John shows off his spider-rescue skills in the office. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)

John White: The spider whisperer is here to save

I’ve got a thing for trying to save all creatures.

Quick question: How much is a spider’s life worth?

Turns out, $187.50.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.

I’ve got a thing for trying to save all creatures. Some would say I have an overly developed sense of empathy for living things. While the average person would get out a newspaper, roll it up and whack a spider they see hanging out on the wall, I will always try to rescue it.

It usually goes something like this:

My wife: “AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

Me: “What happened? Did you slice off a finger cutting an avocado? Did you drop an anvil on your foot?”

W: “There’s a spider!!!”

M: “Ah.”

I proceed to grab a plastic food container and a stiff piece of paper, usually an envelope. I’ll trap the spider under the food container and slide the paper under him or her until they hop on. I then take the entire package outside and release the little dude on the steps. They quickly toodle off for a life of splendour and I feel at one with nature.

This happens so often, that my wife answered a radio station’s call for weird stories of this ilk, and the DJ dubbed me the “spider whisperer.”

I’m reminded of this as I work to live up to my new superhero nickname as house spider season ramps up.

Just this past weekend I had to rescue a pair of one-third scale tarantula types who were prancing in the hallway. I could actually see fur, they were so ginormous. One had a vanity plate on his butt that read “Fly Swatter.”

While I was coaxing the one onto the paper under the food container, I was actually talking to him/her.

“Come on bud, I’m saving your life here, it’s all good. There are delicious bug bits outside for you to munch on. It’s practically a spider buffet out there, seriously. There you go, that’s it.”

I took him outside, released him and he trundled off to the bush. I think I saw him wave thanks.

This episode takes me back to the most memorable rescue yet.

Late fall, 2015, Edmonton. We go through the above ritual and I’m feeling like a hero, and my wife and I suddenly find ourselves locked out of the house. We accidentally left the handle lock on when we went outside to release the beast. It was 7 a.m. on a Wednesday. We both needed to get ready and leave for work. Oh, and it was freezing out, and we were in T-shirts.

Our neighbour happened to spot us outside, likely overheard our use of HBO language, and came to our rescue.

We explained our “no good deed goes unpunished” tale of woe, and he quickly offered to help.

“Do you need some winter jackets?”

“YES! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

We called a locksmith, who eventually showed up and got us back in, for $187.50. He says you’d be surprised how often people are locked out after releasing spiders.

Once he finished up, we went inside and I happened to look outside as he was getting into his truck. It was the oddest thing: he seemed to bend over and give something to a small object on the sidewalk. Sure enough, when I got closer, I realized he fed the spider a couple of flies as payment for their “arrangement.” I discovered perhaps the greatest grift of all time.

OK, not really, but that would have explained a lot.

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