Rat Saga III

The Honda rat is in the news again. The jumbo inflate-a-rodent was installed at a Berkeley street corner as a mascot by union mechanics thrown out of their jobs by the new owner of the local Honda dealership. Then, as recounted by Richard Brenneman, the Jack London of the Berkeley police beat — happy 130th birthday, by the way, Jack — the usually buoyant rat was slashed and deflated by an unknown assailant.

One of San Francisco TV stations, ABC 7, has gotten wind of the rat saga and did a news report on it earlier this week. In the station’s semi-intelligible Web version of the story, the dealership’s general manager complains that the rat stretches the legal tolerance for free speech a little too far: “They’re able to take what probably should be a temporary use permit and turned it into a perpetual opportunity,” he says.

Sure, it’s a nuisance when people you’ve fired don’t have the manners to thank you and leave without a fuss. But look on the rat’s good side: It keeps regular hours — 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., apparently. It’s not known to gnaw or scrabble where it’s not wanted. It’s totally plague-free and hypoallergenic. It’s seasonally festive if not abundantly tasteful. It presents no choking hazard to kids and won’t crawl up your leg. I’m sure the Honda guy will get to love it.

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