There is a spider that lives in my kitchen window named Barry. When I first saw him I didn’t immediately form a bond and bestow him a name. It was more of a slow growth as every morning I walk into the kitchen and immediately locate Barry, because if Barry is still behind the window glass that means he’s not anywhere he can get to me. So our relationship really grew out of familiarity. I like to walk in and remark things like:
“Barry you’re looking quite fat today”
“Looks like a feast today for you Barry”
and “Where you going Barry?” when he ventures too far out of his corner.
It’s only a matter of time until my roommates overhear me talking to him.
The screen in Barry’s window isn’t just broken, it’s shattered into shreds which blow in the wind. One time our Estonian roommate burned something on the oven and opened the window. Our French roommate remarked “I prefer to smell the burn than open that window” and I knew the French were our oldest ally for a reason.
Before I named him, I decided I needed to identify him lest he was the dreaded funnel web spider. This led to me googling pictures of spiders on my phone that I disliked so much I held my phone at an angle so I didn’t have to see the full picture. And I held it delicately so I could throw it at any minute should the spider become sentient and crawl out of the picture. Based on my non-scientific opinion Barry is a common Sydney house spider, which is an extremely mundane name for a spider that while it won’t kill you, its venom will be very painful and perhaps cause skin lesions. I’ll take “won’t kill you” for the win!
The apartment I’m living in is behind the hotel and home to 3 Working Holiday Visa makers at any given time who work there. So they’ve been rotating in and out for years which leads to an apartment that is barely functional. I’m not saying the apartment looks like where Saw was filmed, but I’m saying when the producer asked to see the set, the set director was like “Not yet! It needs a little more time!” That’s my apartment.
The window in my room is wedged shut by a spoon. I didn’t put the spoon there, it came with the room. This does however create a small gap which I was rather cavalier about. On my second week as I was drifting off to sleep I noticed a large amount of small flying insects gathered around my light. I counted at least 16 of them.
The knowledge that certain insects can kill you, combined with a generally large amount of insects, creates an attitude where you immediately assess the threat of something and decide if you can be bothered. They looked pretty harmless to me and I silently willed them to stay above and fell asleep.
The same went for the slug that literally turned around and looked at me while I was showering 8 inches away from him. Dare I say he was almost cute, but I was frazzled because I didn’t have my phone to google “wait, are there poisonous slugs in Sydney?”
The GIANT black cockroach I surprised at night in my kitchen survived only because he was too high for me to get him and also I would never kill that thing, that’s what roommates are for, and they were asleep.
Lastly, while cleaning a room at work I found a large-ish spider on the bathroom floor. By my account he was Barry’s variety, but not quite as big. Like Barry might take this spider to spider prom and they would make a handsome couple. I stared at the spider and weighed my options:
- Do nothing and let the people who move into this room deal with it, hope they don’t complain to the front desk and/or get a skin lesion. Verdict: I can’t do that to another human
- Kill it. Verdict: If I had to feel and hear that spider smoosh I WOULD DIE
- Vacuum it. This seemed the most likely option until I started to imagine it crawling out of the vacuum with a vengeance.
- By the grace of that spider’s god (Aragog, I assume) there was an empty Pringles can in the trash of that room. I thought such an object might provide a safe distance to capture this thing, and capture it I did. Separated only by a thin plastic cover I suddenly got scared and threw the Pringles can out the window where it rolled to the middle of the parking lot. I decided even by more relaxed Australian standards, watching the housekeeper throw a Pringles can into the parking lot was not professional, so I fetched it and let the spider free on a grassy patch.
Despite extreme pompous satisfaction that this was the most selfless act a human had ever accomplished, I was quite jittery and delicately checked all surfaces for the rest of the day.
Now, synthesize all the above and know I’ve only been here three weeks and I didn’t even mention the flies, millipedes, mosquitos, ants and other common house spider that lives in the corner of the hall and I try never to go near. So I’ve channeled my paranoia into checking my shoes every time I put them on, checking under the toilet seat every time I use it and I never enter a room until the light is on and I’ve looked up. When I say every time I mean every-time. I check my bed every night and I shake out all clothes before wearing them. I’ve become a ruined person.
I was recently talking to an Australian about the amount of spiders they have when they countered:
“but you have bears!”
I conceded the point, but later thought wait a minute! But Bears don’t live in my windows or my shoes!
We kept talking and she struck me as a matter of fact person who didn’t check under the toilet or near her bed for spiders each night. She gave her thoughts on spiders:
“Most spiders aren’t bad because they keep to themselves”
“But the funnel web is scary!” I interjected
“Yea, but they tend to live on the ground”
She said it with such conviction, and had clearly survived intact to adulthood in Australia, so I calmed down and thought she is probably right. She paused for a minute and added:
“The White-Tailed Spider is pretty bad though, they can be quite aggressive, and they like shoes”
Excuse me? This wasn’t in my search! I started furiously googling the White Tailed Spider as this had somehow escaped my purview. It turns out it doesn’t stay in its web but rather wanders at night searching for prey and often ends up in shoes or in THE GODDAMN FOLDS OF CLOTHES.
I mention to her that my window has a small gap created by the spoon being used to wedge it shut. I ask her if she knows where any tape is so I could tape up the window, assuming she’ll tease me for worrying.
“Oh yeah I’d probably handle that right away, I’ll find you some tape”
I taped up the window. Tomorrow we spray for cockroaches. Barry says No Worries Mate.