So I plopped the books into my car and scurried back to my student's front door.
"Did you forget something? It looks like we got the table cleared off."
"Um, do you have a pair of kitchen tongs I could borrow? I need to rescue a snake."
"Are you insane?! Wait, no, I'm sorry, I don't mean insane. I mean, I mean, are you serious?!"
"It's okay. You're not the first person who's ever asked that question." I explained why I was indeed serious.
"It's a snake"
My student's family, like most of my client families, is from India. "Oh, wait a minute," I said. "The snakes your parents grew up with are venomous and terrifying. Okay. We don't have snakes like that around here. There are only two kinds of poisonous snakes in New Jersey. This little guy just eats crickets, I promise."
"Come take a look at him."
No kitchen tongs were forthcoming, which is probably just as well, because my student's mother would have had reason to be even more distressed about the snake than her son was. I had to cajole the panicked snake onto a sheaf of papers to get him up off the street. Fascinated, the kid held the flashlight on his keychain to light my work for me.
"Aha, I have you now!" I said as I deposited the snake in my client family's yard. And then realized I had deposited it in my client family's yard. "Well, now you won't have as many crickets sneaking into your basement when the winter weather comes."