When I was little, my doctor worked in a clinic that had the coolest entryway. I didn’t much notice the entryway when they reopened the clinic in the middle of the night to deal with my pneumonia-induced 104 degree fever and delirium, but that’s another story. Usually, I loved the place.
We entered through a fully-enclosed glass walkway over a large-scale terrarium. There were lots of plants, a few turtles, and fish in the small pond directly under the walkway. My mother figured out, eventually if not right away, to leave some extra time before our appointments so we could just stop and stare for a while. No, we couldn’t wait until we were done.
The most exciting day was the one with the snake. It was the cutest little scarlet kingsnake, just tiny and absolutely adorable.
It was, by far, the mostly brightly colored thing in the entryway. It wasn’t doing much, but we stared anyway. It was just so pretty.
Then my mother was hustling us inside and into chairs in the waiting room. She didn’t go up to the desk to check us in as normal. No, she went back out to the entryway. Without us. We might have rebelled if she hadn’t come back in quickly. Everything proceeded as usual then, right up to the end.
It wasn’t until we were on our way out that she leaned over the reception desk and said, very quietly, “You might want to know that the snake in your entryway is a coral snake. Those are poisonous.” Then off we went.
We never saw the snake again.
An interesting postscript: As I was looking for pretty snake photos, I discovered that the U.S. no longer has an approved manufacturer of coral snake antivenin. Wyeth decided to get out of the business. It’s okay, though. They just extended the expiration date of the old stuff, so we won’t be completely SOL until this time next year.