After ten years with corn snakes, I have been enjoying my king snake (another rescue from the pound). She seemed, if anything, more tolerant of me than even the sweet tempered corns. She is an alert, active snake, often looking at me with interest from her cage, and settling against my body when I pick her up.
I did notice when I fed her that she has a ferocious prey strike. Unlike the corn snake, who will gently take the rat from my palm.
I was in a hurry tonight. I'm leaving for Portland in the morning and I haven't packed yet. The king's cage had to be cleaned and it was one more chore to be fitted into a busy evening. I moved too quickly and grabbed her, and felt those tiny needles in my palm. I told her I was sorry and we rocked in front of the fireplace for a while until we both calmed down.
My brother-in-law often asks about the "secret of life". He tells a long story about one of his brothers who, in response to this question, answered "When you are offered a booth or a table always take the table". Or maybe it was the other way 'round. (This reminds me of Jackie Mason's routines about the Jews and the Gentiles in the restaurant).
The last time he asked me I told him "Never run from the bear".
Now I think "Don't rush the snake" is almost as good as a motto.