My (mostly) open-door policy

A few weeks ago, back when it was warm enough outside to keep the front door open and let the wind flow through the screen door, I realized I had a true problem.

The workday was over, I was making a sweet potato quiche for dinner, I had Sam Smith songs playing from my iPhone, and I had the house to myself.

When it started to get a little chilly, I wandered toward my front door to close it, but I stopped dead in my tracks, like an animal in the forest that spies an even bigger predator; on the door handle was a spider larger than I’d seen in a long time.

The scariest part was that I was more horrified by killing it than keeping it alive. I don’t like unnecessary deaths, and I’d saved many a spider and other insect before.

I didn’t think this guy’s capture and release would be much different.

I grabbed a large Starbucks cup and a scrap of cardboard out of my recycling bin and prepared to strike.

One horror film minute later, I had failed, and the spider was nestled into the lock hole on the doorframe, like a cat hiding under a bed, just out of reach. I couldn’t close the door and lock it without crushing him.

After an embarrassing amount of time with a flashlight, a pencil, and other search and rescue tools, I was at wit’s end.

“I’m just trying to help you,” I said, melodramatically. My front door was still open. It had gotten chillier. My neighbors were probably wondering who “buddy” was.

I stepped away, but not too far away. I grabbed my laptop and sat as close as I could to the refugee’s hiding spot, waiting for sudden movement.

Twenty minutes later, I grabbed a thin piece of paper, rolled it into a thin tube, and decided it was time.

“It’s for your own good,” I assured him, approaching the lock hole like a soldier on a minefield.

The next few minutes were a flash of paper and brown grocery bags, pencils, and screams. Finally, I had him on the ground and inches away from the Trader Joe’s bag. After several tense chase scenes in the area where the wall meets the wood paneling, I netted him. I quickly brought the bag outside my front door and let it sit there with the spider inside, like a naturalist releasing a lion back into the wild. Back inside, I closed my door as quickly as I could.

The next morning, when I stepped outside, the large Trader Joes’ bag and the Starbucks cup were still sitting on the concrete walkway. I didn’t want to look closer, but out of the corner of my eye I saw a crumpled, shrunken arachnid, inches from the opening of the bag. Had I failed? Should I have ended his life sooner, sparing him from this unglorious end?

The conclusion to this story wasn’t epic, and I didn’t learn any lessons from the saga. Actually, I will probably do the whole thing over again.

Even if they plan to meet their end the very next day, I will keep saving these unwitting visitors, one Starbucks cup at a time.

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