in places where birds shouldn’t be

May 7, 2009

sparrow security breech

I stepped off the elevator and directly into a dilemma.

A bird flew inside through the window next to me and cut off my path like he was challenging me to a race. He continued a confused hop all the way down the outrageously long hallway as I hesitantly trailed him. He stopped in front of the very last door, the exact apartment where I needed to deliver the meal I was carrying.

I took one step closer, and the bird went crazy. He flitted his wings ceaselessly and nose-dived into the door, rebounded and slammed into the door on the other side of the hallway, and set himself in repeat mode for this painfully back-and-forth pattern.

This moment verified my suspected terror of birds in enclosed human spaces.

Only yesterday a woman discussed with me her suspicion that the tiny brains of birds who bang their heads on windows and walls experience something like shaken baby syndrome. This makes them go crazy and (I might be slightly exaggerating this part) their mushed brains force them to peck out human eyes.

But if I didn’t get past this now-crazy bird, an elderly man would have no food. I took a deep breath, clutched the meal container in front of my eyes to shield them, and stepped forward. The mess of wings shot toward me. I started swinging food and running the other way until the two of us were right back where we started.

I left the apartment building to enlist help. My driver was a very kind and very small Russian man named Yuri, and I explained the situation to him twice because the word “bird” didn’t translate well between our different accents. “Ohhh, you are too scared!” he said and resolved to heroically save me from my fears.

I led Yuri to the bird-infested hallway and watched from around the corner as he marched into the path of the likely eye-hungry bird. The bird just flitted past him. Yuri was clearly not going to allow a bird to continue haunting the hallway and scaring helpless people like me, and so, after delivering the meal, he chased the bird.

As Yuri pushed the bird into the main hallway, a woman and her small child stepped off the elevator. “There’s a bird in the hallway!” the little boy excitedly screeched with giant eyes. He then thrust his hands upward and yelled, “I’m superman!”

Our small crowd watched as Yuri caught the bird in his hands and released him out the window. While we rode the elevator safely away from the situation, I added “birds with shaken baby syndrome” to the list of things I’m afraid of which now includes choking, knives pointing at me, owning expensive things, and birds with shaken baby syndrome.

I also added both Yuri and kids who think they’re superman to my list of useful people to have around in times of crisis.

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