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Relentless. The challenges, pressures, demands, expectations, and potential pitfalls fill the daily path of everybody.  There are rarely days without facing a confrontation or having to make a decision that has the potential of leaving all parties unhappy or receiving a call to help in an urgent matter that cannot be postponed. 

Every person has that one “somebody or situation” that we have to face on repeated occasions because they are part of the network of our occupation or social contacts.  Their personality is not compatible with our own.  We wish that we could avoid interaction with them altogether, but it is just part of what we are expected to do.  When the required investment of time is “at hand”, we may feel tense and apprehensive.  Why?  Because sometime the meetings are very tense and even bordering on aggravation.  Seemingly, no matter how hard we prepare our minds and hearts to be congenial and positive, that is not always the desire of the other party. 

In those types of situations, we feel like we are in a struggle that just will not let us go.  The more we seek to be agreeable, the more we sense that we are under attack.  It may even seem that the other person delights in making us uncomfortable and even finds joy in knowing that as they continually say things that are snide or caustic, we are ever seeking a way to disengage and get out of the meeting. 

While hunting deer in the Tehama Wildlife Area near Red Bluff in northern California, Jay Rathman climbed to a ledge on the slope of a rocky gorge. As he raised his head to look over the ledge above, he sensed movement to the right of his face. A coiled rattler struck with lightning speed, just missing Rathman’s right ear. The four-foot snake’s fangs got snagged in the neck of Rathman’s wool turtleneck sweater, and the force of the strike caused it to land on his left shoulder. It then coiled around his neck. He grabbed it behind the head with his left hand and could feel the warm venom running down the skin of his neck, the rattles making a furious racket. He fell backward and slid headfirst down the steep slope through brush and lava rocks, his rifle and binoculars bouncing beside him.

 “As luck would have it,” he said in describing the incident to a Department of Fish and Game official, “I ended up wedged between some rocks with my feet caught uphill from my head. I could barely move.” He got his right hand on his rifle and used it to disengage the fangs from his sweater, but the snake had enough leverage to strike again. “He made about eight attempts and managed to hit me with his nose just below my eye about four times. I kept my face turned so he couldn’t get a good angle with his fangs, but it was very close. This chap and I were eyeball to eyeball and I found out that snakes don’t blink. He had fangs like darning needles…I had to choke him to death. It was the only way out. I was afraid that with all the blood rushing to my head I might pass out.” When he tried to toss the dead snake aside, he couldn’t let go; “I had to pry my fingers from its neck.”

Rathman, 45, who works for the Defense Department in San Jose, estimates his encounter with the snake lasted 20 minutes. Warden Dave Smith says of meeting Rathman: “He walked toward me holding this string of rattles and said with a sort of grin on his face, I’d like to register a complaint about your wildlife here.'”   (Copied).