As a child, I liked playing with bugs in the backyard. I had no idea I would be doing the same thing when I grew up.
It’s been an interesting 35 years. I’ve seen everything from cockroach-infested crawl spaces to yellow jackets at the top of the World Trade Center, and now I’m the face of Catseye Pest Control, representing the company in television commercials and in local news segments about pest problems. Alongside Caddie, of course.
This new phase of my career has given me the opportunity to provide our clients and the communities we serve with accurate and reliable information on pest issues. When I reflect on what that means, it’s very humbling. What I say has an impact on how the public views me, my company and the pest management industry, and that can be sobering.
Last week I was asked to appear on our local ABC and Fox affiliate to discuss the current outbreak of the Powassan virus. This virus is passed to humans by the blacklegged tick. I was able to put the matter into perspective by sharing tips for how people can stay safe this summer and enjoy their yards as well as the great outdoors. Sometimes these situations can be difficult to address because we don’t want to create any sort of panic.
My greatest challenge as the spokesperson is trying to accurately portray the role of a pest management professional. Often, a pest management professional is viewed as just “the bug man” (that being one of the nicer things we are called). If I were to say “first responder,” what comes to your mind? No doubt you would say courageous and self-sacrificing, and you would not be alone. These are individuals that run into dangerous situations while the rest of us are running in the opposite direction.
I think, in some ways, we can compare a pest management professional to a first responder.
Bubonic plague, hanta virus, murine typhus (comparatively mild, acute, endemic form of typhus and characterized by fever, headache, and muscular pain), typhoid fever, cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, tuberculosis, salmonella as well as parasitic worms and now the Powassan virus, what do all these diseases have in common? These diseases can all be transmitted to humans by an insect, a rodent or both. Since early in my career, I have seen pest management professionals as people who stand on the front lines to help protect the public’s heath.
Like first responders, pest management professionals face situations that the rest of us run away from. It takes a special kind of person to be willing to go into a room crawling with bed bugs or treat a wall void filled with bees, and do something about it. I’m glad I get to represent a profession that is made up of these brave people.