Around a year ago, I was out on my evening walk. Things were running a little later than usual (due to sibling-related delays) and it must have been somewhere between 10:30pm and 11pm when this anecdote took place.
I was walking through the neighbourhood, when somebody opened their front door and started approaching me.
“Hey. Can you help me out?” she asked. Since it was so late and she was a complete stranger, I assumed that it must be something quite serious, so I agreed to offer my help.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“There’s a huge spider in my house. You need to catch it. I can’t sleep knowing that it’s in here.”
“Oh, okay,” I said. “That’s fine.” Being an experienced spider catcher, I imagined that this was something I’d be able to get sorted quite quickly and easily. Spoiler alert: I was a little over-optimistic.
“It’s just in the kitchen,” she said, leading me to the door, but unable to go through due to fear.
“Whereabouts?” I asked as I peeped through.
“Right on the wall at the back. It’s huge. You can’t miss it.”
“Okay. I’m going to use a glass to catch it, if that’s okay?”
“That’s fine. Just do whatever you have to do. I need to get it out of here.”
So I wandered into the kitchen and had a look at the wall at the back. It was conspicuous in that it was completely spider-free. I looked around, but I couldn’t see it anywhere. I turned around and reported back to my new arachnophobic friend.
“I couldn’t see it anywhere in there,” I said. “Most likely it’s just gone back inside the walls where it will stay without bothering you. I wouldn’t be surprised if you never see it again.”
“Oh god,” she said, her eyes widening with fear. “Don’t say that. Just knowing that it’s still in the house will keep me up all night. You’re going to have to find it.”
“Well,” I said, a little skeptical that I’d be able to find it, “I can certainly take a more thorough look around.”
“Thank you so much,” she said, before retreating to a point even further from the kitchen.
When I got back to the kitchen, it was still looking peaceful and spider-free. Now, I won’t bore you with a description of the kitchen, but it wasn’t small and it wasn’t empty. There were a lot of things in it that a spider might hide on or inside and there was a pantry as well. So, I spent quite some time searching every nook and cranny.
Eventually I found it! The problem was that it was in the small space between the wall and the radiator. Quite honestly, I would have thought that it’d just stay there all night, but I knew that she wouldn’t really be satisfied with that. I needed to report back again.
“Hello,” I said, smiling friendlily at the woman who was now at the opposite side of the living room. “Do you have anything long and thin that I might use for spider-poking purposes? I have found it, but I am going to need to coax it out before I can catch it.”
“Yeah, sure,” she said, grabbing a gardening fork out of the shadows of the room. “Will this work?”
“It might!” I said.
As it turns out, it didn’t. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried before, but it’s really hard to shove a gardening fork into the back of a radiator with any level of precision. Thankfully, I did not need the gardening fork, because I found a piece of paper in the kitchen which was long enough to poke the spider when approached from underneath.
Instantly, the spider was on the move, scurrying around everywhere. I had two concerns – first, I wanted to get out of the way, because I didn’t want it to crawl on me (those things have huge fangs). Secondly, I didn’t want it to hide somewhere else, because I’d already been hunting it for almost half an hour.
I’m pretty proud of what happened next. I got back up onto my feet (having previously been laying on the floor next to the radiator) then quickly went back down and perfectly trapped the spider under the glass – something which required better aim than I usually have.
“I have it!” I called to the woman as I carried it out of the house. I released it a fair distance from her house and then came back to her.
“I’ve just released it down the road,” I said. “Hopefully now it will just go into the house of somebody who isn’t afraid of spiders.”
“Thank you so much,” she said. “Honestly, I am utterly terrified of the things.”
“It’s no problem,” I said – and that was that. Sometimes as I walk past that same house on later evening walks, I wonder if she’ll appear again, but I have never seen her again. Or, at least, I don’t think so – I am very bad with faces.