Favorite Spider: Wolf
One of my jobs, years ago, was as a line tech at the local airport. I’m not sure why I was called a line tech, but I accepted the mysterious title and told it to people when they asked “What do you do?”
Basically, I was an airport gas station attendant. Personal aircraft would taxi up to the pumps and get gas. Then the person would come in and pay me. This was somewhat annoying because I was usually playing Heroes of Might and Magic on the airport computer.
Jets were another matter. They were too big to come up to the pumps, so I had to go to them. We had a jet fuel truck and I’d drive it up to the jet, get out the ladder, and “fill ‘er up”. I did this to Faith Hill and her husband Tim McGraw’s jet, in fact. Faith Hill is extremely tall and so pretty it hurt my eyes to even look at her. She was taller than her husband, even with his cowboy hat on.
We were not big enough for commercial aviation, just charters and personal aircraft.
Another thing I did was park airplanes in the hangars. We had a dozen hangars and many people rented space in them for their aircraft. People would get out of their expensive airplanes, walk over to the parking lot, get in their expensive cars, and drive away to their expensive homes. It was my job to put their airplanes away.
I did this with a reverse tow truck. I would drive up, hook on to the front wheels, and push the airplane into a hangar. This was delicate work and a job I was not trusted to do alone for several months. You know that blinking light on the wing? It costs like five fucking grand. Be careful when moving airplanes!
Anyway, this is about spiders, so I better start talking about them.
The hangars were huge and when the planes were gone, there was an entire ecosystem happening on the vast prairies of concrete. Crickets, millions of them, were being hunted down by thousands of roaming wolf spiders. It was quite the minute life-and-death spectacle.
I was fascinated—not with the crickets, who are miserable little creatures, though apparently good eatin’. I was fascinated with the wolves. They were so fast! Back in the office, I shut off Heroes of Might and Magic and looked up wolf spiders.
Did you know they have the best eyesight of any spider? Did you know they carry their young on their backs? I saw that a few times on the vast concrete prairies: one big hairy spider covered in dozens of little tiny hairy spiders.
Cue the Ramones “We’re a Happy Family.”
I also learned that, unlike most spiders, they adapt well to captivity. Really, now?
So I came to work one day with a clear plastic box. It was about the size of a child’s lunch box and had breathing holes cut into it by an enthusiastic me. I can’t really remember where I got it or what it held originally, but it was perfect.
In one of the hangars, I scooped up a fine looking wolfie with my student ID (I was in college), put him in the clear plastic box, and became a pet owner (I was between cats). I named him Satan and spent the rest of my shift cooing at him.
Satan lived a long time, for I was a devoted and caring guardian. His water dish was a little cube of sponge that I kept wet. I fed him a variety of bugs, not just crickets. He molted several times. Molting is where he rubbed up against a little twig that was on the floor of the clear plastic box, cutting himself. Then, right there before my eyes, he would climb out of his skin. Then he’d throw his skin away like an old t-shirt that no longer fit and would strut around all shiny and new. Seriously, he looked like a brand new spider. His cool stripes were even more vivid and his skin (hide?) would actually glow, like a pregnant woman’s face.
It was the bomb when he ate flies. In the whole history of me being a spider owner, I was only able to feed him two because they were so difficult to catch and get into the box without killing, crushing, or maiming. When I did, though, WOW! The fly would be all buzzing around in the confined space, banging off the walls, and Satan would climb onto a high point in the box, like a leaf, and just wait and wait and wait. When the fly buzzed close, he would actually jump into the air and catch it in mid-flight.
Holy fucking shit! I nearly came it was so awesome.
One morning, I found Satan dead, curled up in a ball. I was actually sad and even considered having a funeral and burying him. I didn’t, though, because that would have been completely nuts. So, muttering “dammit” under my breath, I flung his corpse out into the yard, much like a cigarette butt. The end.