A spider is alarming under the best of circumstances. When it comes to close encounters of the car kind, the sight of spider in your side view mirror is a shock secondary only to the sight of a spider on your steering wheel. Though I started a bit, I was on the way to work, so my mind soon drifted to thoughts of the day ahead.
I didn’t think about the spider again until the next morning, when its web was strung between my side mirror and the door. Not until I started driving did I realize that car spider was still in the web, now twisted a bit, and it did not look like a comfortable ride at all. At the light past my neighborhood, car spider began to crawl with all its might toward the mirror. I was beginning to feel fond of car spider, so I drove a little slower to give it time to reach shelter from the wind for the trip down the interstate. Car spider huddled into the corner of the mirror and appeared to be none the worse for wear when I arrived.
Again, caught up in my day-to-day activities, I didn’t really think about the spider when I left that day. And when I didn’t see it the next morning or two, I thought it had either moved to a more promising locale or perhaps not survived the commute.
But on Friday, there the spider was. This time when I opened the car door, car spider took off toward the mirror as if it had been trained. It was like a circus trick, or perhaps more like a side show, because now it became evident that car spider was missing three legs on one side, no doubt from a car ride tangled in the wind. But car spider still survived. That kind of will was worth respect, which was what led me to delay the oil change I’d planned. I was not sure I could trust car spider to strangers.
When I left the house to run errands on Saturday, the web was rebuilt on the car. I blew on it a bit to try to encourage the spider to move to the mirror, but it didn’t work. So I drove slowly enough that the web would not twist so much in the wind. It was not so quick to climb to the mirror, perhaps because the wind was gentle on the web. I got concerned as I started to move toward 55 on the road toward the interstate, so I pulled over, and this time the spider scurried toward the mirror with no delay.
For the next few days, I nervously watched car spider at the beginning of my ride to work in the morning, and checked to make sure it was tucked into the mirror when I left at the end of the day. I parked near the edge of the parking lot, thinking perhaps car spider would be enticed somewhere more hospitable. But when I noticed the landscapers trimming the hedges, with the threat of the leaf blower impending, I went out and moved my car.
And then one day, perhaps when I was in too much of a hurry, when car spider didn’t move no matter how much I blew on the web, when I had begun to think that this little five-legged being was invincible, I saw the web blow off the car just as I turned out of the neighborhood. More than once I’d thought the spider was gone, one day when it ran away from the mirror instead of toward it, others when I’d been sure the silk would not hold. When I got to work, I opened the door, looked carefully all around, and still no sign. I did see what was undoubtedly a black widow in the door well. If not for car spider, I wouldn’t have noticed that danger.
And even now, I am still not sure that car spider didn’t survive. Anything that can hang by a thread at 65 miles an hour with three fewer legs than it is supposed to have—well, let’s just say I like its chances. I will never know what happened, where it landed, but I learned a lesson or two from car spider. I think a little more carefully about where I tread, how heavily my footprint might fall. That doesn't mean I will never step on an ant, or that I won't kill a black widow in my territory. But I will be thoughtful about it.
Most of all, car spider taught me perspective. No matter what I go through, it will no doubt pale in comparison to being a triple amputee clinging to the edge of a moving vehicle and staying put. That’s resiliance.
Whatever life you may have, car spider, current or future, I wish you well. You deserve it.