My old flat in Wellington had three bedrooms, one of which had an unused fireplace. One night, about 2 in the morning, I was woken by my flat mate screaming and the sound of slamming doors.
My other flat mate and I raced out of our rooms to see her, a trembling mess, cowering in the hallway in her pyjamas.
“A possum just fell down my chimney!”
Half awake and trying to figure out how to get a terrified and feral possum out of her room I suggested that as her room had two doors, they could open the other one and I could try shooing it out from one end of the room to the other.
This was vetoed on the grounds that the possum might attack.
…I know. But now that I’ve shrieked and jumped and run out of the room when a mouse ran out of my cupboard I have more sympathy. Anyway…
We had a quandary. Who do you contact in the middle of the night to rid you of a possum problem? We looked in the yellow pages (this was well before smart phones and we had no access to YouTube tutorials on pest removal) but none of the pest removal companies were 24/7
It was nearing 3am at this point. We didn’t want to call the fire service, no matter what they say about fire fighters getting cats out of trees, because this was at the time of the Wellington Arsonist and we didn’t like to burden them with possum trouble.
Suddenly I had a genius idea. “The police will be awake!”
I know. It was 3am. I wasn’t thinking clearly. You will be happy to know we didn’t ring 111. We rang the local police station.
Police phone operator: how can I help?
Me *extremely embarrassed’: hello, okay, I’m sorry to bother you but a possum fell down my flat mate’s chimney and we don’t know how to get it out and we were hoping you could tell us who to call…
Police phone operator: *uncontrollable laughing* just wait and I’ll see if I can find you a number
There was more laughter in the background and then she came back on the line
‘Some of the guys are here so I’m sending round a patrol car’
Me *dying from embarrassment and barely able to speak above a whisper*: omg. Thank you.
Now, it might have been 3am but all three of us made sure our hair was brushed and our jammies buttoned properly before we opened the door to a very handsome young policeman.
He went into the room and walked around for ages, we could hear furniture shuffling and some rustling. He came back out. Without possum.
‘There’s no possum’
We stared at my flat mate who swore hand on heart it had been there.
The policeman laughed. ‘Yep, it was definitely there, you can see its sooty footprints everywhere. It must have gone back up the chimney’
He was right. On the floor, her white bedspread, and by the door were tiny little black footprints.
The policeman left with a smile, waving off our apologies. We went back to bed. We never saw the possum again.