June goes outdoors, gets brutally attacked, returns to being avid indoorswoman

Yesterday was one of those harrowing days where it’s extra busy. Two copy editors called in sick, and I’d already had a full day of my own work to do, so what I did was hide in the basement.

I work in an old mill, so the building is I think at least 100 years old. We call the ground floor “The Garden Level,” which, who are we kidding. For the first six years at my work I was on “The Garden Level,” and because of it’s basement-ness, occasionally one might see mice, or cockroaches, and once even a snake. Because garden. The June garden level.

Most of us work on the other two floors above now, but when I need to work uninterrupted I sneak down there and go into an empty office and shut the door.

I don’t know what it is about me, but I seem to be more chatted with than anyone else around me. Do I seem welcoming? I do not. Am I a good listener? I am not. And yet? “Hey, June! How was your weekend?” “Hey, June, did you buy a new car?” “Say, June, the fact that you have your headphones on and a job that requires absolute concentration and also you have ADD so any time you get interrupted you have to start all over again is IRRELEVANT to me! How was your trip to the bathroom?”

This is why I head to “The Garden Level” when things get tense.

And tense it was. I worked as hard as I could till about 12:30, and I knew I needed to rest my eyes, as it were. So I headed out the door and down to the greenway. We are lucky enough to work right next to a park, and all you have to do is go down this woodsy brushy nature path where I have seen snakes 47 times, and then boom, you’re out of the brush and onto a walkway in the park. Where I have also seen snakes.

I usually only walk that path at 3:00 with my other coworkers who I figure would wrestle a snake to the death if need be, but I was tense and I needed a break, so I was The Lone Outdoorswoman for a bit.

I walked for about 20 minutes through the park and headed back through the brush to The Garden Level, level of quiet and offices with doors. There are seriously about five people still working down there anymore. It’s great.

I got back to my fake desk and commenced working when moments later I heard

“zzzt! ZZZZzt zzzzt!”

“What was that,” I thought. It sounded really close.

“ZZZZZzzzzt!”

I realize snakes don’t zzzzt, but I was still sort of nervous. I leaped out of my chair dramatically, worried I’d see behind me a cockroach convention brought to you by the letters Z and T or something, but

“OW!”

Instead? Something stung me on my back.

“ZZZzzzzt!” it said, and right then I knew.

IT

WAS

ON

ME.

“AAAACCKKKK!” I screeched screechily, and I am happy to announce this was my first work scream ever. “ACCCCCK!!” I flailed around, trying to figure out what was on me when

“OW!”

It stung me again! GodDAMMIT!

I know your impression is that I’m a cool cucumber and a picture of professional decorum at work, but what I did right then was

SCREECH

out of that office with my hair afire and a monkey on my back, biting me. I screeched into the room where the five people still work. Three of them were gathered around a computer, like the Three Indifferent Men. Except one was a woman.

“DIDN’T YOU HEAR ME SCREAM?” I screamed, and everyone indifferently looked up from whatever was so riveting on the screen, the Baby Jesus webcam or whatever.

“Yeah.” One of the men said indifferently. “We did hear a scream. Was that you?”

“Maybe it’s because you’re the boy who cried wolf,” said my mother later, when I regaled her with this harrowing tale. Mom forgets that I get to decide what kind of home she goes into.

“Is something wrong?” the woman in the crowd finally said. Let me tell you. If you’re being murdered in The Garden Level, don’t bother to scream, because everyone will just go on with their day.

“THERE’S A CREATURE ON ME AND IT’S STINGING ME,” I shrieked, and why did all my shrillness affect NO ONE?

“Oh my god!” she said, finally impressed. “Let’s go into the office and lift your shirt and see if we can find it.”

And that is how my poor coworker L saw me in the altogether from the waist up, like a centaur. Except as soon as I ripped my shirt off,

“OW!!”

the damn thing bit me on the hand!

“OH MY GOD!” we caterwauled, and at this point, I was actually starting to panic. Because we saw NOTHING, and yet I kept getting stung, and I pictured some disgruntled reader, fmr., or boyfriend, fmr., with a voodoo doll.

I had a jaunty cardigan with me as well, so I put that on with shaky hands because I FEARED MY SHIRT like some fear the reaper. We looked for some sort of cream in the first aid box. If you need alcohol pads, you’re all set with that first aid kit. Ear piercings for everyone! Bug cream? Not so much. It’s like they didn’t anticipate some invisible stinging bug endlessly attacking a copy editor or something.

And that is why I shakily drove home in a cardigan in the middle of a June afternoon, and smeared Benedryl cream all over self, waited for anaphylactic shock, changed into a nonbuggy shirt, then returned to work because trouper and because all the other copy editors had already dropped like flies, stinging flies. I was worried Mr. Zzzzt, over there, star of The Sting, was still waiting eagerly for me, drinking a Stinger in The Garden Level, so I went back to my actual desk.

Word had already gotten out re my fate.

“You know,” said my coworker S, “my dad was cutting the grass once and felt little bites or stings like that and it turns out it was a black widow. We had to rush him to the ER.”

“Or maybe it was a brown recluse. Except yours seemed really pretty outgoing, what with stinging you three times and making all that noise,” said my annoying coworker Fewks. “It was a brown socialite.”

“Will you two shut up?” I said. “If either one of you considers volunteering at a crisis line, I won’t write you a letter of recommendation.”

Oh, they guffawed and carried on and made Sting jokes and generally loved themselves long time.

“I wonder what L will bill her time to for those 10 minutes she got to see me in the altogether?” I joked wanly, trying to be lighthearted despite my brutal attack because that’s the kind of hero I am.

I tried to return to my loads of work and put the whole biting incident behind me, particularly because two out of three of the bites WERE behind me, but Fewks, over there, was just warming up the dinner crowd.

“Hey, June, do you have a minute? I just want to put a bug in your ear,” he said, then got a ladder so he could elope with himself.

Anyway, I ended up living, if you want to call this living, and I still have no idea what attacked me so mercilessly and I hope I don’t turn into whatever kind of bug or rodent or snake or panther it was that bit me.

But if I do, the first place I’m going is Fewks’s house.

Bitingly,
JuneBug

71 thoughts on “June goes outdoors, gets brutally attacked, returns to being avid indoorswoman

  1. Late to the party, but I lovelovelove this post. I laughed out loud- but yet at the same time was riveted to find out what it was, all the while feeling sorry for you. So, it was rather like a good, funny mystery. Please just publish your book already!

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  2. When I read your chilling attack teaser on Instagram last night all I could think of was your descriptions of your new hood and the ghetto lion and I was certain your were mugged or worse. Damn my brain which is half full on fantasy world and half way too literal. Bug bites/stings suck but not as badly as muggings or rapes so I for one am relieved. Sorry I didn’t screech over here more quickly (quicker? Which is better) but my stupid phone is acting up today and the phone keeps ringing too. May your stings heal quickly, pretty shirtless Joon. BOOBS at work!

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  3. Your storytelling was sooo funny! But sorry you got stung! In Arizona, at least where I live, (up north a little) we have a new bug almost every day. This week it was one about an inch long… that was kind of a lazy flyer – but there were a thousand of them on the back of the house yesterday! Then last night I went out on the front porch and obviously, there were some there – and they BITE! So I splashed my clear calamine lotion all over and had to stay in the house. What is the point of nice cool evenings when you can’t go outside! Oh well. Sigh.

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  4. Hilarious post–can hardly wait til my next break to see the comments. June, when I’m having a bad day, I like to curl up with the literary equivalent of comfort food, like children’s books I loved. May I suggest Beverly Cleary’s BEEzus and Ramona?

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  5. Love themseves longtime- awesome. Being stung- not awesome. Coworker seeing you in the all together- hilarious. June, are you 87 years old? The all together?! Love it though.

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  6. We must explain to HR that our office needs to stock bleach, Campho-Phenique, alcohol, eucalyptus oil, and lemon oil. (Thank you, Gladys BEE.) Also, June, I apologize for not being there to share the abject, quivering terror I display in the possible presence of yellowjackets.

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  7. I get mysterious bites all the time, but none of them say “zzzzt!” So I feel for ya. I should post some time about the time a lizard went up my pants and stayed a while. So sorry this happened to you, but you made it hilarious.

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  8. Being attacked by the stinging unknown is a nightmare. Is it bad that we are all laughing at your telling of the episode or good that we find your writing delightful?

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  9. OH MY GOD! I would have been freaking out so hard.
    One time that kinda happened to me; I was by the pool talking to my sister on the phone, and I felt this OW OW OW on my stomach. And I kind of brushed something away and then felt that the something was… HEAVY… and heard a zzzt. and it was a HORNET. That had stung me THROUGH MY SWIMSUIT. Owwwww.

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  10. The south is truly the Australia of the U.S. Everything wants to kill you. I believe you deserve some kind of award for valor from your company. So glad you survived!

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  11. Harrowing post, Coot!

    First and foremost. If you get bit, stung, flogged or what have you mix 1 part bleach and 2 parts water apply with gauze or cotton ball to said bite. This neutralizes the poison. Trust me this works. I was attacked by a rogue brown recluse spider, who was not being reclusive at all, and the doctor for whom I worked grabbed me, dragged me to the supply closet and poured straight bleach on me. Then rushed me to the ER. He informed me bleach will neutralize most poisonous bites.
    Second and not upmost, Campho-Phenique will help take the pain out of the bit AFTER you have applied bleach and made sure you aren’t going to die or turn into Peter Parker.
    Third and not lastly a mixture of alcohol, eucalyptus oil, and lemon oil sprayed all over your body will thwart bees, flees, flies, mosquitos and some men.
    I hope you survive and next time take Alan Quartermain with you when you venture into the jungle.

    P.S. Please don’t slap me with a liver for all the unsolicited advice or if you do make it chicken liver as I do not eat beef or swine.

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  12. Ugh! You poor thing! I thought for sure there were going to be snakes attacking you, since you’ve seen them everywhere, but I’m guessing you would have noticed if a snake was in your shirt.

    Wait. That sounds dirty.

    What did you do with the shirt you were wearing? I’d be inclined to burn it, just to be sure that the invisible waspspiderbitingstingingvampirething was dead. You don’t want something like that to have a chance to breed!

    Also echoing other people in that I wouldn’t have been able to focus at all at work after that kind of trauma. I can’t believe you went back.

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  13. How awful for you. I’m glad you lived to tell the tale. After your bites and/or voodoo doll stickpins and subsequent return to your desk, how were you able to concentrate on your work? You are indeed a trouper.

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  14. I’m sorry for your scare but you made it so funny! As did your coworkers! 😂😂😂 Glad you are still alive to write about your day!

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  15. I can rule one thing out , it wasn’t a honey bee , they can only sting once. They leave their stinger in you.
    Probably a wasp. Those devils can sting as many times as they want.
    Check the top you were wearing it may be wadded up in it yet.

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        • I was thinking of a sweat bee also. They are nasty. And June had just been out on a walk so she was possibly glowing (remember horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies glow). So a sweat bee might have landed on her and gone inside with her. A terrible experience.

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  16. First, this is horrible. The stuff nightmares are made of.
    PTSD for sure. You have ALL my sympathy and I’ll drum up some to cover what you didn’t get from the heartless people that work with you.

    The storytelling of it, however, was magnificent. The ladder to elope with himself was a favorite of mine.

    I’m going to say some horrible flying creature since it was able to move so quickly. Something straight outta hell.

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  17. The great outdoors is full of all sorts of biting, stinging things. A few years back, I was wearing cute sandals to church and a spider leapt on my foot in the church parking lot and sank its fangs into me. Felt like a wasp sting. I kicked off my sandal, spider and all. My daughter stomped the spider before I could check its credentials (Interview question 1: “I see you are a brown spider. Are you reclusive?”)
    I kept waiting to see if I developed any spider characteristics, but I never was able to sling webs or anything. *disappointed* I did, however, have literal FANG marks on my foot for weeks. Tiny little vampire fang marks.

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  18. Yeeurgh that’s an upsetting story!

    I’m usually a very chill person and the only public squawking I’ve done in my life was when a wasp got tangled in my hair. Hearing it angtilly BzzZzztttTTT! near my ear while trying to tilt my head so my hair fell away from my face while my friends also shrieked and were not able to bring themselves to intervene. Bleurgh.

    Let me know if you are interested in setting up a support group.

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  19. Hi June,
    If that happened to me, I’d “bee” wearing a bee suit whenever I went outside. I’m sorry that happened to you. I am afraid of flying, crawling things with fangs and/or stingers.

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  20. Bet it was a mosquito! They make those zinging noises and they are sneaky as hell! They bite and disappear into the atmosphere. Plus, this year they are thick as thieves.
    Sorry you had to be attacked from behind. Hope you’re better today and non-itchy.

    Capelover

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  21. A story with bite! One that leaves you itching for more! You put the buzzzzz in my morning!

    Poor June! I can’t think of a single thing that would invisibly sting you again and again. Did you check your shirt for nettles?

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  22. It could have been a bee if some type with the zzzzzt sounds being made by said critter. Just keep an eye on the stings and if the center starts to turn white or yellow you might need to seek additional medical help. I’m so sorry. I’m not afraid of bugs, spiders, bees (snakes are another story), but I would be freaking out while being stung.

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  23. I saw your post on Instagram last night and sincerely hoped you were attacked by kittens. Alas, the mystery stinging, biting, knifing (at work, no less) assailant is awful. I’m sorry for your terror.

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  24. USUALLY I am driving now and wouldn’t see your post but today I have the dreaded annual physical and am going to work later. So I am wasting time on my computer at home and thank GOD because here you are. But we don’t know what bit you? How can you leave us hanging? I am horrified that this happened and will never set foot in the Great Outdoors again. I’m a city kid by nature anyway.

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  25. When I saw the headline I just knew it was gonna be Edsel bowling you over in your own yard or some such. This is much worse! The fact that you couldn’t find what it was is the thing that would make me lose it. How are your bites today?

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  26. I was a tad angst with the comment that you were being attacked. Congratulations on your decorum as I would have tossed my shirt off right then and there. Boobs be damned. I think you should get some of those fake big, spider, snake toys and start leaving them around the putz pants. A post April fool’s joke or a June fool’s joke.

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  27. Oh June!! That’s so scary and freaky!! I don’t think I would’ve kept it together at all. I probably would have ripped all my clothes off and set everything in the office on fire to kill whatever it was.
    Do you have and kind of welps? Is that a word? Swollen bite things? Sorry, I just woke up and haven’t had coffee

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  28. Oh my god. This post has been up for an hour and no one cares about my attack. You’re all the three coworkers staring at webcam Baby Jesus.

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