm. So when I came to Israel and discovered the mighty beast cockroach, every single hair on my body stood on end, as if the temperature had dropped to zero degrees, while the rest of my body broke out in a nervous clammy sweat – and that was just from seeing one in the street.

So imagine, then, my horror when last night, after my evening in Jaffa, I came home to find an unwelcome visitor scurrying across my desk. My initial reaction was naturally to scream bloody murder, slam the door shut, and scare the living daylights out of my roommate (who is also terrified of the little monsters). And thus, what should have been a five-minute ordeal involving a large heavy object and perhaps a rather unpleasant mess, turned into a traumatic three-hour war of wits.

After my initial screaming fit, I examined my options: (a) Squash it, possibly throw up from the disgusting noise, and be forced to wipe up dead roach juice from my desk; or (b) try to coax the roach outside. Being the coward that I am, I opted for the second.

I grabbed my broom and opened my door, fully prepared to knock the cockamouse (for all you How I Met Your Mother fans) out of my room.

Well, needless to say, the attempt to gently sweep a giant flying roach off my desk and out my front door was unsuccessful. After knocking it off, it flew across my room under my bed. I spent the next hour trying to sweep it out from under the bed frame. Finally, it crawled across my floor under my dresser.

Since I didn’t have any bug spray and I didn’t have any tape to trap it under my dresser, I had to come up with a new plan of attack: call a boy to do it for me. I then called nearly every male I know in Israel and some in the United States too, desperately asking for help. Unfortunately, it was already the middle of the night and no one who was close enough to help, was available. In fact, one of them reluctantly admitted to me that cockroaches occasionally bite humans while they sleep, which naturally resulted in me crying. Alas, I was left with no other option but to wait until it comes out and then aggressively smash it.

After a 45-minute stalemate during which I made a semi-hysterical international phone call to my mother (who was also unwilling to come to my immediate aid, for some reason), it dawned on me that AM PM sells bug spray. I raced across the street to purchase a bottle of K2000. I then drenched every inch of my room with the spray (much to the chagrin of my brain cells) and anxiously scanned my surroundings for the roach. When I’d finished, I looked up and there it was, above me, on my ceiling. I sprayed frantically at the ceiling until it flew onto my floor and scurried back and forth for the next 30 minutes while I emptied half of the K2000 bottle onto its nasty little shell.

Finally, after a long and tiresome battle with lots of creepy roach squiggling, it stopped moving. Relieved and elated, I grabbed the broom and swept it into a dustpan. Only when I turned around broom-in-hand, it was moving again! I spent another what-felt-like-eternity spraying directly onto the undying roach until it stopped moving for good. I grabbed my latex gloves to hold the dustpan I swept it into, and with a sense of pride and satisfaction, I marched down the stairs, dead roach in dustpan, having overcome my intense fear and slaughtered my nemesis.

But just like a slasher flick, it’s never really over.  I walked upstairs to air out my apartment from all the bug spray and then back outside for a short walk. But when I stepped back outside, the roach was not where I left it. Somehow, it had survived my brutal K2000 attacks and had run off to who knows where.

Will it return to torment me again? Only time will tell. But despite my traumatic experience, I think I learned an important life lesson: squash your cockroaches right away, no matter how gross that may be. The alternative is the stuff of horror movies.

Hopefully this is one aspect of Israel I won’t have to deal with again!

About the Author
Emily Schrader is a writer and political consultant originally from Los Angeles, California. She made aliyah in 2015 and works for a nonprofit organization in Jerusalem. Emily has a BA from the University of Southern California and MA from Tel Aviv University. She has previously written for many different publications including The Weekly Standard, The Jerusalem Post, and more.