It's raining sandwiches...
May 6, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Found a sandwich inside my locked garage. The car was undamaged. What now?

The background: My car is my most valuable possession, and I'm completely dependent on it, especially on weekends. I rent a one car garage a couple of blocks from my apartment. The owner of the garage is not my landlord, and also rents out a rowhouse around the corner from the garage. The garage is detached from the rowhouse, adjacent to an alley, on a main street, and is pretty much a nice wooden box to keep my car in.

The event: This morning, when getting my car from the garage, I noticed slices of baloney and bread on the floor of the garage, a few feet from the door. It was enough sandwich for a nice 6 inch sub. The door of the garage was locked and my car was not damaged. There's a gap between the garage door and the sidewalk, where the sidewalk kind of dips, and I guessed that someone had thrown half of a sandwich in between this gap. All the sandwich pieces were lined up in a row inside the garage, from 2 to 3 feet from the door. In the alley next to the garage was a styrofoam box, some spilled lettuce, tomato, and onion.

I don't know who would have done this - it really seems like someone took the time to throw the sandwich inside the garage, and it wasn't just dropped outside on the sidewalk accidentally. There are garbage cans along the entire alley, so it's not like there was nowhere else to throw away a dropped sandwich. Presumably, whoever did it also doesn't have a key to the garage, or else my car would have been damaged or at least baloney-ed. Right now, I'm thinking it's either some random kids in the neighborhood doing random things, or I've inadvertently pissed off some passive-aggressive person.

One of the reasons this bugs me is that the garage is right next to an alley where people keep their trash for pickup. There are some pretty large rodents in Baltimore hanging out in the alleys, and I've heard stories about people finding litters of rats inside their car engines.

Neither the landlord nor the property manager have been very responsive in the past, and they both live farther from the garage than I do. I want to put something to cover the gap between the garage door and the sidewalk - is there some sort of netting or something I could put in that will go to the sidewalk? Where would I get it and how would I install it? Should I go talk to the people in the rowhouse who rent from the landlord? I don't know them, but maybe they can give me some idea about what happened? Or maybe I've accidentally done something to piss off these very people and they're the ones who threw the sandwich? What's my next step?
posted by be11e to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A rat probably dragged the baloney into the garage!
posted by yarly at 9:09 AM on May 6, 2012 [15 favorites]

I'm thinking raccoon or something, not a person. Regardless, I'm wondering if you can get enough netting that protects gardens and plants from animals and put over the gap. You would want it to be loose enough for them to get tangled of they try to go under it, although then you would be dealing with trapped critters maybe.

I have no experience with this in the city (just out in the country) so hopefully someone else has better advice.
posted by MultiFaceted at 9:13 AM on May 6, 2012

You are far from the first person in the world to find that someone else has thrown trash on your property. Clean it up and don't worry about it so much, it will probably never happen again.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:17 AM on May 6, 2012 [10 favorites]

"is there some sort of netting or something I could put in that will go to the sidewalk?"

The home improvement borgs will have gaskets/weatherstripping specifically designed for sealing this gap. If the gap is wider than the weatherstripping you can fasten a strip of wood to the bottom of the door to make up the difference before attaching the gasket.
posted by Mitheral at 9:19 AM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also live in Baltimore. It's remarkable to me, living as we both do in an extremely dirty, litter-filled city, that this is your first experience with random food tossed on/near something you value.

And you aren't being paranoid worrying about rats in your engine. My Charles Village friends report numerous rat-on-engine-block stories.

I recommend the following:

1) Yes, add something to the gap under the door.

2) Buy a rat trap for just inside your garage door. The kind you see next to commercial buildings. No idea if they work, but at least it might make you feel better.

3) Forget talking to anyone about "the event." It's a non-event, especially here in a city where littering is so ubiquitous. Even if someone is indeed pissed at you, what possible negative effect could half a sandwich's presence have? It's way WAY more likely some kid thought found it mildly amusing to think of random unknown stranger finding half a sandwich in his garage the next day. Much as I saw an empty 7-11 pizza slice box neatly tucked under the windshield wiper of a random car parked on Falls Rd.

Just chalk it up to city living. And if rats are a big problem where you live, call 311 and take advantage of the city's Rat Rubout program.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 9:29 AM on May 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

[Helpful answers please folks?]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:41 AM on May 6, 2012

a rat would have eaten the sandwich, not tossed it. and a rat could probably get in your garage to recover it as well. so i would discount a rat.

however when i was a kid my mom used to always make me lunch for school. i wasn't always very happy about eating it so i'd get rid of it on the way to school. after once such episode when mom found the discards i made it to hide my lunch where she wouldn't see it.

like your garage.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 9:42 AM on May 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've heard of people successfully using wads of steel wool in little holes as a mouse deterrent Perhaps a larger wad stuck to the bottom of the garage door would work for rats and/or other pests? But the block of wood/weatherstripping idea is better, as that will also prevent the elements from getting in (snow, rain).

As for how in the world this happened, if it wasn't a rat: when I was a bad little girl in the city, I would kick random things on my way to school. Rather than someone bending down to throw the sandwich under your door, I'll bet it was first dropped, and then in a fit of anger, kicked, and it just happened to slide under your door.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:51 AM on May 6, 2012

If there is never food in your garage, and always food in the alley, what possible reason would the rats have for leaving their dens in the alley and setting one up in your car? If this mysterious sandwich tosser continues to dump food in your garage, then you might think about working with the landlord to better seal the door, but for now just treat it as an isolated incident.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:54 AM on May 6, 2012

Agreed with the above posters that this isn't worth bringing up with anyone, as it's probably an isolated incident.

That said, if you want to get something to help seal the bottom of the garage door... Ours has a gasket type thing on the bottom that is very forgiving of height differences in the concrete, and you might want to look for something similar. It's basically a loop of rubber, a couple inches in diameter, that attaches along the length of the bottom of the garage door. So on the side where the pavement is a little higher, the loop squishes more and is wider along the ground, and on the side where the pavement is lower, the loop barely squishes at all and just touches the ground. I thought it was a pretty clever solution to the annoying problem of uneven concrete at the garage door floor.
posted by vytae at 12:15 PM on May 6, 2012

For the rat issue - when we had a mouse problem I picked up a battery-operated device that shocked them to death. Nothing I have ever used has worked as well and as cleanly as this thing. They make a rat-sized one as well. I highly recommend it.
posted by phearlez at 12:41 PM on May 6, 2012

I've been "gifted" food like an essentially whole chocolatey bar with only a couple of squirrel nibbles in it.

Sometimes animals will stash food in odd-to-humans places for later consumption.
posted by porpoise at 12:43 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could get a gallon of home pest control pesticide at a hardware store, and spray it around. A gallon will give several applications in your garage sized area.
posted by caclwmr4 at 12:58 PM on May 6, 2012

This sounds like a critter to me also. Maybe a have-a-heart type trap would prove who your culprit is (I'd guess raccoon)?
posted by epanalepsis at 9:32 AM on May 7, 2012

If it's a critter you could get a flexible mesh (or just a rope if the gap is small enough) and stretch it across the bottom of the door so that it occludes the opening. You can simply drive over it if it's only a few inches high. It wouldn't keep out a determined critter who thinks there's food inside but 90% of the battle is just being less easy a place to go than other alternatives.
posted by phearlez at 12:42 PM on May 8, 2012

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