Published in The Ferndale Record, August 10, 2011
Not finding something where you thought it would be is frustrating. Even more disturbing is finding things that don’t belong in space designated for other purposes. I’m referring specifically to creatures that crawl into these places under their own power.
I’m not talking about people who have boa constrictors as pets, or keep monkey butlers. As unusual and potentially frightening as these particular situations are, I’m thinking about when animals appear in polite society where they terrorize humans.
I know, I know. Animal lovers and activists will say the creatures were here first and that they have the right of first refusal—or some legal or ethical reason for being where they aren’t wanted. I say animals should know better.
A couple of situations I’ve read about recently: A bear discovered in someone’s home quietly finishing up a box of chocolates, and a rattlesnake found coiled in the corner of a dentist’s office.
One would assume a bear or rattlesnake would inherently know it was in a foreign, even hostile environment and get out, ideally the way it came in. But no.
Another example is the old alligator in the toilet story. Every now and then this horrifying scenario really happens—usually in a Southern state, but sometimes much further north—and the media broadcasts it so we can all look twice before taking a seat in the bathroom. You never know, right?
Sometimes there’s word, often out of California, about a person reaching into a bag of grapes from the grocery store and feeling something move. It’s a black widow spider, and the individual comes just this close to a trip to the emergency room. We all cringe and wash our own produce a little less casually.
While I’ve written openly about my contempt for anything in the arachnid family, I believe that finding something surprising in a bowl of grapes should almost be expected. It’s unnerving, but it’s the price we may be asked to pay for fresh fruit. By comparison, the creepiness factor in this example doesn’t even come close to two other news stories this month.
MSNBC.com reported this little tidbit concerning a passenger on Alaska Airlines: “Jeff Ellis was stung by a scorpion while napping on a flight to Alaska. A doctor on board examined the sting and said Ellis wouldn’t die—probably.”
This is just what you want to hear at 33,000 feet. The Alaskan EMTs standing by when they landed apparently had to Google how to treat a scorpion sting—something of an anomaly in those parts.
“Alaska Airlines said the scorpion probably crawled on board during a stop in Austin, Texas,” the report says.
The best online comment about this story was, “[The passenger] is lucky the airline didn’t charge him their recently added “$25 scorpion removal fee.””
Also, a deadly snake curled up under the hood of a car slid out onto the windshield and somehow remained attached to the vehicle while the family inside frantically drove the interstate. A friend who knows my policy on things that slither thoughtfully sent the compelling YouTube video to me this week. Due to the magic of technology we can not only record these things for posterity, but also view them within seconds of the actual event. Lucky us!
Animals where they don’t belong can be scary and unnatural, like sun in Northwest Washington, or Seth Rogan on the big screen.
Creatures who roam into my comfort zone can consider themselves on notice, and don’t get me started on a bear that eats my chocolate.