Saturday, October 01, 2011

Lesson from the bird guy

During my brief time as an unarmed security officer I met quite a few interesting characters. The one I remember most I called "the bird guy."

One of my semi regular posts was at a local galleria type mall down town and I would usually pull a shift there two or maybe three times a month. Typically as a last minute replacement if one of the regular guys called in sick or needed a vacation day. At the time the mall was undergoing a heavy remodeling and not open to the public. Our main job was to keep people out of the construction areas and that mostly meant the local homeless population that would frequently try to set up house in some faraway nook out of public view. They especially liked the two lower sublevels for some reason. Probably because there was no power there at the time and they could easily find some dark corner to hide in.

Adjacent to the mall was a Catholic church. Midday, every weekday, they would give out food to indigents, usually sandwiches of some kind. The bird guy was always there.

The bird guy was in his early thirties, average height and a little thin. He had blonde hair that he kept cut short and neat. His clothes were casual, a knit shirt and khaki pants. They looked like they hadn't been laundered for a while but he still made an effort to look presentable. Kept his shirt buttoned up and tucked in. They might have been the best clothes he had, maybe the only ones. He always had with him a small backpack too and I suspect that it carried everything he owned.

The bird guy might have been mentally ill or disabled. I never once heard him speak to anyone and he often appeared to be in his own little world. Like everyone else he would wait in the long line for his sandwich. But it was after that you could see he wasn't like any of the others that were standing there.

The rest would take their food and go. They might hang out with friends for a short while but not very long. They got their free lunch and then quickly went their separate ways again. The bird guy had other priorities. Between the mall and church was an area that somehow had managed not to get paved over. A long narrow strip of grass and a few trees, not that common in that part of town.

The bird guy would go sit down, usually right on the ground. He would then open his sandwich and eat the insides. Afterwards he would carefully shred the bread into very tiny pieces that he would toss out in front of him. Then he would wait. It wouldn't be long before the birds would show up, all sizes and kinds. They would eat the crumbs only inches from him. More than once I saw him feeding them right out of his hands.

That was the real reason the bird guy came and you could see it there in his smile and in his eyes. No matter what other problems he had for a short while everyday at lunchtime they were forgotten.

That's the lesson that I learned from the bird guy and I try to remember it every day.

You should take your happiness wherever you can find it.


James R. Rummel said...

That is a great story!

Wilson said...

Thanks for the compliment... and the link too!

Arthur B. Burnett said...

Greetings from Texas,
I spent time in private security as well. Thanks for reminding me there were good parts of the job as well as the bad.

DES said...

Loved this post! And the frog too! I haven’t been here in a while, your blog always has something interesting to read or see.

Wilson said...

Thanks guys!