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Adventures in the Snake Business.

A big part of defining your goals, of knowing where you want to go is knowing where you do not want to go.  How do you know where you don’t want to go?  You have to go there!   One of my biggest misadventures was getting into the business of retailing reptiles.  Now I can say that I’ve been there, done that and get on with my life.

Most of the lizards and snakes in the store either died or escaped.  The ones that sold either died or escaped.   I got bit, pooped on and scratched.  Of course, not all of the customers were that mean.  The reptiles got me broken toes, thrown in jail (another blog post), and just broke.  Probably the snake that broke the camel’s back of my dream-turned-nightmare of a chain of reptile stores was Rita.

Rita was a twelve foot Reticulated Python from Asia.  These pythons are beautiful but have a reputation for being nasty and unpredictable.  Being one of the longest snakes in the world ( over 30 feet) and having a bad temper is an unfortunate combination.   Selling them requires vast amounts of lying, or finding just the right tattooed, doped-up Satan worshiper.  Well, one came into the store and I lied to him.

Just kidding.  Actually, this guy was a tough road worker who had no fear of being bitten by snakes.  In fact, he told me that he caught snakes out in the wild by letting them bite his hand and then grabbing them behind the head with his other hand.

OK.  I had qualified the prospect.  Now go in for the close!  I told him that I had been bitten by Rita twice, she had hundreds of razor sharp teeth, she would definitely try to bite and kill him and he could have her for $100.   Sold!   One hour later, he’s back with his money and a big cage to transport the huge snake to his appreciative family.

The store manager, Forrest, and I were ecstatic that we had finally sold this monster.  Every time that it had to be fed or have its cage cleaned, we would get knots in our stomach.  And the longer we had it, the bigger and meaner it was getting.

All of our anxiety would soon be over.  As we unbolted the four padlocks holding the top of her cage down, Rita got that “I want to eat you” look in her eyes.  Knowing that she would strike at the first movement, I told our new snake owner again, “She will try to bite you!”

This guy thrust his hand in the cage, grabbed her behind the head and then started to pull her out.  I helped by lifting the lower half of her out while repeating the mantra, “She is gonna bite you… she is gonna bite you…”

Then he let go of her head and she bit him.  But she didn’t bite him out of anger or fear.  She just wanted to eat him!  Rita had gotten her jaws right over his fist and then started to wrap her 60 pounds of slithering muscle around this guy as she pulled him to the floor.

Oh, just another day in the reptile business.  My job as salesperson was to keep Rita from wrapping her body around the now slightly agitated  customer’s neck.  Constrictors, like Rita, feed by first seizing the prey (already accomplished), then squeezing until the prey stops breathing (which we were trying to prevent).  Then they release the prey, locate the head and proceed to swallow it whole.  That’s when buyer’s remorse would have set in.

I was determined not to lose this customer.  Forrest closed the door to the room we were in as some people get squeemish when the snakes are fed.  Blood was pouring out of Rita’s mouth where her inventory of teeth had embedded in the now disgruntled customer’s hand.  He kept his cool though.   After a little rubbing alcohol on her gums she let her prey loose and we got her back in the cage.

I sensed that I had lost the sale and my well-honed instincts were right.  He changed his mind.  After wrapping up his bloodied hand, he apologized for the blood stain on the carpet.  He said that it wouldn’t be a good snake for his kids to play with.

After a few more adventures in the reptile business, I rethought my goal of having a chain of reptile stores.  Where is Rita today?  Well, this story has become part of my talk that I give to motivate others to have their own adventures and when I come speak to your organization, I will show you what happened to Rita.  Have fun charging out in the jungle!!  Scott Alexander

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Copyright 2010 by Scott Alexander

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01 2010

4 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. 1

    Scott, this is one of the funniest stories I’ve ever read. And as Mark Twain once said in Huckleberry Finn. Its mostly True. I wish He had been able to read it, He would have bought you a Box of Havana Cigars for enjoying such a Great Laugh.

  2. scott #

    Thank you, Michael! Glad you enjoyed it. Keep charging, my friend!

  3. 3

    Great story…Great Picture….Still would like to know what happened to Rita. We had one this big way back in the day named “Tina”

  4. Paula McInaney #

    You can make even the most horrible things FUNNY … the reptile business was never one I even remotely considered and now know I never will .. no biting customers for me, thank you! 🙂

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