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  • Bill Chastain

Rattlesnake Phobia

The Yankees beat writers recently spread bird feed over a colleague’s rental car for the simple reason the writer feared birds. Fortunately for the bird-shy guy, they never took the bait, preventing a Tippi Hedren moment in the parking lot.

Hearing of the prank reminded me of an experience from when I trained to be a concrete salesman in Hudson, Florida.

Rattlesnake by Tim Vickers Photo by Tim Vickers

All the drivers were country boys, so when a rattlesnake slithered up the batch plant’s sun-baked pavement, they had their after-work entertainment. Circled around their find, the gang sucked on Marlboros, joked, and drained cans of Pabst while using a stick to keep the fanged creature at bay.

I kept my distance, which they surely noticed just as they would have a neon sign pronouncing: I’M SCARED SHITLESS! I mean, in addition to packing poison, a rattler had scales and stuff.

When I departed to make the 90-minute drive to Tampa they were still playing with the thing, sending my mind into overdrive about the possibilities on the horizon. By the time I got home, I had convinced myself I would have to deal with the snake in some form the following day. Whether dead or alive remained the only question.

After a restless night, I concluded the most plausible scenario would see the boys find a way to put a dead snake in my car. Watching me deal with my phobia would generate a few smiles at my expense then they could go about their business, right? Well, not so fast. I decided I’d somehow gather up the stones to grab the thing and toss it from the car, that would show them.

And if they went with the live version?

Well, the snake could have saved its venom. Cardiac arrest would have come at the sound of the first rattle. A snake’s equivalent to, “Hello, Carlo.”

So I experienced a dreadful work day waiting for the inevitable to unfold. Only nothing happened.

I never had to deal with the snake. Suffice it to say, the boys got me good whether they intended to or not.

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