(Fair warning: If birds freak you out, then click here to watch some carrots dance.)
A few years ago, I worked the 3am-1pm shift of my job. Waking up while most of the city was still sleeping meant I was a poster child for sleep deprivation, but I dealt with it by drinking plenty of caffeine. However, being hungry felt absolutely worse than being half asleep on my commute home (don’t worry; I take public transportation). I rarely had time to get anything to eat for lunch, so I was always famished by the time I got home.
One cool, sunny afternoon, I was waiting for my bus and my stomach started making obscene noises. I stood there, looking to the north for any sign of my bus.
Nothing but lunchtime car traffic.
I decided to take a chance and dashed into the Walgreen’s situated on the same corner as the bus stop. I walked straight to the aisle with snacks and picked up a bag of Doritos. Not the little bags that used to cost a quarter when I was in high school. I got the bag that’s supposed to feed three people, but no one ever shares. I also grabbed a bottle of Powerade and went to the cashier. There was no line and no waiting, so the whole trip took about five minutes. I was elated, mentally doing a victory dance.
As I was leaving the store, my bus pulled away from the curb.
Rather than let myself get angry, I partook of my Doritos and hoped that another bus would soon pull up. After crunching through a few chips, I noticed a dark grey pigeon pecking near my feet. It was missing one of its feet, so it was hobbling around on an orange stomp. Suffice to say, I felt sorry for the pathetic looking creature. I grabbed one of the neon orange chips, crumbled it in my hand, and scattered it on the sidewalk for the pigeon’s lunch. The bird cooed, in what I imagined was out of gratitude, and proceeded to eat the crumbs. Pleased with my good deed, I went back to enjoying my chips.
Then, they started to arrive.
A couple of other pigeons joined Stumpy for lunch, but I didn’t think much of it. I hadn’t looked away for thirty seconds, just to check if another bus was coming, when I saw that about ten more birds had joined in for the Doritos fest. It was at that point I became uncomfortable and started to back away from Hitchcockian scene. That’s when all of them flew at me, flapping their wings and trying to take my bag of chips. Several of them landed on me; all I could see was a cloud of grey feathers. I tried my best to fight them off, but those opportunist pigeons held on and cooed mockingly at me. At that moment, my bus pulled up and the doors opened. When the bus driver hit the horn, all the birds flew off.
I stood on that sidewalk, slightly dazed but still holding on to my bag of Doritos.
The victory felt hollow. Feathers covered my hair and jacket, most of the Doritos laid at my feet, and I’m certain my face was flushed from embarrassment. As I boarded the bus, the driver made a joke about pigeons not being allowed on the bus. I didn’t even have the energy to throw him a dirty look, though I thought about dumping Doritos dust on him.
That was the last time I fed the pigeons.