Black widows included

This photo shows a vintage china cabinet with rose details, from Mexico.

Does it come apart? It does now.

Warning: the following contains scenes of destruction, waste, illegal dumping and potentially lethal eight-legged creatures. Viewer discretion is advised.

M and I are minor hoarders (you should see our respective shoe collections) and one day we decide we need a shelf-cum-cupboard to house our increasing collection of footwear, and books.

Naturally, the first place we look is the Free page on Craigslist, and after a week or two of searching we hit pay dirt: a solid wood vintage china cabinet is up for grabs in Richmond. It looks big, huge in fact. Perfect to store our stuff. So we make arrangements with the owner to pick it up, then find a guy on Craigslist with a pick-up truck who’ll help load the thing, run it to Vancouver and even help carry it up the two flights of stairs to our apartment  for a mere $35.

M and I arrive before the truck guy, and get talking to the owners, a couple originally from Mexico. “We are so happy someone’s taking it,” the woman says, and then the man tells us how his parents drove it up to Vancouver from Mexico City in 1968, and how it’s been in the family a while etc. etc. etc.

The truck guy comes, and he and M load the cabinet up. No mean feat, as it is big. Huge in fact. Anyway, the truck guy drives ’er to our place in Vancouver. He and M struggle to get the thing up the stairs, and barely – just barely – get it in the door. Then the guy leaves and M and I proceed to move it into our office. Or so we think. The doorway to the hall is too low. We can’t even turn the thing on its side and take it through that way because it’s so tall, the corner hits the ceiling when we tip it.

So we decide to remove the base, which was coming off anyway. We lay the thing down and M gets out the hammer. All of a sudden he shouts and jumps back, then bashes something. “That was a black widow!” he says. “Oh,” I say. “Don’t be upset. I have a lot of respect for spiders. Let’s hope it’s just the one.” Two seconds later I see a big one and shriek. BAM! with the hammer. Then another. BAM! Then we find two egg sacs. BAM! BAM! I grab a nasty chemical cleaner and douse the destroyed egg sacs and scrub at them till they’re gone.

M and I are shaken, but determined to make this work.

M gets the base off and we carry the cabinet into the hall, but it will not go through the door into the office – it’s too wide. So he decides to try and remove the top part from the bottom part. As he does this, more black widows come crawling out. BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM! At this point I get on the interwebs and google “how to get rid of black widows.” The news is not good. People are saying that you need to engage the services of a pest management professional, because black widows apparently have these pads on their feet that prevent them from absorbing anything you spray them with. Also, black widows, if they bite you, can cause pain, cramps and dizziness, and can kill small children and animals. And we were going to put our shoes in that thing? Yeah, right.

I yell to M, “Let’s get this thing out of here!” and he concurs. We drag it – I put on a pair of rubber gloves first – back into the kitchen and then rapid onto the porch. I tell M there’s no way I can help him carry it downstairs, and he says, “Well, there’s only one solution.”

“Not the chainsaw,” I say.

“No. The jigsaw.”

M gets his jigsaw and proceeds to saw this thing, this solid wood vintage china cabinet hauled up from Mexico City in 1968, into two pieces. It makes a hell of a racket and I worry the neighbours will freak out. They don’t. Then we carry each piece down the stairs as quietly as we can and put them by the dumpster. We sneak back upstairs, hoping no one saw us dumping this thing. Because that’s what we officially are now: illegal dumpers. Great.

Over the next few days people took pieces – someone took a door, the decorative roses were pried off and spirited away, the decorative piece at the top disappeared. But the bulk of it remains, a shameful reminder.

Two things I learned from this experience: 1) always check the dimensions of a piece of furniture against the dimensions of your doorways and hallways before you pick it up (duh) and 2) always ask the seller if it’s been stored in his garage. If the answer is yes, hang up immediately.

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