There are two men in our group and four women. Laury and I are in B dorm and both teach at community college. Clare, Marna, Joan and Carol are in C dorm. Clare teaches high school in Castro Valley. Marna teaches middle in San Francisco. Joan and Carol are retired from teaching high school and middle as well. I am the novice of the group. These are some educational gurus.
One day, heading to a meeting in C dorm, I left my building and headed down the path towards the soccer field, which is under heavy construction. I turned left and wound between the buildings on the path, and looped around to the back of C dorm, which is the entrance. I spied something in the bush near the building. Must have been a mouse. I got a better angle and peered in.
Suddenly a gray colored snake emerged from the bush, a few feet away, slid onto the path and headed towards the C dorm steps. I froze and watched. It was about two feet long and didn’t have any markings I could see. It went up the steps I was hoping to go up. It got to the front door of the building. It slipped under the front door and disappeared into the lobby.
I listened for screams, but it was silence. Nobody was in sight in any direction. I worried that the teachers had the door open and were chatting and then suddenly all would be chaos…
Nothing. That’s good.
I stood there on the path wondering if I really wanted to go to this meeting. It was optional, just for folks who wanted to learn from Marna how to set up a google site for their class. I was interested, but not THAT interested. I stared at the gap under the door. Now, if I were a snake in a lobby, I’d bounce around a bit (not being clear on how a snake’s brain works, I tend to substitute the model of one of those automatic vacuums that rebounds around a room) and then eventually I’d head back out the way I came. If I had shoulders, I’d shrug and hiss, “Well, that place sssssssucked.”
The snake wasn’t coming out. What were my other options? I couldn’t really tell them about the snake because digitally liberated traveler that I am, I had no phone. A rock through a window? Which window.
I decided to see if I could see what the snake was up to. I should say that I was never one of those kids with the pet snake running around his shoulders and neck. I was the horrified kid in the corner. “Want to hold him?!”
For the love of god, no! Snakes almost make me want to be a baptist, preaching about evil serpents. Yeah, I know, predators are good, they eat vermin, yada yada. But they are absolutely creepy to me: the way they move (Can they suddenly spring 50 feet like the Monty Python rabbit? Absolutely), the way they occasionally swallow a whole goat, they can swim, they can hang from trees, burrow under any fortress…they’re like special forces with the brain of an automatic vacuum.
I stomped up to the front door of the building. As I stomped I said aloud, “Feel those vibrations? That’s a big human coming.” I was at the door of the building now, minding the gap, big time. I reached slowly up to the handle and tried to pull the door open a crack. I forgot, you have to push with these doors. I began to push the door open and stopped. It’s a metal screen door and you can see through it a bit. There, to the right of the door, in the corner next to the door, I could just make out the gray snake in a loose tangle on the floor.
Why kind of psychotic snake sets up shop right next to the door of an apartment building? Is he planning to just pick us off one by one? I opted not to enter the lobby.
I walked back down the path and thought, time to find a cleaning lady or a guard or something. The cleaning lady would shrug, march up to the door, grab it by the tip of the tail, thump it on the pavement like she was doing laundry, and then hurl it into the bushes (although I have since learned you find these on the menu at local restaurants, so she might have saved it for all I know, which is little).
No cleaning lady.
There is a guard booth nearby as this is a private campus with a gated entry. I walked up to the guard booth. He smiled at me but quickly went to that look of language panic. We had already established he knew no English. I pointed back to the building and began doing the snake wiggle with my right arm. He stared at me. I pointed to the ground and then continued my belly dance move. He stared at me some more. No matter how slowly or how loudly you say snake, a Chinese guard who doesn’t know English is not going to really get it. I tried to show the snake suddenly shooting 50 feet across the ground in a perfect horizontal line, then I wrapped the snake around my neck and fell to the ground, writhing, battle it. OK, not really (besides, that’s another story, as some of you know).
He picked up the phone and called someone. In Chinese he said what I guessed might be, “I’m going to need a strait jacket, tranquilizer and a truck with a cage.”
I beckoned for him to follow and headed back to C dorm. He followed a little ways, wary, but then scurried back into his booth. He was either terrified of snakes, me or of his boss seeming him out of guard booth.
I decided to go check on the snake. As I rounded the corner, the snake emerged from the building. It went down the steps again, straight down the path and into the bushes, up and through a fence out to the greater jungle area beyond.
I decided I was interested in the tech lesson after all and joined the meeting a bit late but with a good excuse.