Gawker broke the story today that Penguin’s offices are infested with bed bugs (see: We Know Which Publisher’s Office Has Bedbugs).
Gawker’s readers have apparently not learned much about bed bugs — even after the same blog broke the Marie Claire bed bug infestation story last year.
Instead of “Bed bugs at work? It happens,” the Gawker commenters more often hit the same note as “Social Crimer,” who asks,
So you don’t need a bed to have bedbugs?
No, you certainly don’t!
The New York Observer picked up the Gawker story and ran with it, interviewing our friend Lou Sorkin (of the American Museum of Natural History) and Jennifer Erdogan of Bell Environmental (a New Jersey pest control firm) about the possibilities for the books present at the Penguin building being infested (it’s possible, but not a given, was the upshot of this discussion).
They also talked about possible and likely weekend procedures, since Penguin employees were told to vacate the building at 1 p.m. today and not return until Monday, as the Observer reported:
What exactly are the pest control people going to do when they take over 345 Hudson this weekend? We read our experts the staff memo, which asked everyone to leave their “office doors, files, and desks unlocked,” “leave in place any items that have not been recently used, rather than take them home,” and “make accessible the perimeter of your office/cubicle as much as possible.”
Sorkin and Erdogan speculated the weekend might include inspections using canine scent detection teams, and either targeted or extensive spray treatments.
Meanwhile, the New York Magazine Intelligencer also has a bed bug story today which does not reference the Penguin story. The Intelligencer apparently moves in much more bed bug-aware circles than the Gawker commenters:
On a scale of one to ten, how much anxiety do you feel when you contemplate bedbug exposure? (You know, when you stay in a hotel, buy anything from a stoop sale or flea market, sit on a friend’s couch, or walk past a Salvation Army store?) Most New Yorkers are constantly at 8 or 9, sizing up even their most well-groomed friends with paranoid suspicion.
And here I was thinking that was just those of us who had had an encounter with Mr. Cimex Lectularius.
Is it really true that most New Yorkers are in a high state of fear and paranoia about bed bugs?
My own friends don’t seem to be.
I even have friends who have had bed bugs and still aren’t.
I am not one to encourage people to fear and paranoia. Caution and a good dose of precautions is more my style.
For example, learning how to search a hotel room for bed bugs, avoiding stoop sales and trash picked items, having a good look at the theater seat in the light, and inspecting one’s purse carefully rather than plopping it down on the bed after visiting a friend.
I also try to strike a balance between educating others (“Can we just put our luggage in the bathtub while I quickly check the room for signs of bed bugs? It just takes five minutes…”) and being discreet enough to not sound like I’m completely paranoid; between being cautious, and enjoying life to the fullest.
So that makes me wonder — for those of you post-bed bugs, or who never had them — how worried are your friends about bed bugs? What are they doing, if anything, to avoid them?
And are they more worried about bed bugs, or are they more concerned about you being worried about bed bugs?