Summertime and the living is buggy. Like most Long Island homeowners, I want to ensure suburban bliss with bug-free living. So it was with wide-eyed wonder that I greeted the smiling exterminator who rang my bell.
“Hi,” he said, identifying himself and flashing a laminated company tag on the lanyard around his neck. He looked to be thirtyish, well-spoken, with a contagious smile that belied his scary message.
“We’ll be servicing your neighbors, Mike” — and he motioned with a far-down-the-block wave — “and Sarah,” waving in the other direction. (I’m not familiar with either one by name.) “Since we’ll have a team here tomorrow, we’re offering a discount.” He rattled off numbers beginning with $299 that spiraled in seconds to $89.
“You’ve probably been seeing the anthills around?” motioning toward my front walkway and lawn. “And have you seen the wasps that dig nests in the ground?” shaking his head up and down prompting me to do the same. Like a puppy.
“What we do is spray three feet out from your foundation and three feet up.” As he was talking, and without breaking eye contact, he opened his iPad cover and began swiping at the screen to show me creepy images. “It also kills other pests, like spiders—including black widows,” he said, pausing for effect.
Black widow spiders?
Scary Guy segued into soft talk to close the deal, correctly anticipating that I would be concerned about safety and the environmental impact on my vegetable garden, plants and our little patch of planet here on Long Island.
“The products are environmentally responsible, safe with children and pets,” he said. But I was already swooning: He had me at “kills”!
I’m pro-slaughter when it comes to unwanted invaders intruding on my alfresco moments. Any insect found in my house or on my deck is destined to be poisoned or pancaked. I’m a proud member of Team Splatter.
Unfortunately for Scary Guy, just as I was contemplating making an appointment, Billy, my fearless better half, pulled into our driveway, prompting me to ask for a business card instead.
A minute later, Billy came in through the side door.
“Who was that?” he asked.
“He’s selling an extensive exterminating service,” I said.
Billy rolled his eyes dismissively.
The next day, I mentioned Scary Guy in an email to a friend in Rockville Centre.
“SCAM!” she typed back. “They were in my neighborhood, too. They go around claiming your neighbors have signed up so you will!”
Hmm. Clever. Like a car salesman who knows the chance for a sale plummets when a potential buyer walks out the door to “think about it,” this new breed of pest-control sales force knows there’s no better buyer than a frightened woman staring at a virtual arachnid and contemplating a bargain bug annihilation.
It’s not really a scam, it’s sales pressure. I Googled “black widow spiders in New York.” Scary Guy was right!
Luckily, I kept his business card.
Reader Paula Ganzi Licata lives in Bellmore.