After graduating from college in 2001, I fell on hard times as I awaited orders for Officer Candidate School. The Army has a justifiable reputation for messing up paperwork, so it was almost a year before Uncle Sam finalized my departure date.
During those hard times, a buddy of allowed me to move into his trailer, which was located way out in the country. I was appreciative of it then, and I’m appreciative of it now.
One day, I was chasing a mouse around the living room trying to exterminate the little varmint when it decided to run behind the couch. I can proudly say that I had a confirmed kill that day, but that’s not the story.
What I saw next almost cured my stutter.
I saw what appeared to be about four feet of snake skin, so, naturally, I started packing my stuff up like Gene Chizik and his entire coaching staff after the 2012 football season.
I slept at a buddy’s house that night and never went back to that snake infested trailer again.
It’s not that I’m afraid of a snake; I just don’t care to live in the same dwelling as one, but that was over a decade ago. I would’ve handled it differently today.
To the best of my knowledge, I’ve only killed one snake in my life and that is one too many.
This time of year, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t see at least one photo of a dead snake on Facebook.
Much like seeing a Bama fan at Target, many of us, including yours truly, are startled when we first see one, but this is a natural reaction; however, it doesn’t constitute the killing of this amazing creature.
Some people just enjoy killing them as if it solidifies their manhood or something, whereas others legitimately suffer from ophidiophobia, which is the abnormal fear of snakes.
“It’s a shame that so many well-educated people have an irrational fear of snakes and refuse to acknowledge that they suffer from ophidiophobia and refuse to be treated for their psychological disorder, “ said my friend, geezer, and resident snake expert Dr. Bob Mount.
Some people claim they kill them because they might bite. Well, a koala bear might bite, too, but in 41 years on this earth, I’ve been bitten by neither.
Another guy says he kills them simply because he is bigger. Well, I encourage him to keep that in mind if he ever has an altercation with Shaq.
Then, of course, there’s the old saying “the only good snake is a dead snake” which couldn’t be further from the truth. Snakes are not the enemy. Snakes are our allies and serve such a vital role in the ecosystem.
I don’t condone but I do understand the killing of venomous snakes, particularly if there are small children and outside pets present; however, I’m partial to relocating the critter myself.
That being said, if you come upon a venomous snake while out in the woods, let it be. Remember, you are the one encroaching upon its territory at this point.
When I was a kid, I remember riding down a country road with my baby sitter’s husband who was the proud owner of a late seventies model Camaro. We sped by a snake trying to cross the road. He saw it, slammed on the brakes, put the car in reverse, and ran over the snake.
At the time, I thought that was cool. Now I know better.
The other day at lunch, one of my best friends told me about a similar incident with him and his daughter; however, in this case, it was his seven year old daughter encouraging him to back up.
Apparently, it’s ingrained in the minds of children that snakes are inherently evil.
That very day, I caught a six foot long gray rat snake on my back porch. It was one of the most beautiful creatures I’d ever seen, and this particular snake was as docile as a lapdog.
Snakes have a strong wrap. On the other hand, they have a bad rap.
According to the University of Florida, the chances of dying from a venomous snakebite in the United States is nearly zero, as only one in 50 million people will die from a snakebite. You are nine times more likely to die from being struck by lightning than to die of a venomous snakebite.
I know a veteran with three tours in Vietnam who was bitten by a venomous snake and struck by lightning twice. For the record, he was an idiot and put himself in those predicaments. I loved him, but he was an idiot, nonetheless.
So for goodness sake, leave the snakes alone. Let them be, and above all else, when your wife tells you to stop welding and to come inside because a storm is approaching, put down the torch and heed her advice.
Update: I wrote this on Wednesday but am posting it today, Friday. I scolded my buddy for running over that snake the other day. He just texted me a picture of a very large rat snake in his yard and he let it live. In the past, he would’ve killed it. See, we if we truly believe in something, we can all make a difference, one person at a time.