Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Beauty of Life

On November 9th, 2011, I was riding the U of M bus to class. I sat listening to the music tinkling in through my headphones as a blur of buildings and cars blurred by outside of my window. On a gray sky afternoon, sprinkled with bi-polar raindrops, all I really wanted to do was crawl back into my bed and curl up beneath the blankets. Alas! I had classes to go to, homework to turn in, responsibilities, and life to partake in.

About half way through my ride, something yellow caught my attention from out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it was a wasp or a bee, but when I turned to actually look at it I was confronted by a dangling, mucus colored, eight-legged spider. Seemingly quite large for the average "house spider", its diameter (including its leg span) was approximately the size of a dime. It was one of those creepy-crawly, florescent looking bastards that are so vibrantly an eyesore, it looked as if it could glow in the dark.

Like an ungodly creation it hung, suspended in midair from an invisible silk thread. In the blink of an eye it retreated up the path it had come by. Instead of returning to the ceiling, however, it made its way onto the jacket sleeve of an unsuspecting student standing next to me. For several moments I watched in disgust, fear, worry, and pity, as the spider (with its two front legs wiggling out in front of it) crawled feverishly over the boy's jacket, then onto his book bag, then back onto the jacket.

For a moment I debated about letting it crawl onto my hand or my umbrella, but then what? I couldn't put it anywhere. We were on a moving bus, and it was raining outside. I certainly couldn't just toss it out of the window. Then I thought "What if it bites me?" I didn't want to get another staff infection, nor did I want to relive the pain, the medication, or the healing process. My fear switched to panic as I realized that the boy had not even noticed, or felt, the giant neon spider zig-zagging all over him.

I thought about telling the boy, but I was afraid that he'd smash it right then and there on his jacket, or fling it on the floor where it might get hurt or stepped on by another student's boots. And so I sat, anxiously watching the spider, hoping that I did not unknowingly have one crawling on my jacket or in my hair. Minutes passed. The spider had continued its cycle of book bag to jacket, and was now returning to the sleeve of the jacket again. With its disgusting yellow legs fanned out like someone in a parachute, it began to descend from its webbing again; a nightmare straight out of Little Miss Muffet.

It was almost to the floor when it stopped, as if it had suddenly realized that its invisibility thread were not quite long enough. All of the sudden, a boot came out of nowhere and smashed the spider in midair! Still twitching as it hit the ground, the boot slammed down again and again until nothing remained.

In shock, and despair, I sat. I refused to look at the boy wearing those boots. Part of me did not was to see the smug, murderous look of accomplishment that I knew he would have on his face, the other part of me didn't want to risk going off on a complete stranger right in the middle of a bus ride. I sat in an air of silent defeat. Why is it that the first human response is to kill something just because it doesn't look as cute as a puppy, or as pretty as a butterfly? The bottom line is that a life had just been taken, snubbed out in the blink of an eye. And why? What purpose did it serve in killing a small, fragile being? Because they're "gross" or "icky"? Because they don't look "normal"?

There wasn't even anything left behind, other than the virtually non-existent, mangled corpse on the bottom of some kid's boot. No more neon-yellow legs, or dangling clear web. It was simply...gone. The bus pulled up alongside the curb and it was time to leave. Still debating what I could have done differently, I left the bus. I glared at the spider-killer for a hard second before departing.

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