Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When you want to kick a pigeon, it's time for a break

The imminent arrival of summer has both positives and negatives for city life.

We’ll get the bad stuff out of the way first. The heat. Sweet baby monkeys, it will be stifling. Not really looking forward to that. But it may give me the motivation needed to finally create my air conditioned pillow suit for summer traveling. So….silver lining.

On the plus side, though, we have tourists. Now, some people don’t love when the tour buses roll into town, but let me tell you, there are few greater opportunities to people watch. (Really the only thing coming to mind is the airport the night before Thanksgiving.)

It rarely takes more than a quick scan to tell at which stage each group of tourists is. There are the bright-eyed and bushy tailed. They’ve just arrived at their first sight of the day. And they are pumped. The world is glorious and everything laid before them is both interesting and fantabulous. It shall be the best of days. To commemorate this epic event, they shall purchase an article of clothing proclaiming the city’s name, which makes them look like the victim of a vicious paintball attack (that was perpetrated by the 1980s). And it shall be good.

Then you’ve got the folks a little bit further into their day of fun. They’ve seen about a quarter of what they planned on getting to and it was great. But now they’re starting to wonder about the feasibility of seeing everything else. I mean, it’s a lot of things. So, they’re taking a break. Grabbing a pretzel and some Gatorade at a stand that’s also selling CIA sweatbands (just like all the real intelligence officials wear whilst they are intelligencing). And they’re re-evaluating. Some of the groups will make the choice to cut down on their expectations, make the day a little more relaxing. These are the same people who you’ll see laughing as they partake in their outside seating suppers.

And then there are those who decide to push through. They admirably soldier on, determined to see every single sight. They often meet a fair amount of success, if their tales of heroic effort are to be believed. However, they also pay a hefty price. You can see it in their faces as the wander by. They’ve seen too much. Deprived of both food and rest, their bodies are beginning to rebel against them. Circles appear under the eyes. Smiles are drained away. Shoulders slump further and further forward. They are left with only one choice. They must find sustenance.

When last the tourists came to our city, a family in this situation was observed. Parents and a boy around ten or eleven. The adults were trying to figure out where to go next, while the boy eyed up some of the local wildlife. Finally, the fatigue got to him and he spoke to his mother, gesturing to the bird:

“That’s a fat pigeon…..can I kick it?”

The mother did not hesitate to respond:

“No. We need to eat lunch.”

There was no shock at the question. No commentary on the morality of kicking animals. The implication here was that such activity could not occur on an empty stomach. And they shuffled into a nearby restaurant, leaving those around them to hope that the pigeon got out of the way before the kid was full.

And so, with past observations such as these, I look forward to the newest crop of tourists. I have no doubt that they will leave me with more stories. And I thank them for it. But I caution all of you who plan to visit this fair city: Stay hydrated, take breaks, and stop threatening the pigeons.

'Cause we're going to need them on our side when the squirrels mount their offensive.

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