I was late to work this morning. This was in part because I haven't been feeling all that well and woke up late, and in part because there was a spider in my bathtub.
I knew even before I woke up this morning that there would be a spider in my bathtub. I'm not psychic; the spider had been there for at least two days. I first noticed it around 2:00 yesterday morning, but let it be--and when I got up for work yesterday, I decided I could go without washing my hair, which allowed me to hope that the spider would simply wander off and perhaps be eaten by the cats.
I am, you see, arachnophobic. Spiders have taught me many useful things over the years--that keening is involuntary, that concerned neighbors may call the police when you let out a sustained shrieking wail in a suburban house with the windows open, that police called by concerned neighbors tend to be suspicious of claims that sustained shrieking wails of such alarming intensity can be caused by something as innocuous as a spider--but I have never managed to conquer the irrational fear they provoke in me. My reaction to them is intensely physical. Even looking at a picture of a spider brings on chills and nausea.
Being me, I don't stop at simple arachnophobia. Killing the spider doesn't solve the problem; it just leaves me with a dead spider, which in my world is worse: it is now both a spider and a corpse. The issue is not, or not just, having respect for living things. It's more a matter of the overactive and persistent imagination with which I've been endowed. If I flush the dead spider down the drain, I will shudder for weeks every time I run the water; if I throw it in the garbage, I will have visions of it revivifying itself every time I pass the trash can.
And thus I knew when I got up this morning I was going to have to find a way to transport the spider in my bathtub to greener pastures. The arachnid relocation required the sort of planning one might more readily associate with a military maneuvre in hostile territory or a daring tightrope walk over a vat of burning tar. My preparations were both physical (assembling cardboard and tupperware, donning a long-sleeved shirt, propping doors open) and mental (visualizing a successful outcome, taking deep breaths, having an extra cup of coffee). After about an hour's worth of obsessiveness, I had to admit I had done everything I possibly could to prepare.
I am pleased to report that the mission itself went off without a hitch. I threw the cardboard in the tub, gently shoved the spider onto it with the tupperware, picked up the entire business, and walked toward the door as slowly and smoothly as any bomb-squad member. I walked through the hallway to the propped-open door of the enclosed stairwell, put my burden gently on the ground, and twitched the tupperware onto its side while simultaneously jumping back as far and as quickly as I could. The spider skittered off into the darkness, I skittered back into the apartment, and it was done.
Even the aftereffects were mild. There was a bit of shuddering and gagging, to be sure, and I did compulsively clean the bathtub with bleach, but after a third cup of coffee I was able to get in the tub and get on with the day.