I like a good challenge. I bite off more than I can chew, burn the candle at both ends, and overachieve on a regular basis. I hate defeat; I rarely admit it and certainly not before at least one good fit has been flung. But I met my match a while back at my local post office. At this quaint, rural site, I cried “Uncle!” to a monster python. Ok. So may it was just an oak snake, but the tale is still worth repeating.
I pulled into the parking lot around 9 P.M., unaware of any unusual circumstances. I hadn’t picked up my mail for several days and knew the postmaster was probably to the point of cussing me as he attempted to stuff yet another CenturyLink flyer into my cubbyhole. I entered by the side door, which was closer to my box. As the door vacuum-sealed behind me, I looked down to see an eighteen inch snake stretched across the floor, only two feet from my own.
I am not one of those dainty women who screams and faints at the sight of bugs. I didn’t even make a peep as I noted the slender head and argyle pattern across his back. He was probably nonvenomous, which earned him a reprieve in my way of thinking. While I have been reared in the South under the premise that a serpent was responsible for all the original sin in the world and anything slithering across the ground was entitled to a complimentary decapitation by way of a garden hoe, I am a practicing pacifist who logically considers most snakes as a remedy to rodent infestation. If they would commence eating spiders, I’d have a few dangling around the house. But this little guy, while posing no immediate threat to my existence, lay in the direct line of my box, and while he didn’t seem like a bad sort of fellow, my motto is Better Safe than Dealing with Antibiotic- Resistant Necrotic Flesh Thanks to the Overuse of Medications in this Country. So I saluted the doormat accessory and exited the building.
I was turning the key in the door of my Corolla when I started thinking about the situation. I hadn’t encountered a woman-eating tiger in the post office, nor was there a velociraptor on the loose. In truth, when I stopped to think about it, my mail was being held captive by a paralytic. My brand new Cache catalog was in the clutches of a creature with no hands and no ammunition. How hard could a takeover be?
I slammed the car door and doubled back, looking for stones in the shrubbery as I walked. Why a hedge that spawned reptilian wildlife should be deficient in rocks and sticks is beyond me. Pockets empty, I skirted the building and entered the premises from the front, gathering Intel of the layout as I surveyed the interior. I craned my head around the corner and was gratified to see the interloper stagnant on the rug. I felt a disproportionate sense of elation at having out-maneuvered a creature with a cerebrum the size of a lentil. I scoped the counter for artillery and decided the plastic brochure holder could be utilized in my attack. The sturdy holder wasn’t as aerodynamically efficient as I would have hoped, but beggars can’t be choosers.
I stood fifteen feet from the target and heaved the homemade missile along the floor. As is consistent with my bowling skills, I missed. By a lot. The second leaflet holder was even less mobile than the first, and once again, Slim Jim never even felt a breeze, so great are my pitching skills. If the Army recruiter from my high school reads this, he should be glad I never enlisted. I would have been the cadet who, while brilliantly passing any written test they offered, would have bombed an orphanage, church, school, and a hospital while leaving the enemy military post intact.
I had depleted my weapon supply, and short of dismantling the Priority Mail counter, a move that would surely put a frown on Uncle Sam’s face, I was empty-handed. I nixed the idea of throwing my keys into the reptile abyss, lest I spend the night with one eye open under the Outgoing Mail slots. I could have tossed a plethora of brochures in his direction, but unless he was terrified of literacy, I couldn’t justify a method that would yield untidy results. I even entertained the notion of going home and asking my neighbor for his shotgun. His wife is a snake-killing enthusiast, and summertime offers more explosions next door than a 4th of July fireworks show. But just in case my aim matched my earlier gutter balls, I decided against the move with the vision of me blowing a 5’x5’ hole in the side of the post office while the prowler escaped amidst a confetti cascade of pre-approved credit card applications. Seeing the plastic holders littered across the floor, nothing remained except to content myself with vandalism of a government office and to wave the white flag of surrender.
So I sounded the retreat and drove myself home. I’m sure the postal worker who opened the next morning would wonder what in the world had happened, but I wasn’t about to ‘fess up to my pitiful extermination techniques. Besides, if I heard a blood-curdling scream the next morning, I’d know she had arrived to find the nighttime visitor still in residence. At the end of the day, you simply have to know when to gracefully admit defeat.
© 2013 – Traci Carver