Every day my alarm clock goes off at 5:55 a.m. I squint at it and it looks like 'SSS'. Like a snake's hiss. It reminds me to be a snake.

I get out of bed and I go to the bathroom. In the light of dawn and of the streetlight outside my apartment window, I see my face in the mirror. My lip rings glint in my lower lip like two fangs. Sss.

I'm not crazy. I just have my totem animal, everybody needs something to get them through the day, right? It's not like I actually think I'm a snake. It's a frame of mind. Snake imagery, cool, cunning, calculating, a bit cold-blooded. Aloof, which spoils the alliteration.

So I dress in green and black and I hit the road. Snake colors? Nah, just the uni. Fifteen minutes walking to the train station. On the train I'm a small snake inside a big one. (OK, so snakes don't bear live young or anything. It's just an image to think about instead of getting all clostro.) I look around at the people on the train. I turn my head slowly and scan around, giving them the snake look. They're mammals, mostly, rabbits and mice, meekly waiting for their stops. Sometimes someone gives me the snake look back. We nod. (I wish I had nictitating membranes to flick at them.)

I like to give snake eyes to shapely women, or to really muscular men, not that you see many of those on the train. Not because I'm a perv. The snake just likes the curves.

Some people are visibly creeped out by the tattoo or the piercings, or the big scar down my right arm. But I'm straight, they don't need to flinch from me. Maybe their mammal brains sense the snake within.

At work they call me Snake, except for Betty the World's Oldest Cashier who calls me 'green snake' or 'garter snake'. My buds sometimes say "Snake! We heard you was dead!" Hell of a movie. Always good for a laugh. My first manager at the store made me wear my Actual Name on my shirt. When the next guy came everyone was already calling me Snake. That's how the badge reads now.

When a new manager starts, he'll say "Now, uhm, ... Snake. You're pretty well paid." by which he means "overpaid". So I say "Look, I'm never late, I'm never drunk, I'm never high, I'm never sick. I don't take smoke break. I know where everything is, where everything goes, what's in stock, out of stock, new stock, old stock, on order, on special, discontinued. I know how to do every job in the store and there's no job I won't do." Pretty much true too, if the train's on time.

I won't work the Deli counter since my accident. That's how I got the scar, looks a lot like hesitation marks. Gets me a certain street cred some places. But it was just an accident. Got a few months off on insurance to recuperate and do physio. I read a lot.

I like to read. I'm a lot smarter than I look to the mammals. At the store they all know I can fix or figure anything. And I can do any job, even cash, when they let me work the graveyard shift. Maybe they figure the snake'll scare away trouble, though the most trouble we get is raccoons in the dumpsters.

I'm always in the store correcting the signs. Can't anybody spell, or use an apostrophe? "Bean's" it'll say. For God's sake! The greengrocer's apostrophe is alive and well in our store. One former manager used to say "Boy" (ever work for someone who called you 'boy'?) "Boy, look at the clientele. Do you think they give a rat's ass about the punk-chew-ay-shun?" I think he'd mess it up just to piss me off. He didn't last too long. Good riddance.

I get employee discount. I like to bring home a box of those little meatballs covered in gravy, like IKEA makes, and 'wave 'em. Then the snake can pretend they're little mammals and swallow them up whole. Can't do that with too many though, they sit in your gut like little rocks.

Then a bit of light reading and set the alarm, off to bed, ready for another day in the life of Snake.

There's already a user snake but s/he doesn't write. It's OK. I can easily don another mask here.