An embarrassing encounter: Durban snake catcher and 2m black mamba get stuck at toll-gate, without the cash to pay

Jason Arnold with a black mamba. Picture:Supplied

Jason Arnold with a black mamba. Picture:Supplied

Published Nov 24, 2022


Durban - A Durban snake catcher took to social media to pen his experience after he was stuck at the tollgate bridge just outside the King Shaka International Airport because he didn’t have money.

With him was a 2.2m female black mamba that he rescued.

Jason Arnold said he wanted to write about his experience to prevent it from happening to someone else.

Arnold said he was returning from retrieving a black mamba from a home in Tongaat on Wednesday at around 11am.

“I was driving along the R102 from Tongaat and taking a quick detour past the King Shaka Airport, to get down onto the N2 to make my way to my next client in the La-Lucia area who had a snake inside their home.”

Arnold said he was aware there was a tollgate. A wave of panic overcame him as he knew he didn’t have any cash.

“’But no worries,’ I assured myself. I always have coins in my centre console, which I use to tip car guards and petrol attendants. I felt my brief session of stress leave my being.”

However, Arnold searched his car and he found nothing.

“’But even that's not a major issue,‘ I thought, ‘because at least I have my bank card’.

“So, I choose a lane and proceeded up to the boom gate booth where I greet a middle-aged male who's waiting to collect my fee and lift the boom.

“I hand over my card and immediately get a blank look back from the male, and he says: "Sorry, we do not accept debit cards. Only credit cards and cash.’”

Arnold said his heart sank.

“What the hell do I do now? I explained to him that the debit card was all I had and he just looked at me with absolutely zero empathy.

“Cars were now already lining up rapidly behind me and probably wondering why I'm not being allowed through.

“I began to panic a little and felt desperate and anxious, and asked the man what I was supposed to do.

“I thought he would notice my anxiety and just open the boom and allow me through. Instead, he just suggested that I exit my car and approach the people queued behind me and appeal to one of them to help me to pay.

“Absolutely embarrassed beyond measure, I hesitantly approach the male seated in the first car behind me and explained… the situation.

“The man climbs out of his car and hesitantly approaches the man in the booth. He has a brief conversation with the man in the booth and hands over his card, and I feel a sense of relief.

“Another conversation then occurs between my good Samaritan and the boom gate dude, and my Samaritan turns to me and says: ‘I'm sorry, I paid for my toll fee and when I went to swipe my card again to pay for you, the toll gate guy said: "Sorry, you cannot swipe your card twice. Only once!’"

Arnold said he was rather irate and explain to the guy that he runs an emergency service.

“He just tells me that if I'm an emergency vehicle then I should have a tag.”

Arnold reversed his car and sat on the side of the road with the black mamba in the car.

“I ponder driving contra-flow in traffic to get away, thinking it's my only choice, but decide rather to enter the toll booth once again and use a slightly different approach.

“One that puts ‘Mr Toll’ (whom I've now affectionately named) on the spot a bit and forces him to behave and think with some professionalism and empathy.

“Needless to say, I was let through, with a bit of hesitancy and temper tantrums from Mr Toll who moaned about having to pay for me.”

Arnold said he would be back at that toll soon enough and wanted to pay back the R7 to the guy who helped him.

“And probably a few seven rands extra, which I'd like (him)… to put aside and make use of when honest people like me end up in the same predicament.”

Arnold said that after what had seemed like ages, he made his way through to his next rescue.

And the mamba has been released back into nature.

“Far away from the tollgate,” joked Arnold.


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