went out to the trash container last week. At our condos, we have the big gray dumpsters with sliding black doors. You hope your neighbors shut them but occasionally the door is left open.

Crazy things happen when you are in a hurry. I slid the door open and wound up to toss the trash bag in and out jumps a big rat! Man, was that critter ugly.

I must admit I have not seen many rats in my life. Up north, I suppose they freeze but I saw this long, hairless tail and I jumped back. Wouldn’t you know in the process I hooked my trash bag on the door latch and, of course, its contents went all over the place.

“Great,” I thought. Here I was trying to get to work and now I will smell like the landfill.

Next thing I know, this rat hits the ground about 5 feet away and tips over dead. What the heck? Has the rat never seen someone with Scandinavian heritage before? I thought great, one more thing to take care of. I picked up the trash, and the rat lay dead by the trash can. I thought I better go get a pair of gloves from my car; I didn’t want the kids at the condo to have to deal with this critter. 

Off to the car I go and about halfway there I hear something. That rat got up and took off. It had been playing dead.

When I got to work and was telling the folks about my experience, our office manager Angela piped up and said, “How big was it?”

I said, “From head to tail about 24 inches.”

“You have just met your first opossum,” she told me.

My first opossum, played me — or should I say played possum? Welcome to the South.

Steve Baker is president and publisher at Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.