My college dorm didn't allow pets, so of course I wanted a pet rat because they were small, quiet, smart, and easy to hide should the resident advisor come around.
The pet store employee told me they had a new litter of baby rats and to go in the back of the store and pick out the ones I wanted. Alone. Unsupervised. Pet Store rule #1: don't leave customers unsupervised in the back of the store.
The baby rats were sooooo cute. There were about ten to twelve of them in a large aquarium with their mama. Since the employee had told me to pick out a pet, I naturally assumed the mother rat was friendly.
I reached into that habitat and the mama bit the stink out of my ring finger. I mean, she latched right on and was ready to rumble. The pain was bright like the sun going supernova and I reacted out of instinct and shook the poor rat off my hand like a terrier. I hated to do that to an animal, but dang, her giant rodent teeth were sunk into my finger.
I held up my wounded hand to see how bad the bite was and blood welled up from my knuckle and dripped onto the floor. The sight of the blood woozed me out and next thing I knew I was falling backwards, my left arm whacking several wire cages on the way down and I fell full out, smacking the back of my head on the hard concrete floor.
I came to with the pet store employee leaning over me. "Are you all right? What happened?"
"The rat bit me." My watch had been sliced right off my wrist during the fall.
Now, here was the amazing part. No first aid was administered, no accident report filled out, no discount offered, and me being young and naïve had no idea that I could scare the bejeezus out of the store manager by threatening a law suit over wrongful injury and misadventure in their store. Like a good little Southern girl I paid for my rats and left with a BITE wound and a big BUMP on my skull.
And then my finger swelled up. Like a sausage. Which wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't been wearing my class ring. My finger was so big the ring was cutting into my flesh. Off to the ER I went.
These days doctors have to report animal bites of any kind to law enforcement. But this was back in the mid-80s. The ER doc looked at my giant finger. "We're going to have to cut your ring off."
"Just get it OFF! I don't care how you do it." I wouldn't normally talk that way to a doctor, but I was feeling desperate and quite anxious.
He cut the ring off. I still have it. Never got it fixed. It reminds me of what a naïve dumbass I was. And you should have seen the look on everone's face when they read my paperwork.
Reason for Visit: Bitten by rat in pet store.
They probably thought the place was infested by rats or something. It's amazing they didn't call fhe HEALTH DEPARMENT.
I was given antibiotics and sent home with my giant finger, ruined ring and a major life lesson. That knuckle was stiff and swollen for quite some time. It's amazing I didn't get sepsis in the joint. My dad was bitten (accidentally) by one of his dogs once and his hand swelled up and he had to go to the ER for sepsis (a serious bacterial infection).
The name of this post is "This Could Only Happen to Me," but now that I think about it, this could have happened to my sister. A basset hound bit her face when she was three, and when she was seven she got a nail stuck in her foot AND fell on some bleachers and cut her shin open to the BONE. She also fell off a ladder onto the high heel of a SHOE when she was working in a shoe store. So, this seems to be a genetic propensity--weird-ass accidents.
Oh, and then there's my brother who got a stick rammed down his throat and his leg sliced open by barnacles and who coughed so hard one time that he ruptured a lung. And my dad whose arm swelled up from wasp stings.
Lordy, it's amazing we've survived to pass on our genes.