Pete went up into the mezzanine to see if we really had what my data base claimed we had. It was our company’s policy to physically prove that we had items in stock before a quote and delivery time was confirmed for a customer.
The mezzanine in our factory is a warehouse built over the ceiling of a large manufacturing room. It creates a second floor where the factory stored packaged, complete and incomplete, parts for aerospace and the communication industries. Some of the packages are on shelves and some of the larger boxes are on pallets arranged in rows numbered one through five.
I designed the data base with the addresses for the parts by part number and location. I also arranged the mezz so that all a person had to do was find the address for the part in the computer, go to that location, pick up the labeled box, do what you have to do, and put it back where you got it when you are done. Pretty easy, right!
Not so easy!
I’d been telling the management for years about all of the spiders up there. I knew that during the summer, Daddy Long Legs would be everywhere because the lighting up in the mezz attracted all of the insect food these spiders needed to grow, spin webs, and procreate. Besides being spooky, it was hard to keep the place clean. When you squash them, they leave a grease spot.
Everyone who went up there knew they were there, but the management ignored my complaints. I didn’t dare spray poison because the spray would get all over the customers boxes. I finally convinced them to buy a vacuum cleaner for me using “cleanup” as the purchase order excuse. They went for that!
Whenever I had time, I would go ‘spider suckin’.
I’d put the upholstery end on that two and a half inch, eight foot extension, turn it on, and start vacuuming all of the spiders, webs, and liquid meal carcasses. It would take several trips to get most of them and clean up the aisles so the people going up there wouldn’t freak out. Unfortunately, because of all the stacks of boxes on pallets, the spaces under the pallets and all of the tall shelving, I couldn’t get them all. There was always “seed stock” to start the next generation.
This worked fine until the temperature dropped in the fall. The food insect population would drop, so with very little food, the spiders I didn’t suck up began to eat each other.
Finally, about November, there would be only one big spider. She would be the mother of all big spiders.
I warned Pete and each of the others, when they went up there in the winter, to be careful and watch their back. I warned them about the one big spider whenever I saw them heading up the stairs. They all laughed at me except one guy who’d turn around and go back where he came from, up in the front offices. Those guys were wusses and I didn’t want them up there anyway. They thought they ran everything.
Pete had been warned, and he ignored me with a “ya Ron” snicker. When he came back down later, he was walking a little stiff legged and his complexion was a little whiter than usual. His eyes were glazed over a little bit, but he was still grinning. I was the only one who ever noticed because I knew what I was looking for.
This is what happened! While he was examining the part, the Mother of all Spiders bit him and sucked out some of his vital fluids. In the saliva of the Mother, is a toxin that makes you forget you’ve been bitten. She’s smart too. She only takes enough to help her survive one more day. If someone goes up there once a day, she’d have nutrition for the whole winter.
I saw the same thing happen to Dave and Frank. Frank had plenty of fluids to give so it didn’t seem to bother him too much. He also had two bad knees so walking stiff legged did not draw attention. He was the perfect meal.
Dave however rode bicycle every day and had a cocked eye. When he came down, his eye would be off to the side a little more and he would walk stiff legged a little bit sideways, like John Wayne. I think when his blood was sucked; it messed up the hydraulics in his joints and legs. I’m not sure about the eye part!
I told the front end of this factory what was going on and they patronized me and acted like I was nuts, so I stopped telling them.
When I went up, I knew the places where she hung out. I would pick up the broom handle I always had lying around and quickly retrieve the part I needed, and then get the heck out of there. More often than not, I would make an excuse and send one of those other guys. You know survival of the fittest and all of that!
I probably should have killed the beast with that stick. I can’t tell you why I didn’t except maybe I liked the challenge of surviving. After all, she’d never gotten close to me. I also didn’t trust myself to do battle anymore. My reaction time has slowed some and my legs aren’t as strong as they used to be. My doctor said I am a little anemic and needed to take it easy.
Pete, Dave, and Frank only had to survive about three months because it would warm up sometime in February and the food insect count would rise. When that happened, the Mother of all Spiders would lay the eggs she’d been incubating all winter. There would be so many eight legged babies, they would kill and eat her for their first meal, before they dispersed.
It was their “circle of life” I guess. Those young ones would have young ones and on and on, until it began to get cold again. Then, the toughest of all of the female spiders would become The Mother of all Spiders. It would start all over again.
I retired in October. The owner’s kids wanted to absorb my data base and the inventory into the new manufacturing program. They began to change everything. I’d been working fifty two years and was tired of labor and the politics, so I seized the opportunity. It’s time for the “new school” to take over. Besides, I wanted to write short stories. This was my chance.
Pete and Dave probably aren’t that far behind me because they were looking pretty emaciated when I left. Frank is still there. He is only fifty-nine and has plenty of fluids left, although; he can’t make it up the stairway too well because of his knees. He may be the one to watch what happens and tell me the story someday. If he tries to tell anyone else, he won’t be believed either!
The “new school” bunch was bragging about how clean the place looked as they were finally putting up the shelving I’d asked for five years earlier. Everything will go fine for a while.
I can tell you, no matter how much they clean, up in a corner, between a rafter and some insulation, there sits at least one pro-creator watching all the hub-bub with all of those spider eyes, and five hundred little “long legs” eggs in a nice little bundle, waiting for spring. Things will change!
I can’t wait!