That’ll Do Snake… That’ll Do

, , , , , , | Right | February 21, 2020

(I am part of the education staff at a zoo, and when our story takes place, I am handling a friendly, relaxed little milk snake so that visitors can pet her. It’s been a pretty slow day, and the area I’m stationed in is mostly empty. Suddenly, this tiny old woman rounds the corner, dressed in a colorful suit and jaunty hat. She’s using a walker and has to be somewhere in her 80s. When she sees me, more specifically when she sees the milk snake wrapped around my arm, she hesitates.)

Me: “Would you like to pet her? She’s a milk snake so she’s non-venomous, and she’s very gentle.” 

Old Woman: “Will she hurt me?”

Me: “Well, she’s been handled and pet dozens of times and she’s never hurt anyone.”

Old Woman: “Okay… I’ll try it.”

(She proceeds to march up to me and listens very carefully as I explain the proper way to pet the snake. Then, ever so cautiously, she reaches out and gives the milk snake a pet. Her eyes light up. She tries again, more confidently this time. Then, she looks me straight in the eye.)

Old Woman: “I am eighty-three years old and this is the first time I’ve touched a snake.”

(She proceeded to do a victory fist-pump and went on her way. It’s always stuck with me because, in less than two minutes, her entire worldview on snakes seemed to shift. Job well done, little milk snake, job well done.)

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