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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Florence Colorado's Finest: Officer, There's A Rattlesnake In My House!

Duct Tape: One of Law Enforcement's Finest Tools In Snake Wrangling

I came home after a long day's work at an antique store on Florence's Main Street. For those of you who don't know, Florence Colorado is a friendly, small town that is also the Antiques Capital of Colorado. And for those of you who don't know: Florence is also home to one of the finest police forces. I should know--I've had enough interactions with them in my few short years here. 

And for those who don't know: Florence has quite the bunch of animals alternately amusing and scaring the heck out of some of its residents.

I put my feet up and heard a few crackling noises. I didn't think much of it. We had had a mouse in the free-standing pine cupboard in our kitchen a few weeks ago. One day when I went to get some dog food out of the cupboard, I scared the mouse and it flew onto me, as we both screamed and both went running for cover. I figured the mouse was back.

But the rustling noises were so persistent, I finally called upon my mellow Collie and feisty (but chicken)  Terrier to be of some use, other than being adorable and loyal, and check out the noises. Both pooches dutifully went into the kitchen and the Collie looked alarmed and herded something, possibly by the kitchen sink.

I went back to relaxing. Got dinner on. My husband came home from a really long day at work and we settled in to watch Sleepy Hollow.    I heard a crackling noise, grabbed the remote to turn the TV down and asked my husband, "What is that noise?"   

I still had the remote in my hand when he got up and yelled, "My gosh! There's a rattlesnake under the bookcase!"

Always calm under pressure, he told me to get the dogs into the bedroom. Of course, they were timidly walking towards the little serpent. We all ran to the bedroom. Well, not my husband. I'll call my husband, Dirk.

Dirk, stood in the living room staring at where he last saw the snake disappear under the bookcase. I hissed, from the bedroom, "Call 911! And come to the bedroom NOW!."

I'm calm (in my actions) in threatening situations--but I tend to flap my arms like a bird and hiss a lot when a mouse jumps out of a cupboard on me, or when a rattlesnake rattles for at least 30 seconds under any of my furniture.

"Call 911!"

Dirk attempted to get Siri (or whatever the heck that lady's name is on the I-phone) to get the non-emergency number for Florence Police Department. But he refuses to run like a chicken to the bedroom and tells me he needs to see where the snake is and if it stays in place. Our conversation goes like this:

Dirk: Find Florence Police Department.

Siri: I've found two police departments. Do you want me to call emergency services?

Me: It's a damn emergency! Tell Siri to call 911. Or better yet--you do it!

Dirk: Find Florence Police Department.

Siri: I've found two police departments. Do you want me to call emergency services?

Me: Call 911 right now or I'll strike worse than a rattlesnake.

Dirk is finally compelled by my hysterical tones to call 911. If my phone hadn't been too close to the snake, I would have called 911 without getting Siri involved. Dirk later told me that he was trying to call non-emergency because he didn't want to get chastised for calling 911 for a questionable reason. I wonder what would have qualified for an emergency in Dirk's opinion? Godzilla busting through our roof? An escapee from Super Max knocking on our door and asking for cupcakes, a change of clothes and traveling money? 

Officers from Florence Police Department arrive a few moments later. I peek my head out of the bedroom door and saw two uniformed officers. I somehow expected them to have big leather gloves, I guess like the kind you use to train falcons and perhaps a beekeeper's headgear and some boots. And maybe a snake-catching hook. I see nothing of the sort and yell at one of the officers," Do you have some type of tools or equipment?"

One officer chuckles, "Nope. The only tool I have is a lack of common sense."

My adrenalin levels were so high that I seem to remember mumbling something to Dirk about having concerns that they aren't trained for this--and where the heck is someone from wildlife or the humane society, or the snake wrangling society.

The officer assures me that he can handle this and I tell him I am just concerned for their safety. After all, I had stuffed clothes and plastic under the bedroom door cracks in case something went wrong.

I decide to close the door and keep my semi-hysteria to myself and let Florence's finest do their job. After all, Dirk is watching out for them. Dirk later confided that he would have done the snake wrangling himself, with possibly the help of a male friend a few blocks away, but he knew I would not permit that. He got that right!

I have the bedroom door shut and nearly hermetically sealed, But I do hear the officer ask if we have a wire coat hanger. The words are barely out his mouth and I'm flinging a wire coat hanger down the hallway. I then ask if a metal trash can would help. "It sure would," the officer answers.

I fling that like a hockey puck down the hallway and this time keep the door closed.

I hear some rattling. I'm quivering and consider yelling,"Just shoot the darn snake, I don't care about my house or belongings!" I shut my mouth. And in case you don't know--I get upset if I accidentally step on a snail and am a member of the ASPCA and the Humane Society. So, killing a snake is not first on my list of options.

I hear more rattling. Then the officer, the lead snake wrangler, screamed an expletive. "Oh, pardon my French."

"Don't worry," Dirk muttered, "I've said a lot worse."

This is not going well, so I stuff more things under the door and another expletive is heard. I'm actually thinking more and worse expletives in my thoughts than the officer could ever utter.

More rattling, thumping and then silence. I decided to pull up my big girl panties and see what's going on.

The officer said," Hey, do you have any duct tape? And hey, what about a piece of cardboard box?"

Ah, the high-tech world of snake wrangling.Dirk runs to the garage to trim some cardboard. I'm still shivering in the bedroom and finally get enough guts to see what is going on.

Ah, the officer and lead snake handler is proudly crouched by a large vintage Quality Candies tin that we use as a trash can. He is holding down a neatly trimmed piece of cardboard and waiting for Dirk to bring some duct tape.

Now, I purchased this candy tin (now a snake cage) from a fellow antique dealer who used to work at the same shop as I did. And come to think of it, I also purchased the lovely pine bookcase the snake was hiding under from her. We no longer work at the same antique store, but she still works downtown in the trade--so I think I'll have to pay her a visit this weekend and tell her to take her voodoo hex snake powder curse off the two items I purchased from her that were involved in the rattlesnake battle.

The officer, whom I will now refer to as, Officer Hero, was smiling and asked me if I'd like to take a peek at the rattlesnake before the cardboard got taped down.

"Thanks, but heck no!"

"Oh, come on," he cajoled," Curiosity will get the best of you!"

"No, it won't," I screeched.

Seeing my obvious agitation and lingering affects of adrenalin, he decided to comfort me with the information that there were a lot of rattlesnakes around here. Well, I'll be darned. We live in a newer house in the developed part of Florence. Certainly not on farmland or in the more rural areas.

Dirk brought in the duct tape. Officer Hero and the other two officers--I did not notice until I calmed down that there were three officers-- did a bang up job of duct taping the cardboard to the candy tin.

I ask all of them what I can do for them, since I am grateful for what they did. "Nothing, we get paid for this," one of the other officers replied.

You don't get paid enough, I am thinking. I was thinking along the lines of buying tickets for the Policeman's Ball, if Florence even has such a thing, or donating to some police charity--but am too rattled (pun intended) to pursue that idea.

"Okay," Officer Hero said," We'll take care of the snake and be back to return the tin later. And if it's too late and you're not up, we'll just leave it on the porch."

"Oh, I think I'll be up most of the night after this."

Officer Hero was truly fantastic. He had attempted to get the snake by just blindly scooping at it with the hanger and then later this hook-type thing called a Thera-Cane that one uses to reach sore spots in places you can't reach.

Dirk later told me Officer Hero and the other officers didn't wish to move the bookcase because they were afraid of breaking things. Of course, Dirk told them that people were more important than our things.

So, right before the officers left to take care of the rattler, he had the other two move the bookcase back. It turns out Officer Hero is a bit of an interior decorator. He told the other two officers after they moved the bookcase back, "Hey, that's not centered!"

They immediately centered it.

If you look at the above picture, blurry as it is, due to Dirk still being a bit rattled when taking the picture, in the foreground is a pile of dust bunnies. As I came staggering out of the bedroom that's the first thing I noticed before the snake  candy tin. "Oh my God," I yelled," Are those dust bunnies?! On top of this, do I have to be embarrassed in front of the police due to dust bunnies?"

Dirk later told me the officers were going to release the sneaky serpent back into the wild.

I asked Dirk what all the mild cussing and noises were. "Oh, the snake just kept escaping and striking at him."

"Oh, is that all?"

I asked Officer Hero if he'd ever done this before. "Unfortunately, I've done it a few times."

Officer Hero grabbed the tin, which was rattling louder than a tambourine.

And that kids, is why the Florence Police Department is great. It really helps to have an officer with the same twisted sense of humor I have.

Dirk later told me that Officer Hero was teasing me about showing me the snake, because if he lifted the lid it would have continued striking at him. 

So, next time you see one of Florence's finest--raise your respect and a roll of duct tape for all they do.