In search of ponies: Passengers ride at own peril

Sharna Johnson

Only the strong of heart ride with me nowadays.

Even still, those brave enough get the disclaimers:

• He could run up your leg, if so I’m sorry in advance

• Close your purse tight — not that I would mind if he hitched a ride home with you

• I can’t guarantee the security of any food items, he has a heck of an appetite

Today marks two weeks he’s been with me and honestly even I am surprised he’s survived that long in my car, especially with the heat wave we’ve been experiencing.

It all started when I took a load of trash to the landfill.

You see, when you live in the county you have a couple options for your trash: Burn it, pay for a service or take it to the dump yourself.

Well I’d rather not start the next big grass fire, so burning is out and why pay someone else when I can do it for a whopping $2 a load … granted when you don’t have a truck, it can be a slightly unpleasant ride but hey, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger … or so they say.

So far it’s worked out pretty good, granted it’s a pain.

But I was struck by a sense of “Oh nooo,” when I pulled the last bag from my vehicle two weeks ago and saw a fat little brown mouse launch from a hole he chewed during the drive.

And of course he jumped back into the car.

I looked for him but wasn’t surprised he didn’t turn up and anyway I figured he would find his way out soon enough or the heat would get to him first.

Boy was I wrong.

A couple of days later when I turned on my air conditioning I was greeted with a cloud of fluff and confetti and heard paper rattling in the vents — probably really important stuff knowing my luck — and knew he was building a home.

But there wasn’t anything in there for him to eat, so again I figured he would move on once he got hungry.

Except, of course, for the honey candies tucked beside the gear shift.

First one was missing in the morning on the way to work, then by lunchtime he had just dragged off the last two He-mouse style.

Three little honey candies weren’t going to get him far, I thought.

Until I left a bag of cat food on the back seat one night because I was in such a hurry to get to the end of the day.

The next morning when I pulled it out, it left a trail of delicious seafood and milk infused morsels behind, thanks to the hole he had thoughtfully chewed in the bottom of the bag.

A couple of days later it was the same story with a bag of dog food, only this time he worked faster, making a hole somewhere between the feed store and the house.

Turns out my car is pretty darn habitable after all, a cornucopia of sorts.

Night after night I have left the doors open in the garage so he can escape, but it turns out he doesn’t seem to mind it in there.

I have no idea how large a food supply he’s stocked up, but judging from the fact he hasn’t bailed yet, I’m guessing he’s pretty confident he can hold out a while.

Honestly if it weren’t for the fact my wiring is already hanging on by a thread and wouldn’t survive his curiosity, I might just leave well enough alone, but I’m going to have to make operation mouse extraction my goal for the weekend … with the help of some handy no-kill traps someone shared with me after my last mousecapade.

With any luck, I’ll get him out, but I have to admit it’s been kind of fun.

But even if I’m successful, I may allow him to continue to live there in spirit — I mean come on, gas is almost $4 a gallon these days and if it gets me out of giving people rides I’m not complaining.

And having a mouse in one’s car is a sure-fire way to find out who your friends are, even if they are clutching their purses and holding their feet off the floor all the way home.

Sharna Johnson is a staff writer for Freedom New Mexico. She can be reached at sjohnson@cnjonline.com