There are certain realities to living in Texas. I realize that I will sometimes have to wear boots to an assignment because I'll be trudging through manure or some other delightful substance fresh from a livestock animal. I realize that I will be unbearably hot every summer and everyone around me will either constantly say "It's been hotter! remember that summer when..." or "I can't believe it's this hot." (Believe it, you're in Texas.) I realize that football is practically a religion, and one must treat it with the respect and reverence that Texans do.
But there are some realities that never occurred to me.
I know that Texas has a large variety of snakes. I'm aware of this. They like to slither around and enjoy their homeland as much as any other native animal. I'm fine with that. Up until this experience I always thought they were pretty cool. But then, I never thought one would pay me a personal visit.
We were driving home from Corpus Christi after a day at the aquarium and some great food at Stereo Musicbar & Sushibar. We were listening to music, enjoying the cool night air and headed for our last destination before home, coffee. A little sleepy, we thought a beverage might be a nice jolt before we drove home.
Instead, we got a different wake up call. A slithery one.
It was already dark, I was going the prescribed 70 miles an hour on the highway when Jessica Rodrigo, our niche sections editor and resident foodie, said the words that I will never forget. "Kat.. there's a snake in your car." Our friend Kass and I laughed, surely she was kidding. "Are you serious?" I asked her. "Yes, pull over. pull over right now." Now throughly disturbed, I sped up and flew off the exit ramp to pull over. As my car was quickly going onto the side of the road, Jessica was saying "OK it's right beside you. Lean forward. Lean more forward, keep going." Little did I know that the snake was slithering its way onto my chair, ready to adorn my shoulders with its body at any moment. I finally stopped the car with my body pressed up against the steering wheel, wondering where the snake was and what to do now.
Once my car was stopped, Kass shot out of the passenger seat so quickly that when I turned to crawl out that side of the car (upon instructions from Jessica because the snake was making its home on my side) she was already gone. I scrambled out of the car and when we looked inside again (now safely out of its realm), the snake dropped to the floor and slid under my seat. Running to the other side of the car, we opened the door and tried to find it. It had disappeared, into the vents or the seat or something, we were unsure.
What were we to do now? What do you do when a snake is in your car and you can't find it?
I called the police non-emergency line and asked if they had any advice for a snake in a vehicle. They didn't. I'm sure whatever local newsroom was listening to that call was as intrigued as we would have been, I hope they had snake on their bingo cards.
But a couple officers came out to help us anyway, and so did a random passerby. He even jumped my car when we realized it was dead because we left all the lights on in our haste to find our extra passenger.
There was a moment where my car was dead, the police were searching for the elusive snake, Kass was holding a snow shovel (she was banging on the seat to try and scare the snake out, you can tell how much we know about snakes that we thought shaking, banging and generally terrifying it might make it leave its new nest) and all I could was "Freakin, Texas." Surely, I thought, this would never happen back home in California. Who has snakes in their car?! Not people back home, that's for sure. Texas has many charms, but I can tell you that snakes in vehicles is not one of them.
Unfortunately the police couldn't find the snake and generally seemed unsure whether to believe us. They asked us if it was a lizard. If we were sure it was alive. If anyone might be playing a joke on us. (Note to all friends, you put a snake in my car, and you're dead to me.) We assured them that there was a snake, he was just really good at hiding. They eventually just scratched their heads, told us they hoped it wasn't poisonous, to try to get some moth balls (snakes hate moth balls?) and wished us a safe trip home.
So there we were. A snake in my car. No solution. It was dark. It was 9:30 at night. And we were 1.5 hours from home. Everyone I've talked to has said they'd never get back into that car, but really, I saw no other solution.
We got back into the car with the snake.
About 30 minutes into the drive, we knew exactly where he was. His head popped out the back of my seat as I was driving and Kass yelled "stop! stop! I saw his head!" and I flew once again to the side of the road where we ripped open the back of seat as much as we could, just in time to see him slither deep into the coils and airbags in the seat to disappear once again. The little bastard.
So we kept driving. Kass was holding her phone flashlight at my feet to make sure he didn't come out under the seat and scare the living daylights out of me while I operated a moving vehicle. Jessica watched the back of the seat in case he decided to venture out into the world again. We got home without any more incidents. And now it was time. Time to evict the snake.
Jessica unhooked the back of my seat, removed springs and with multiple flashlights, tongs, garden gloves, a metal stick, a coat hanger, two close calls where the snake struck at her and we all, predictably, jumped so quickly out of the car you'd think we were on fire, the snake was eventually pissed off enough that she was able to grab him with the tongs and fling him from the vehicle.
He tried to slither back to what I'm sure was the most comfortable home he's ever had, but being lightning quick, I ran to my car, jumped in and moved it three houses down the block. Over my dead body was he going to get back in there.
In the end, he was longer than I expected but less scary once he wasn't slithering up onto me while I was driving. But I have to say, I hope to only encounter snakes in museums, grassy fields and other wild terrains from now on. Snakes belong out in the world, but they don't belong in my car. Even in Texas.
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