Inspiration Pigeons ain’t civilized
By Charles Towne
I don’t like cities. Cities are cold and heartless.
I have never been mugged in a city but I have been embarrassed. The next worst thing to being mugged is to be embarrassed.
In my full and eventful life, I have had a couple of city embarrassments that came very close to being fatal. (Whoever originated the word ‘embarrass’ certainly was a good wordsmith. Break it down to its two root words and you will note that it refers to that common condition of being caught with your pants down.)
The following spine-tingling embarrassment could never have happened in the country. Late one night I was driving through a city. The name of the city does not matter. It was just one of those generic, cities that have been planted across this land of ours to arbitrarily break up the wilderness. This was done so that we outdoor types would not become used to too much beauty and suffer a terminal case of B.B.B. otherwise known among savvy outdoor persons as “Bountiful Beauty Breakdown.’”
As I was saying, I was driving through a city late one dark night and suddenly was overwhelmed by a desperate need to find a gas station!
“Woe is me oh Lord for I am in great and dire need!”
But at that point I was not being heard for there was no gas station with its accompanying restroom providentially provided. Oh, there were gas stations all right, lots of them, but they mocked me for they were either closed or they had signs in their windows with the words, BATHROOM OUT OF ORDER! Yes, it was a conspiracy.
As I drove along my need escalated from demanding to desperate and then from desperate to darned near disastrous.
You can wipe that shocked expression off your face because I know that you have been there!
Being quite observant I noted an abundance of large trees lining the street and understanding that the good Lord put trees here for just such emergencies I pulled to the curb intending to… well, you know.
A police cruiser pulled in behind me with flashing blue lights! The officer, obviously bored and thinking I was some dangerous felon, bellowed over his loudspeaker, “O.K. You in the car! Put your hands on top of your head and exit the vehicle!” Hey, that’s a good trick. Have you ever tried to open your car door with your knees? It can’t be done!
Due to all the ruckus and with the flashing blue lights and the officer bellowing on that infernal loudspeaker of his, the sidewalk along that nice quiet street soon contained roughly two dozen night-robed, pajama-clad, and very curious citizens.
The technical name for a group of people as I have just described is known as a ‘hostile’.
This particular hostile had appeared out of nowhere! It was strange, all those people in their robes and ‘jammies, something out of Rod Serling’s, “The Twilight Zone.”
I mean, not that many men in the world wear pajamas! Do they?
I tried to quietly explain my emergency to the officer but he insisted that I, “speak louder!” I did. Everybody heard me!
The officer declared, “Well, we can’t have folks peeing in the street, we have ordinances against that!” Everybody heard him! One of the members of the “hostile” hissed, “Pervert!”
I’m sorry, all I wanted to do was pee!
The officer informed me with a cruel and fiendish grin on his face that there was an all-night bus station about ten miles down the road. “You can use the restroom there.”
He should have added, “If you can make it!”
As I was getting into my car that ominous, and anonymous voice hissed once more from the sidewalk, ”PERVERT!”
Yes, It was a very hostile, hostile!
Now if you were in the same situation and you needed help I would like to think that I would be sympathetic.
I would open my home to you and say something like, “I understand exactly how you feel, you come right in and use our facilities. There is a good fellow.” (Or maybe not.) That heartless, hostile horde of pajama wearing twits, knowing my discomfort went back to their homes, with their nice restrooms without offering this traveler one drop of sympathy. I say a pox on them all! The police officer escorted me to the bus station and then went forth to harass some other tinkler in the night.As swiftly as possible, taking little baby steps due to the severity of my condition, I walked into the bus station, not a person in sight.
There, way on the other side of the terminal beckoning to me were the promised restrooms. Relief was in sight! (And by the way, terminal was a very good name for the bus stop considering my condition.) Oh, oh, No urinals! Only pay toilets, and me with no change!
I couldn’t wait, desperate situations call for desperate measures.
There happened to be a space of about eighteen inches under the door of each stall. The floor being relatively clean I dropped to my knees and began crawling under the door.
Halfway into the stall, something stopped me. A screw on the bottom hinge assembly was loose and it had snagged my jacket preventing any further progress either forward or back. I was trapped!
I was crouching there, a most uncomfortable position if you are wondering, endeavoring to free myself from my predicament when suddenly the place was filled with sound! Voices, lots of voices! Footsteps, lots of footsteps! A bus had arrived.
The restroom door banged open. One minute I was all by my lonesome and the next thing I knew I was surrounded! They were all trying to figure out what I was doing down there.
Someone asked, “Is he dead?” Somebody else ventured, “Nah, just drunk,” while someone else hissed, “Pervert!”
They all had quarters!
I don’t know who the guy was that invented toilets that flush automatically but one thing I can tell you, he was one sick individual!
I was kneeling there minding my own business when it seemed that every toilet in the place flushed. Thank goodness my toilet was not plugged up. But the next one was!
Someone called a cop to take care of the “drunk” in the restroom, and It turned out to be the same officer of my previous embarrassment.
He walked in, took one look, and burst out laughing.
He really wasn’t a bad sort though for he unhooked me and gave me a quarter.
Yes, he was after all a gentleman.
Not only are most city people heartless but city animals are a lot nastier than country animals. Let me illustrate. Never have I had an evil bird encounter in the country.
As a naturalist and wildlife photographer I have been bat dived, crow cussed, hawkbit, owl clawed, and puked on by a vulture, (that was a nice experience) and otherwise tormented by all sorts of country birds while in the course of photographing them in their natural habitat.
But only in the city have the birds ever been so contemptuous as to use me as a walking bombing range.
Pigeons, pigeons everywhere! Some cities have more than their share of pigeons and accompanying pigeon problems.
And by the way, a large group of pigeons, up to a thousand in number, should be called a ‘poop’. Some cities it could be said have by some estimates several hundred poops of pigeons.
I was walking down the street one day minding my own business when out of the blue, I was suddenly assaulted!
Have you ever been dive-bombed by a pigeon?
About two days later, on the same street it was my dubious honor to be the recipient of another gift from on high. Yes, that is right, again I was ground zero!
So now you know why I do not like cities. Give me the wild places anytime. You can always find a tree to hide behind and the animals are much more civilized and it is unlikely that you will be accosted by a pesky and pestiferous poop of pernicious pigeons.
AN OUTDOORSMAN’S PRAYER OF GRATITUDE
Dear Lord, thank you for giving me the ability to laugh at myself as well as the more dire and difficult situations in life. Yes, our existence on this old earth can be challenging if not downright ugly at times, but then, it is after all life. Please Help each of us Papa God to endure the doubtful, tolerate the difficult and accept the dubious with grace. It is difficult for me in my humanity to understand and accept what your word tells me when it declares that “all things work together for good to those that love you” but, you say it, therefore I believe it. I thank you Father for all the wonderful gifts you give me. Praise you Papa God, praise you, o worthy One, In Jesus’ wonderful and blessed name I ask it, Amen
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.