A Shift from Diplomacy to Pest Control For the past 18 years, Andy Linares has been running his family business, Bug Off Pest Control. Recently, he came to the StoryCorps booth in New York's Grand Central Terminal to talk about his work as an exterminator.


On Fridays, we listen to your stories. It's time again for StoryCorps, the project that's capturing an oral history of America. Friends and relatives interview each other in recording booths across the country, and their conversations are shared with the Library of Congress and MORNING EDITION.

For the past 18 years, Andy Linares has been running his family business. It's called Bug Off Pest Control. Recently, he went to StoryCorps in New York's Grand Central Terminal to talk about his work as an exterminator.

Mr. ANDY LINARES: We need to identify the insect. That's the first thing you have to do. You have to identify the pest. Believe it or not, this is very scientific type of work. One of the big issues of the day is bedbugs. I had a gentleman came in yesterday, thought he had bedbugs. He shows me a sample, I look at it; it's a ladybug. It's just an Asian beetle. Big deal. And the guy almost cried. He said, `Oh, thank God. I thought I had bedbugs.' I do this every day.

I don't respect an insect, but if you look deep enough, there's always something fascinating about even the most unpleasant creatures. I mean, roaches? Let's face it, roaches are spectacular. They've been around for billions of years. There's something to be said about an insect like that.

In this field, you don't expect a person with an advanced degree, who speaks three languages, who is a classically trained musician, because it doesn't make sense. `What the hell are you doing killing bugs?' That's the question. How do you get involved in this? My uncle had a pest control company. When I hit the brick wall and couldn't find employment, my uncle just happened to be ready to retire. Because it wasn't what I had trained for, it wasn't what I expected, I went in with a great deal of resentment. And for a time, I was turning off customers 'cause I would answer the phone that way. You know, `Just Bug off!' So I had to follow that up: `Bug Off Pest Control Center, can I help you?' you know, so I wouldn't lose that much clientele. Then I changed the mind-set and I said, `Wait. If I make somebody feel better and be more, you know, at ease, that's golden.

MONTAGNE: And that's pest control professional Andy Linaurus. He was recorded at a StoryCorps booth in New York. To find out how you can participate and to listen to more StoryCorps interviews, go to npr.org.

MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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