We need to talk….  about snakes.

Yes, you heard me.  And please note that I said “snake” quite calmly.   Lower case.  Nary a single exclamation point.   As opposed to the more frequently accepted grammatical usage, which is SNAAAAAAAKE!!!!…often accompanied by much running about, some hyper-ventilation, and possibly an interpretive dance or two.  Many folks just don’t care for snakes.

I bring this up, of course, because, as many of you are aware, Righteous Rides Headquarters recently suffered an infestation of the pesky reptiles.  And yes, if you look it up (and don’t quibble too much) an “infestation” can be any number greater than 0.  We certainly have plenty of photographic evidence of there being more than 0 snakes involved in said incident.  I also bring that up because of an unfortunate episode a few years back involving some volunteers in the shop, a large rubber mallet, and a fan belt from a ’63 Rambler.  (In their defense, the fan belt did look a little sketchy.  I hear the reconstructive foot surgery went rather well.)

But back to the incident in question.  Those of you fortunate enough to have actually visited the current HQ of our valiant missionary assisters, may have noted the compound’s proximity to all of the abundant flora and fauna of central Warren County.  In fact, it’s not far from what used to be a state-sponsored reptile preserve.  Yup, the back end of the property has an abundance of green stuff and all the disturbing things that can slither out.   So it is perhaps not surprising that something slithered in.

For the sake of precision journalism, some questions, of course, need answering:

What kind of snake was it?  There seemed to be much debate after the photographic evidence was posted.  Some folks said it was a black snake, others voted for Pine, or Gopher. Others simply opined that anyone fond enough of snakes to actually identify them was sick in the head.

How big was it?  The photographic evidence lacked scale (pun intended), so it was hard to accurately judge.  One could lie about it, I guess.  Certain species of fish have been known to spontaneously change size, according to seasoned fishermen.  Regardless, it certainly was not in the Anaconda or Boa range. The leading opinion seemed to be along the lines of “Who cares?  It’s a SNAAAKE!!!”

How did it get in the office?   Hard to say, but there are plenty of doors at HQ, some of them large enough to drive a van through (Duh!).  It’s entirely possible that whilst the intrepid RR crew was prepping a vehicle for the next incoming missionary, the aforementioned unwanted guest snuck in, possibly disguised as a fan belt from a ’63 Rambler.  Then again, maybe it was always there.  Who’s to say there’s not an entire colony of them lurking about within the depths of HQ?   (I’m just now getting a message that the ladies in the goody bag ministry would like to thank me personally for even suggesting such a thing.  No thanks is really necessary.  But I am wondering why they want to meet me behind the building. At midnight. Alone.)

Why would our unwanted reptile leave the warmth and relative safety of the refuge?  Who can understand the motives of the wily serpent?  Perhaps he was just looking for a good heel to bruise (Yup, obligatory Biblical reference.  Look it up.  Hint: It’s kinda near the front.)

Or maybe he heard Fred keeps a collection of reasonably attractive Rambler fan belts in a corner of the shop.  Fret not.  We don’t give our missionaries 50+ year-old cars.  They get nice, reasonably new Chrysler vans.  And they don’t use fan belts any more.  They’re now referred to as “Serpentine” Bel….(wait a minute.  I’m starting to smell a conspiracy here…)

Maybe it was hungry.  (Not sure what type of snake likes Cheez-its or pretzel bites with peanut butter)  Many snakes eat mice or other small rodents…but we’ll not go into the possible rodent count in and around HQ.  Some of the staff is nervous enough as it is, and have already taken to wearing steel-toed combat boots.  (Those of a certain age may semi-fondly recall getting into childhood tussles over the suggestion that one’s mother “wears army boots.” It’s a little bit disconcerting to discover she actually does…)

There were suggestions from the more kindhearted that perhaps said reptile could have been reasoned with or otherwise encouraged to proceed elsewhere.  Let’s not be ridiculous.  Nobody can actually reason with a snake…at least outside of the “parseltongues” in the Harry Potter novels. (And only a very few of the Righteous Rides staff can manage a passable British accent. You know who you are…)

So nobody actually tried talking to the intruder in question…although it’s possible a “nice snake” or two may have been muttered as a certain engineer-type executive slowly approached with a broom handle hidden behind his back.  (We’ve heard that about engineer-type executives…one minute they’re lulling you into a false sense of security with their latest Power-Point presentation.  The next, it’s WHAMMO! Lights out with a chunk of wood.)   I know for a fact that there’s an institute of higher learning not all that far from here that trains its wanna-be engineer-type executives in the proper procedure for running around, frantically pounding a snake with a stick. (Sorry, it’s Rolla, not LeTourneau…)  So we can’t really blame our own engineer-type executive for taking the textbook application of Mass X Acceleration = Force as the best solution to the snake equation.  He’s no Steve Irwin.

You remember Irwin, right?  Blond Australian guy on TV.  Very friendly.  Loved all sorts of creepy crawly things.  No deadly broom handle or equally deadly math equations for him.  He would have got down on his belly, given the snake a big smooch, and said “Crikey! She’s a real beaut!”

That brings up an interesting theological conundrum.  Among our crowd, it’s not unusual to long for the afterlife.  (Some days more than others…)  You’ve all heard the rhetorical question: “Who do you want to meet first when you get to Heaven?”  The answers can vary greatly.   Well, what about poor ol’ Steve Irwin?  He passed away some years back, leaving his reptile-loving legacy to his kids.   Assuming he’s up there…and also assuming that Heaven is a place of great joy, where we are surrounded by what we love…is ol’ Steve surrounded by snakes, crocs, and other things that some of us on this mortal coil are not too fond of?  Would you stop by his little corner of Heaven for a “G’day, Mate!”?


…so far there have been no more slithery-type visitations reported.  Colder weather will soon be here, and the pesky creatures will slow down considerably…what sick-in-the-head snake aficionados call “Brumation” (which is very different from “broom-ation,” which is what may happen to you if you slither too close to an engineer-type executive…)  Snakes and other cold-blooded types will spend the winter months in their holes, laying about, watching reruns of “The Crocodile Hunter” on cable TV, and avoiding any unnecessary expeditions in search of an attractive fan belt.  Which is good, because the Righteous Rides crew will carry on their mission to provide vans for returning missionaries (the winter months are reportedly a bit slower, but the work must continue.  No brumating allowed…)  And as always, they are looking for some intrepid volunteers.  Combat boots not necessarily required.  But you might want to bring your own broom handle.  I think the ladies in the goody bag ministry have grabbed all of the ones we had.