Yesterday I was sitting in the front office of the school my kids attend, minding my own damn business when my need to 'fix' things reared its ugly head.
"Okay, somebody needs to get the spider in the storage room," E's teacher suddenly appeared at the counter, eyebrows hovering up near her hairline and her pupils magnified impossibly behind her glasses. Her arms clamped close to the side of her body, fingers clenched around a single-serving of chocolate pudding, it was pretty clear she was freaked out.
Both receptionists turned their blonde heads at the sound of her voice, but neither of them moved out of their chairs in a rush to solve the problem.
"Spider?" one asked as if she were casually inquiring about the temperature outside today.
"Huge. Ugly. Looks like one of those bad kinds," came the reply.
My senses were already heightened. Not because I'm afraid of spiders (although I am significantly more jumpy when there is one around), but because she was clearly distressed by this particular one.
"I was just heading in to get a lunch for one of the kids and there it was. It's huge. I'm not going in there again until someone gets it out."
The teacher stands there for a minute waiting for anyone to comment or come to her rescue but it doesn't seem as though there's a race to be hero. Curious, I take a few quiet steps toward her. She catches the movement and turns to lead me toward the storeroom. As we get to the doorway she puts her hand out to stop me. I feel a little like I'm a teenager in some cheap horror flick. She's actually holding me back from stepping off of the carpet onto the linoleum floor that lines the storeroom. Her head cautiously cranes around the corner to peek back behind a roll of white butcher paper, her head jerking back several times like a chicken in a farmyard. I'm not laughing, though. Even though I know this spider isn't about to jump out at her, I respect her fear.
She finally points it out to me. Yup, he's a big one. Fat brown body with dark spots, fat legs that stretch out in all directions. He's bigger than a half dollar - just sitting there compressing himself down into the crack between the butcher paper and the wall.
"Is there a Mason jar somewhere we can put over him?" I ask, looking at the metal shelving lining the walls.
"I don't know. I'm outta here," she's afraid to even be within visual distance of this guy.
I watch her disappear back into her classroom and wander slowly back toward the front office. What am I thinking? I hate spiders, too, and while I don't want to hurt one, I don't really relish the idea of capturing it, either. But nobody else is doing anything and E's teacher is really freaked.
Aha! There are several abandoned water bottles and thermoses next to the pile of sweatshirts and coats in the Lost and Found area. Now all I need is a stiff piece of paper.
The first attempt doesn't go so well. This guy is fast - fueled by his own adrenaline, I'm sure. He zips across the storage room and corners himself again. My second try just sends him back behind the roll of butcher paper. The mouth of the thermos isn't much bigger than him and I really don't want to clamp it down and see one of his legs sticking out. Ugh. Now I've given myself the shivers.
Third time's a charm. I slip the paper between the thermos and the floor, trapping him, and walk purposefully toward the front door of the building. Once outside, I debate where to set him free. Not near the playground full of kids. Not anywhere in the parking lot - he'll either get squished or end up in my car as some kind of cosmic joke. I finally let him go in the tall grass behind the cyclone fence, hoping he'll thank me on some level for getting him back out in nature.
Crap! As I return to the front desk and announce that the spider is gone I realize I've just created a monster. I will forever be known as the spider-getter. This is not a role I covet. Once again, I realize the lesson here is not to assume that my job is to fix it when someone else is disturbed. Too late.