Thursday, July 14, 2016

Snakes, why does it always have to be snakes

It’s fair to say you never know what you may run across in the field or the conditions you’re asked to work in…

Oct 2000
Southern New Mexico

It’s late my peer Jai Lee and I have been going from site to site picking up management cards from a system I was working on. The ring itself is about 700 square miles. Sunset was several hours ago the moon was kind enough to take the night off. The sky is filled with millions of stars in the Milky Way, which looks like fog in the night sky.

The site we’re looking for is a bit off the beaten path. The local ops guy has provided a map drawn on a cocktail napkin. The name of the site escapes me at the moment, but I recall the directions involved a dirt road, a farm house and a tower. “You can’t miss it.” He said as he handed us the napkin.

The road ends. We can go left or we can go right. There is a farmhouse in front of us. Jai checks our map. “It says farmhouse and there’s a farmhouse. Think this is it?” She asks.

I shrug “Could be. Does the map show this intersection?” I ask.

Jai is shaking her head. I look at the farmhouse and notice what could be generously described as a tower located behind what appears to be a tool shed. “Well, it’s got a tower.”

Easing the car forward I park in the driveway. Jai reaches for the door and starts to get out. “Hold on a second.” I said. “Why?” She asks.

“These farmers always have dogs and they generally show up right about the time you're too far away to get back in the car.”

Jai closes the door both of us looking around for Cujo. Seeing nothing we conclude this farm is the exception and not the rule, we both start to get out.

Now I don’t know how we missed him, but miss him we did. No sooner had I unfolded my frame from the car and Cujo comes to life about six feet in front of me. Scrambling for the car I half lunge half fall back into the car just managing to close the door before Cujo the junk yard dog starts picking his teeth with my bones. All I hear is barking and the sound of gnashing teeth as he slams into the side of the car.

I look over at Jai “You were right about the dog.” Jai said. Looking up I notice she is not doing a good job of concealing her amusement at my predicament.

As I start to sit up I realize in my haste I’ve managed to shut my coat in the car door. “Now what?” She asks still laughing. Before I can answer the porch light snaps on and a woman carrying a large scatter gun steps outside. “Knock it off!” She yells. Cujo drops to all fours and saunters back to the porch and I’m pretty sure he too was laughing at my expense.

“You can get out now.” The woman yells. “What are you two doing out here, you lost?” She asks.

Jai slides easily out of the car still giggling. I’m still struggling with my coat and the door. My knees keep hitting the steering wheel. So my exit isn’t as graceful as Jai’s.

“We’re looking for the telephone building.” I hear Jai say as I’m getting out of the car.

“There’s no Qwest building around here.”

“It’s supposed to have a big tower around it. The directions we have said it’s near a farmhouse.” I said, finally getting out.

“Oh, you mean the building down the road. Didn’t know it was a telephone building.”

Jai has now rounded the car and is petting the dog who seems happy to see her. I keep my distance just in case.

She gives us directions sans napkin promising us “Can’t miss it,” and as we start to get back in the car she says “Oh, you might want to be careful its rattlesnake mating season.”

“Ah… it’s what?” I asked.

“Just look for anything that looks like sticks. If it looks like a stick just avoid it. My dog’s been bit twice this year.” Did I mention the large oak tree in her front yard and all the sticks on the ground? Who’s laughing now?

That was several years ago. A few weeks ago Peter Steele and I were down in south Florida. Working a job for a customer. There is a site there called Southbay it sits along US 27 in the heart of the Everglades. The last time I was there I spent most of my time killing wasps.

I punch in the door code and pull it open and was greeted by a 9 foot rattlesnake. Ok, it turns out it was only the skin, but still how would you have liked to be greeted like this in your office? It didn’t help that the air conditioning kept it gently swaying back and forth like a spitting cobra.

We jumped back in abject fear doing the Scooby Doo trying to get away from the door and knocking each other down in the process.

“I elect you go in there and take those OSA shots.” I gasped.

“You’re out of your mind if you think I’m going in there.” Pete wheezed.

“Flip you for it.” I said.

Pete is shaking his head violently back and forth. “No, sir, I am allergic to wasps.”

Wasps he says.

In the end, we used the buddy system to take a picture. Not knowing where or if the snake was still inside we heroically got close enough to accurately document why we could not complete our task.

When we reported our findings to the customer his comment was “L3 says they’re pretty sure it’s the same snake.”

“Same snake?” I ask.


“Yeah, they say every year for the last three someone complains there’s a snake inside and they have to go get the snake dude to pull it out.”