The very word elicits panic.
Creepy, crawly creatures with their eight lightning-fast legs. Their multitudes of beady little eyes. Their silent stalking.
I was driving my kids to school this windy morning. The windshield was caked with leaves and pollen from last night's wind and rain. I turned on the wipers and cleared most of it away, leaving an outline of crushed leaves outside the wipers' radius.
I began the drive, but this morning, I thought I'd pay attention to the little things I saw along the way. The white and red striped awning hanging over Fabiano's candy store. The jaywalkers in front of Sparrow Hospital. The girl running in the opposite direction of the approaching bus. The train that stopped traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue, that first made us groan as we anticipated the long wait, and then made us laugh because it turned out to be one engine towing another engine backwards. That was it - two train cars and we were on our way again.
But I was completely unprepared for. . . .
As I slowed to a stop at the intersection of Penn & I496, I caught the quick motion near the top of the windshield. Surely it was some small leaf that finally broke away from the crud and was about to fly free. But I glanced up and a scream escaped my mouth. My children jumped in their seats.
A spider! Inside of my car. On the windshield. Right above me!
I slammed the car into PARK and started to get out and then realized. . . ."I'm still on Pennsylvania Ave. I'm in the turn lane to get onto 496. I can't abandon my vehicle, as much as I'd like to run away screaming. I have to force myself to get back into the van."
My kids were shouting, "Mom, what's wrong???" I managed to spit out the horrifying word, "sp...spii...spider!" I quickly dug into my purse and grab a microfiber cloth and threw it at my daughter. "If you see the spider, kill it!" I didn't have any kleenex, so I would have to take my chances at having spider guts on the cloth usually reserved for cleaning my glasses. Or the occasional nose blow. (It's machine washable.)
I still had to drive, but I kept a very light touch on the steering wheel. I fumbled for the mechanical switch and moved my seat back as far as it would go while still allowing me to reach the pedals. I placed two fingers from my left hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and kept my right hand on the arm rest. I had to minimize the opportunity for my fanged nemesis to drop down onto my body while I was driving. If that happened, it would not be pretty. I'm sure it would mean a fiery crash as I would undoubtedly lose complete control of myself and the vehicle.
I somehow made it to school while keeping my eyes glued to the top of the windshield. I only used my peripheral vision to actually navigate traffic. Not the method I would recommend, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
I came to a squealing halt in front of the school. I jumped out and tried to locate FrankenSpider from the outside of the car. Where was he hiding? How could I flush him out and squash him before the drive home? Unfortunately, it was dark and windy, so I couldn't detect his hiding place.
I quickly but carefully drove to Walgreens. I went straight into the store and found the pest control section. I found a product labeled Insect and Spider Barrier for $9.99. I don't usually drop $10 on a moment's notice, but I would have paid any price to not have to re-enter my vehicle unarmed.
As I walked back to my van, I thought, "He could be anywhere." I carefully opened the door, keeping vigilant watch for any falling arachnids. Nothing. I opened the bottle and started pumping the thick liquid along the top of the windshield where it meets the ceiling. I was hoping Darth Spider would come out fighting so I could finish him off, but no such luck. I felt confident that he was at least trapped in the ceiling upholstery, so I cautiously began the drive home.
Upon my arrival at home, I opened all the doors, sprayed more bug barrier goo into all the places where the ceiling meets the windows. Still no spider.
I am hoping that today becomes hot enough that any creature trapped inside of a vehicle will perish. And I hope I get to see his little dehydrated body when I get back into the van so I can be certain of his demise.
Otherwise, the showdown between my unworthy adversary and myself will have to wait for another day.
I'll be ready, Spiderzilla. I'll be ready.