Thursday, December 30, 2010

The trials and tribulations of my commute

Alright, so... it's a miracle I'm alive today. I mean, in more than just the usual "every life is a miracle" type way. It's a miracle that I survived the drive to work. So there I was, driving to work, cruising along 75 at slightly above the speed limit thanks to a spectacular lack of slow-causing traffic. Then, I noticed something pop into view. It was in the middle of my windshield, but I was having a hard time focusing on it. Probably because I was looking through the windshield and not at it. Once my eyes focused, I realized the awful truth.

A spider had come down from my sun-visor-shade-thingy and was now dangling by its silk right in front of my face.

Alright, let's back up a minute to discuss the severity of the situation.

Me: irrationally afraid of spiders. I have, over my many years, managed to talk myself down from true phobia to something just resembling a phobia. After all, I did manage to severely sprain my ACL falling out of bed because I thought a spider had touched my foot. Case in point, my own foot had touched my foot, and my flailing was for naught. I didn't know that of course, so when I found myself tangled in bedsheets on the floor, unable to move my leg, I assumed the worst--the spider had bitten me, and I was dying. That was one of those terrifying moments when I was too scared to scream. For a few seconds at least. When I did scream, I scared the living daylights out of both of my parents and my ever-gallant father rushed to my rescue. Yes, he rescued me from my own bedsheets...Since then, I've managed to dull my stupendous fear, to the point where in the very weeks preceding this tragic arachno-mobile event, I had killed an offending spider in my house, without screaming, squealing, or otherwise acting the ninny. I am not yet so highly evolved to be able to "rescue" spiders and put them back into the wild. That involves far more contact than I can manage at the moment.  See, I don't hate spiders. I think they're grand in function and I really love E.B. White's classic tale of spider & pig. I even cried when Charlotte died. Alright, I still cry every time I read the book or see the movie. But I like spiders in a very abstract, far from me and my face kind of way. I want them to continue serving their function of controlling the bug population and spinning miraculously beautiful webs that can then get sprinkled with dew and twinkle in the morning light... I just want them to do it somewhere unseen by me.

The Road: US Highway 75, speed limit 60. Cars? There were a few of them. Not so many that we were going slowly, but enough that all of us doing the speed limit and then some meant that there wasn't an available place to have a panic attack, swerve wildly, or behave erratically without endangering the life of myself and many others.

Somehow, through a seemingly Herculean effort on the part of my rational brain to control the screaming-girl-ninny brain I managed to not swerve uncontrollably through traffic. I did realize that dying on the highway was worse than being touched by a spider, if only marginally. It sounds so very silly when spelled out in black and white, but at the time, it was a serious consideration. I prayed. I hyperventilated a little. I could hardly keep my eyes on the road for checking to make sure the spider was still visible.

It swung itself over to my rear view mirror, where it sat, so calm and smug on the mirror, looking like two spiders. It was one of those ones where the legs split in the middle, so there's two up and two down on each side, and kinda grey, about the size of a dime... if it stretched its little legs out all the way... which would be even creepier, but only to those who don't care for the critters. To my spider loving friends, he/she was lovely. When laying still, it was almost flat, and when it moved, I could see all the little bends in it's multitude of legs... and the fact that I can even say that without shuddering is a huge triumph for me. Alright, so maybe it wasn't quite dime sized. But here's a picture I bravely captured before my escape (If you're squeamish like me, scroll fast!)

spider... in my car... perilously close

In every way, not a life threatening spider. Not black widow or brown recluse. Nevertheless, it was there, in my car, dangerously close to me, as I perceive danger. A comfortable distance for me is about 1.5 miles from a spider, or at the very least behind some very thick glass. I was on the wrong side of the glass from this one. Then a sunbeam went and made things worse. For at least a mile or so, the thing had been lying all still and almost picturesque on the mirror. When the sun hit it, the thing freaked out and spent the rest of my drive, on the highway if you recall, taunting me by running around and around the rear view mirror. Running, erratically around and across and all over the mirror. Do you realize how close that thing is to your face? Way too close for comfort.  I kept having flashbacks to the time when I was foolish enough to watch the movie Arachnophobia which was one of the worst decisions I've ever made.  I though maybe the silly of a campy horror movie would help reduce my fear and make me more rational. Seriously-- "eight legs, two fangs and a bad attitude"?  How could anyone take that seriously.  Surely the experience would leave me laughing at my own silliness. Nope.  It instead made me terrified of lampshades, large bowls of popcorn and shower curtains for their ability to hide critters waiting to bite & kill me.

And as nerve wracking it was for me to watch the thing making its curious little laps, it was worse when it would wander across the backside, and thus go out of sight. Out of sight is not out of mind. Out of sight is the perfect excuse for my irrationality to taunt me with visions of spiders in my hair and in my purse and in my clothes and then my skin started crawling and I almost lost it.  It was all I could do to stay on the road, stay focused on driving, and keep it together.  I was moments away from becoming a shrieking ninny in a moving vehicle.  Unacceptable.  Fits of shrieking ninniness should be confined to times when not operating heavy machinery.

So, the taunting little critter would reappeared briefly now and again in intervals that seemed eons long but were more likely measured in seconds.  Then it retreated back up the silk string into the visor thingy. Oh, that was maybe the worst. Now I really didn't know where it was. Was is in the visor, about to appear even closer to my face than before?  Was it making its way to the sunroof, where it might loose its footing and drop down into my hair to lay its little eggs?  The uncertainty was driving me mad!

When it crawled out on the edge of the window right by my face, even closer to my face than the rear view mirror, I was thankfully only a few yards from my exit. I pushed myself back into my seat as hard as I could, and thanked God that I was tall, and so had already moved my seat itself as far back as it would go. I leaned as far to the center of the car as I reasonably could while driving. I parked at the office and then realized things were even worse than I thought.

I couldn't get out of the car. The spider was RIGHT THERE... I'd have to put my head, which as you know contains my hair and my face, much too close for comfort to the resting place of the little spider. I couldn't bring myself to do it.

I had to crawl across the console to get out the passenger side door. Yep, I'm a ninny. But, before I left the car, I had to do something about the spider. I didn't want to leave it there, to wander wherever it wanted, doing who knows what, putting its little spider feet all over my things. Nope. I tried to open the window and shoo it out. No luck. I tried to squish it, but it just fell from its perch to the seat, or maybe the floor board, I don't really know. I scrambled out of the car as fast as I could.

I still don't know where it is, other than in my car.

So, I can't get back in the car.

I need a new one.

A spider-free one, preferably.

Edit: I am happy to report that at the time of this posting, the offending vehicle has been fumigated by the awesome, patient, virtuous and wonderful man that I married.  He picked me up at the office (which is thankfully on his way home) and drove the spider-mobile to the store to get a bug bomb while I took his miraculously spider-free car to get dinner.


Shannon Hopps said...

Oh my Gawd, this is hilarious! AND you took a picture of it?? Honestly, why are you not writing a column for the Dallas Morning News? You really should consider it.

Rikie Floyd said...

You are a braver woman then I!! I would not have taken a photo. *shiver*

beylit said...

If it had been me, or Jessie for that matter, we would be dead on the side of 75.
We once gave the kitchen to a spider because neither of us were brave enough to go in and kill it.

Anonymous said...

Ya...spiders should not be rescued and put back into the wild. If they somehow get out of the "wild"...sorry bout ya!

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