I gave that spider a week to die or move out of my car. My husband, Brett, vowed there’d been no spider sightings the week he drove the Jeep, so after a thorough inspection Monday morning, I eased carefully into the driver seat and took my chances. At every stoplight, I glanced around, double-checking for new webbage or other evidence, but as far as I could tell, the thing was gone.
After school that day I headed to Costco to re-stock for the next few days: two boys, ages 20 and 15, can eat surprising amounts of food. After compulsively scanning the car for new web activity at each stoplight, I reassured myself that my car was arachnid-free.
Until I stopped at the next light and had the distinct feeling that something was watching me. Knowing I shouldn’t (I mean, why does the movie character go looking in the basement when the scary music starts?), I turned my head to the right, and (cue the Psycho score), there he was. Looking right at me, posing in full view on the edge of the passenger door, right next to the lock.
Worried he’d jump into my purse, I grabbed my bag off the passenger seat. As I hugged it to me, he edged closer.
I panicked and rolled down the window, thinking he’d get the hint and take a hike, but he just disappeared into the gap between the window and the door. I rolled the window back up, hoping he’d at least stay there, but by the time I made the turn into the Costco parking lot and had the guts to look, there he was again, taunting me, menacing me.
I parked as fast as I could, flipped on the speakerphone, and called Brett.
“You’ve got to meet me here and switch cars,” I yelped, without so much as a hello.
“The spider’s back! I can’t stand it! I need a new car!” I blubbered.
“Roll down the window,” Brett instructed calmly from his safe vantage point 15 miles away.
“It’s no good! He just escapes into the crevice every time I do that!” I pled.
“Then grab your shoe and kill him.”
“No! My shoe isn’t long enough–I’d have to get too close!”
Just then, the spider moved even closer.
Flinging my door open, I leapt out of the car, leaving the passenger window rolled down. People in the parking lot were staring, but I didn’t care. They probably thought I was yelling at myself because the phone was still in the car, still on speakerphone.
“Sue, just grab your shoe,” Brett was saying.
“No! It won’t work! He’ll dart back in! Just come get me!” I hollered back.
I knew I looked and sounded like a baby, or worse, like there was more than coffee in my cup, but I couldn’t help it. I knew where the spider was, back in the crevice, for now. But if I went inside to shop, when I came back to the car, I’d have no idea where he was. And I’d have to drive home, knowing he was somewhere in the car with me.
I whined some more gibberish into the phone, then heard a voice on the other side of the car.
“Ma’am? Are you okay?” A Costco employee, putting away shopping carts, leaned around the side of the car.
“No! I’ve got a spider in here, and I can’t get him out!”
“I’ll help you,” he offered.
“Really? Would you really do that?” I practically hugged him. Glancing at his name tag, I made note of the name I’d ask be given to my first grandchild: Sam. My new hero.
Sam got near the window and peered in. I feared the worst, worried he’d startle Spidey back into his hiding spot.
“You’re in a bad spot, buddy,” he crooned softly, reaching his hand right toward the creature. “Come on, buddy, it’s okay, don’t worry.”
My hero was a spider whisperer!
To my relief (and horror), the spider listened and started climbing up Sam’s outstretched hand.
“How can you stand that?” I blurted.
“I grew up in New Mexico,” my new best friend explained calmly. “I’m only afraid of Black Widows. Here you go, buddy, you’re okay now,” he said as he gently lowered his hand down to the asphalt and let the spider crawl away.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I knew I was making a fool of myself. I mean, a grown woman who can’t kill a spider. Who refuses to drive her car because of an insect smaller than her big toe. Who calls for backup from the Costco parking lot.
It took a while for my heart to stop racing, but as I pushed my cart through the aisles, I tried to get some perspective. Was there some lesson in all this for me? Was the universe sending me a message? Did I need to sign up for Arachnid Exposure Therapy?
One thing I know for sure: I filled out a “How Are We Doing?” card at the Customer Service Desk, extolling the virtues of Sam and why he deserved a very large raise, effective immediately.
And one more thing I know for sure: my name is Sue, and I’m an arachnophobe.