keenchick

Stories and thoughts about family and life

The Wasp

on May 30, 2014

When I was 15, and growing up on the farm, it was my job to help my dad with our outdoor chores. I loved it, too. I loved the sunshine and driving the tractor or the pickup or hauling hay or working on a fence or whatever job came along. I love the “different” of it all, and the challenges we encountered. Even when it was hot and tiring and hard, I still enjoyed it.

It was about that time that I was preparing to start my orthodontia, and had an appliance in my mouth for several months before actually getting braces. If you’ve never worn an appliance, imagine a retainer about twice as thick, with little screws you have to tighten regularly. The idea is that you use the appliance to do some of the work and you hopefully don’t have to wear the braces as long. Getting accustomed to the appliance, however, takes some practice. I had only just started wearing my appliance, and if memory serves had it a week or two when I had to rescue the pig.

We had a pig in a slant-roofed shed behind our house. He probably was about 50 pounds or so, and he needed a shot of something I can’t quite remember. That was no problem for me. I was stout for my size, and I could easily handle the job. I climbed over the fence and dropped into the pen. As I proceeded into the shed, I lowered down into a “squat” so I would be low enough to avoid the roof. It was about then I heard Daddy say something, but I couldn’t quite make it out. I leaned back and raised my head up to ask him to repeat himself, and that’s when it happened.

I don’t remember anything except Daddy calling to me from somewhere far away. What was he saying? Crawl to him? Then an image of us walking up through the back pasture and him yelling at my mom, who opened the back door. “She’s been stung” I heard him say. I knew I hurt, but it wasn’t quite registering. My mom jumped into action. The next 15 minutes was a whirlwind of activity with Mom tending to me and trying to get me to spit out my appliance. I was totally out of it and my dad put me in his truck and drove me to our doctor, nearly 30 minutes away. I vaguely remember riding through what we call “the bottoms”–the low-lying area of the Petit Jean River where the trees drape low over the road and it’s usually cool and shady in the summer. The next thing I knew we were at the doctor’s office. It must have been that he was driving pretty fast, too, because Mom remarked when we got home that several neighbors had called her to find out what was going on that Daddy was driving so fast.

It turned out that I had 15 stings up and down my back and arms from black wasps. I had really long, thick hair at the time, and the doctor made a point of remarking that it was a good thing I had that all pulled up in a cap (in true tomboy fashion) or it probably would have been a lot worse. Since then, I have had an allergy to stings of that sort, and make sure to carry my Benadryl with me when we travel, just in case. It also instilled in me a fear of flying stinging insects that most of my friends and family find amusing. My husband often remarks that if there is a wasp or bee within 50 paces of me, I know exactly where he is and am positioning myself accordingly.

We work in an older office building in Little Rock. It happens occasionally that a bug or two will end up in one of the fluorescent lights above our heads. Usually by the time we see them, they’ve long since died. A couple of mornings ago, as I’m merrily working along, I hear a buzzing and tapping sound. You know–that sound you hear when a mosquito or bug has gotten into your room and is desperately trying to figure out how far that ceiling goes. I look toward the ceiling, and see that there is a wasp about the size of a small Volkswagen in the light fixture.

I try not to panic. My husband (also our IT person) an I are chatting online about an issue we had going on when I explain the situation and pose my question “do you think he can get out?” I’m sure my husband was chuckling on the other end of the line, but he responded that he really thought it would be okay. It was too late, though. The idea was already in my head. What if he COULD get out? I sat at my desk, staring at the light fixture, and plotted my next move. I tried to size up the situation and confirm for myself that he couldn’t get out. As I weigh my options, his buzzing and tapping grows more and more desperate, and I’m pretty sure he’s really pissed now.

I get up and walk around my desk, never taking my eyes off the light fixture. I step into the hall outside my office and call to Gary, who is 6’2″ and works down the hall from me. Gary can tell by the sound of my voice that this isn’t a normal “I need a favor” request. He is standing in the hall within a few seconds watching me watch the wasp. I try to explain “I’m not afraid of snakes. I can run from snakes. Flying stinging insects are my thing. You can’t run from them.” He gently responded “I understand.”

He walked into the room and surveyed the light fixture from underneath. “I think it might actually be a hornet,” he proposed. Oh, wow. Now I think I might have to faint. Not only bigger, but MEANER. Beautiful. Gary sees my eyes widen and he offers to release it and kill it for me. Panic strikes me. “You might get stung!” I practically scream at him. He explains that he’s not worried about that, but he can see I’m apparently not going to get any more work accomplished if I’m fixated on my new friend. Without saying another word, he gently pushes me into the hallway and shuts the door, leaving me in the hallway and him to go do battle with the beast in my office.

I tried to busy myself for a few minutes checking on the other people in the office. A few minutes later, I heard my office door open and the toilet flush in the bathroom. Gary proudly came down the hall and announced the job was complete. I asked him “are you sure he’s dead?” He chuckled and said “well, yes, I just flushed him down the toilet. I’m pretty sure he’s dead.” The folks in the office have had a pretty good time teasing me about my wasp fear and my reaction to this whole situation.

I’m thankful that my wasp buddy didn’t show his friends the way into our suite. I hope it stays that way. If it doesn’t, I hope they pick a day Gary is in the office, or I just might have to go home early.

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2 responses to “The Wasp

  1. A lot of us have our phobias that often are a result of a childhood trauma. People who tease don’t intend to be mean but if they would just think they would know that they are.

    Thankfully, there are people like Gary and family members in our world with patience and understanding.

    You may already know this and I don’t mean to tease, at all, but there is a Japanese wasp that is about the size of a Volkswagen, at least, relative to other flying insects. A swarm of them can destroy a honey bee colony in minutes before devouring the honey. One sting can be deadly to an adult human.

    Great story! I enjoyed it!

  2. keenchick says:

    Wow! I’d be running for the hills if I encountered one of those. I mentioned your remark to my husband and now he’s educating me on a show he saw with this very wasp. I had no idea! Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you enjoyed the story.

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