Truth isn’t always stranger than fiction, but sometimes it is pretty unbelievable.
Take, for example, an article I read about a man from Austria who, while sitting on the toilet, was bitten in a particularly sensitive area by an albino reticulated python. The snake, which was more than 5-feet long, belonged to the man in the apartment next door. Apparently at some point after slithering out of its cage and its home, it had the urge to use the loo and wound up cozily coiled in the neighbor’s toilet.
I feel for the gentleman who, while in the process of going No. 1, got the No. 2 scared out of him. However, he definitely is not the biggest loser in this story. That distinction belongs to the on-call reptile expert (who knew there was such a thing?) who came to the rescue. According to the article, this poor sap had to retrieve the snake from the toilet, clean it off (ew!) and return it to the owner next door.
I don’t know how much on-call reptile experts in Austria make, but if this is part of the job description I can guarantee it’s not enough.
Some of the most difficult and thankless jobs out there are the most necessary. Everybody has to eat, but food service workers put in exhausting hours for lousy pay. Sanitation workers fare better salary-wise but never actually get a holiday off – they shift their workweek to avoid holiday pickup, but they still are out there five days a week picking up the same amount of sticky, smelly trash. And never forget that it’s someone’s job to clean the public restrooms after a big sports tournament where spectators have eaten nothing but chili dogs and nachos for three days straight, and the atrocities found in the facilities are far more disturbing than a snake in a toilet.
These unenviable jobs have it rough, but they may be eclipsed by a newly minted, often volunteer job that’s making the rounds. After several months focused on mass vaccination sites, the Biden Administration is shifting its COVID-19 preventative efforts to local outreach, including (but not exclusively) sending community members door to door in some neighborhoods, offering reliable information about the vaccine’s efficacy and in some cases providing shots on the spot for anyone interested.
I’ve done door-to-door solicitation before — it’s not easy and it’s definitely not fun. I can’t imagine doing it in today’s environment, where the misinformation campaign against these efforts has already started in earnest.
Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert called these volunteers President Biden’s Needle Nazis. North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn told a friendly audience at this month’s CPAC gathering, “Think about what those mechanisms could be used for. They could then go door-to-door to take your guns, they could then go door-to-door to take your Bibles.”
Offering free shots leads to taking away guns leads to forcibly removing religion. Forgive me if I just don’t follow that logic.
The campaign to vaccinate the nation continues, and rightly so. With less than half the nation fully vaccinated and states like Idaho defiantly holding below 37 percent, there are still plenty of individuals to reach out to and at least offer the chance to get vaccinated.
Successes will likely be few and far between. For every hundred doors knocked, there may only be a handful of individuals willing to listen and even fewer who accept the free vaccination. In June the state of Alabama increased its adult vaccination rate by only 3.9 percent through door-to-door efforts — but that 3.9 percent equals nearly 150,000 individuals who got a first dose of the vaccine who otherwise may not have. And for that 3.9 percent, these efforts could make all the difference for them and their vulnerable loved ones.
It’s going to be a thankless job. It’s going to involve a whole lot of negativity and abuse. It might even be more unpleasant than fishing a snake out of a soiled toilet.
But if it results in even one individual in our community getting the life-saving vaccine, hand me a clipboard and assign me a neighborhood, because this is one unpleasant job that is absolutely worth doing.
Stellmon set sail for a three-hour tour on the Palouse in 2001. She is now happily marooned in Moscow with her spouse and five children.