Snakes have a bad rap

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.

I caught this little fella last year while cutting grass.

I caught this little fella last year while cutting grass.

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.

Texas Indigo snake eating a Rattler (courtesy of the Texas Hill Country Facebook page)

Texas Indigo snake eating a Rattler
(courtesy of the Texas Hill Country Facebook page)

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.

I caught this beautiful gray rat snake on my back porch. If you don’t want critters on your porch, keep it free of clutter.

I caught this beautiful gray rat snake on my back porch. If you don’t want critters on your porch, keep it free of clutter.

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.

Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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The Power of Prayer…a Soldier’s Journey

The Power of Prayer…a Soldier’s Journey

In honor of this National Day of Prayer, I’d like to share with you the Power of Prayer.

I graduated from college in August 2001. A month later, the tragic events of 9/11 unfolded and changed my life forever.

Before attending college, I was an enlisted man in the Army. In the wake of such a catastrophic event, I felt the need to serve once again; however, that didn’t happen right away.

Foolishly, I’d quit my job at Kroger six months prior to graduation with the rationale that I’d have no trouble finding employment upon graduation. In fact, I anticipated having a job prior to graduation. Both were miscalculations on my part.

I’d saved enough money to make ends meet as long as no monkey wrenches entered the equation. Unfortunately, the monkey wrenches kicked in the door and brought baboon hammers with them.

To say times were tough is like saying Harvey Updyke likes Alabama.

I experienced everything from an eviction to a blown transmission to harassing phone calls from bill collectors to strained relationships with loved ones. If it was negative, there’s a good chance I experienced it.

My credit got so bad that I got turned down for a paper route. Times were tough.

Along this dark journey, I’d often find myself in prayer, simply asking the Lord to help me make it. At the time, I thought it meant I was asking Him to absolve me of the challenges in my life. In hindsight, He did exactly what I asked of Him. One day at a time, He helped me make it.

I reported to Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia, on September 11, 2002.

OCS

As my luck would have it, I was assigned to Alpha Company, notoriously known as “Alphatraz”, for a grueling 14 weeks of training.

I’m not exactly sure when, where, or how but sometime early on I injured my right knee. What initially began as mild discomfort would eventually become unbearably excruciating pain.

I was hesitant about going on sick call, because an extended profile, which restricts physical activity, would cause me to miss training and to likely be recycled to another company.

The culminating event of this ordeal took place in the wee hours of a chilly Fort Benning morning as we started what was to be a relatively short road march fully equipped with ruck sacks and training weapons known as rubber ducks.

Within a matter of minutes, I was using the rubber duck as a crutch as tears streamed down my face. I was forced to abandon the march and take refuge in the truck that was following our formation.

Make no mistake about it; the pain was immense but the tears had more to do with the trials and tribulations I’d experienced over the past year coming to a head combined with a real sense of hopelessness.

By the time I got to sick call that morning, my knee was about three times its normal size. I was given an initial 10-day profile and would indeed be recycled. I was devastated.

I prayed that night. I mean, I really prayed. I felt connected in a way in which I have only experienced on one other occasion. Perhaps one day, I’ll share that story.

As usual, the lights were abruptly turned on the next morning at “o dark 30.” Upon first call each day, we had only five minutes to be standing outside in formation ready to start the day.

As I readied myself to jump down from the top bunk, I grimaced while anticipating the agonizing pain that would soon follow, but much to my surprise, I stuck that landing like Mary Lou Retton at the ’84 Summer Olympics in LA. There was no pain. Zero. Nil. Nothing. The swelling had disappeared, too.

I was astonished by what appeared to be a miraculous healing but wasn’t completely convinced so I maintained my profile for the remainder of that day.

The next day, however, I returned to sick call and convinced the doctor to rescind my profile. Although there were other speed bumps along the way, none of them involved a bum knee.

I went on to graduate from Officer Candidate School and was sworn in as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army on January 10, 2003.

The pinning ceremony with my mother and my "grandpa."

The pinning ceremony with my mother and my “grandpa.”

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years.

The day I raised my right hand and stated the oath of office is undoubtedly the proudest moment of my life, and without blinking an eye, I can say that it never would have happened without the power of prayer.

The power of prayer got me to and through OCS and has allowed me to serve admirably as a commissioned officer for the past decade, which includes three tours of duty in Iraq.

Prayer fuels me daily and is a whole lot cheaper than that stuff you pump into your vehicle.

Without it, I hate to think where I’d be.

Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.