Snakes at the Water Treatment Plant

By Kent Kuehl

Growing up in the Midwest (Dallas Center, Iowa, to be exact), the only encounter that might pose any danger to an eight year old was the “mad dog” that chased you as you rode down the street on your bicycle. As long as you peddled faster than your buddies, you were safe, soon realizing that you should stay away from that side of town in the future.

Now, fast forward 40+ years . . .

As a sales representative, I have opportunities to travel and explore different geographical areas of the great Midwest.  The state of South Dakota, for example, offers a wide range of beautiful countryside scenery and landmarks such as Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore and the famous Crazy Horse Monument.  While exploring this historical countryside, I also get the pleasure to meet many great, hard-working and honest individuals.

I suspect that one could argue that there is no scarier five-letter word that brings more fear to the average person than the word SNAKE.  When you place the word RATTLE in front of this, the fear becomes twice as alarming.

Being the curious sales representative that I am and never having been to an unknown territory near Platte, South Dakota, I didn’t expect to come across a RATTLESNAKE.  While walking through the plant and analyzing coating failures with the manager and two of his operators of the rural water system, we entered though an office door and noticed some movement on the floor near a door jamb. The movement was unmistakable.  It was a snake. When we looked closer, we realized that it was a RATTLESNAKE that was not backing down and was ready to strike. Even though the little guy was just over a foot long and didn’t pose a real threat, the fear was real.

Remember hearing the phrase, “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them”?  Well, that was not the case in this business meeting.  I have never seen four grown men move faster than lightning.

I have shared this story a few dozen times since it happened and just like a fish story, the RATTLESNAKE keeps getting bigger.  Be safe out there.

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