At one time or another, most of us have had unwanted varmints show up inside of our homes or businesses. Some of them, such as large beetle bugs or an occasional cricket, really don’t bother me very much. 

I can live without spiders. I don’t like them at all. OK, they do scare me a little, but I can step on them or spray them with bug killer and the problem is solved. 

Mice give me the creeps, but an inexpensive trap and a dab of cheese usually ends that situation. I dislike mice so much that I won’t even remove them from the trap. I just dispose of the entire thing and buy a new trap each time. 

But the critter I dislike worst of all is a snake. Dislike is an understatement. I totally despise snakes.  I don’t care what kind of snake it is, as far as I am concerned, they are all deadly and dangerous. 

I never try to kill them. Not because I want to preserve their lives, I’m just not brave enough to get near them. I once had a small rattlesnake coiled up near my foot.  I was holding a rifle at the time, but I was too scared to even try to shoot it. Not being very skilled with guns, I probably would have shot my foot instead and then been bitten. It eventually got bored with me and crawled off. 

But since snakes live outdoors, I rarely see one. I have never run across a snake here in the city.

Until today.

Here at the CourierTraveler, my nice safe, COVID-19 free workplace in Ark City, a snake somehow got inside our building. It was laying near the doorway of the ladies room. 

OK, it wasn’t a big snake, it was a baby bull snake and I was told that  it was not dangerous. But it was still a snake and that was more than enough for me. I know that even a baby snake can bite.

One of my co-workers caught it. I’m still trying to decide whether he was very brave, or totally crazy. He held it, casually looked it over, and said it was a baby bull snake. He took it off to some new location where it could slither about to its hearts content. I’m just glad he got it out of here. He said he took it a mile away. I think 10 miles would have been much better. 

Another co-worker said her father had always told her that where there is one snake, you would find two. That’s not very comforting. I hope the other one doesn’t turn up in the men’s room. 

I know that bull snakes aren’t really dangerous, and I know they are useful. They catch rats and mice and other varmints and keep those populations under control. But I also remember reaching into the nesting boxes in our chicken house when I was a child and finding a big old bull snake who was also gathering eggs. At that point, I didn’t find them very useful.

This is not the first time we have had strange critters come into our building. A few years ago one of the night workers found herself being dive-bombed by a bat.

Jennie Steelman, who works in the composing department in the Arkansas City office, was sitting at her desk, working at the computer when something flew past her. 

Jennie said the bat bombed her several times. She screamed for help, but the press was running and no one could hear her. The bat made another circle, and then headed for the plate-making room, which was the last place she wanted it to go.

The bat continued to fly around the composing room and finally made its way into the main area of the building where it flew into a plate-glass window.

With the bat now trapped inside the main entryway, pressman Greg Lunquist got a broom and managed to capture it alive.

I haven’t had much experience with bats, but I think I would likely view them the same way I do snakes. 

The Winfield office also has a critter that roams freely about the building. Queso the cat, the office mascot, is a well-known personality in that office. If Queso is anything like the cats I have had in the past, I can imagine that mice and other sorts of unwanted vermin are quickly disposed of. Our farm cats would take on almost anything. 

Hopefully this snake was a once in a lifetime occurrence. I will admit that I now find myself being very cautious when I enter the darker recesses of our building. I don’t want to run into that baby snake’s mommy or daddy. 

If I do, I’ll be headed for the door faster than a bat can fly!


CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or

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