Friday, March 18, 2011

...a bird, an umbrella, and a moment.

{image courtesy of vinyl fruit}

An earthquake, a tsunami, a nuclear meltdown, radiation, the threat of another war, lives lost, and more lives missing...could the collective spirit of the world have had a worse week? These were some of the thoughts crowding up my mind as I made my way through traffic toward home. One quick stop at the store and my day would be over. What happened next was, well...I'll let you decide.
I pulled in and managed to score a space in the parking lot right by the front door to my local grocery store. I even managed to run in, grab what I needed and get out with no lines and in record time. Home would be just a few minutes away. As I walked out to my car, I found 4 people crouched down between the front of my car and the car parked directly in front of mine. I of course, stopped to see what they were doing. As they parted, I was shocked to see that there was a bird stuck in the grate of the car in front of mine. It's little head was caught between the slats of the grate, while it's body was hanging outside. I immediately gasped and began to join the chorus of "oh, No's" and "oh My's", with the quartet that had gathered. And than, there it was..."The Moment". You all know's that tiny little space in time where you make that split decision to stay or to go. We have all experienced it. You see a stray dog, no human around, you're late for work, and it's dangerously crossing it's way into you stop the car and do what's needed, or do you hope the next person will be the one who stops, coaxes him, or her over and saves the day? Well..I recognized this as one of those moments and knew that once I stepped closer into the group, opened my mouth and said "What should we do?", I would become part of the solution. Of course we were all baffled as to what that solution could be. One of the girls in the group worked for PETA (only here in the Bay Area could that be part of the scenario) She whipped out her cell phone and starting calling...not sure what she expected, but it made her feel useful. I offered to drive up the street to the vet, who I knew helped wildlife, but realized it was after hours and they would be closed, that made
me feel useful. Someone than suggested we try to pull apart the slats of the grate. The women who owned the car said "go ahead, I don't care about the car", a gracious statement as it was a Lexus. Meanwhile as we were right by the front door, shoppers, the security guard, even a checker walked out to see what was the matter. It was surprising to me how many people just continued to walk on by. Until one gentleman, the quiet, take charge kind, came right up to us, saw the situation, and jumped right in. He along with the only other guy in our little group, positioned themselves on both sides of the bird and with all their might tried to pull the slats apart. Now, up until that time, we all thought the bird was dead, as it was as still as could be...but as the slats opened up a bit the bird would chirp frantically and flap it's wings. This of course caused a collective chorus from our group, of more "oh No's", and oh My's". With each try the bird would chirp and flap, and than become silent when the men let go of the grate. Clearly this would take more than the effort of bare hands. Feeling rather useless, I opened my door to put my groceries in and realized I had my umbrella in the front seat...not just any umbrella mind you, but a huge umbrella, the kind that can cover 3 small people, and most importantly a sturdy umbrella. I grabbed it and turned to the group..."This might sound silly", I said, "but maybe we could use this umbrella to pry open the slats?" It was certainly worth a try. So there we were..."Take Charge" guy started using the umbrella like you would a car jack, while the other guy tried to pry his side apart with his hands. All the while one of the women held the birds body as steady as she could. This went on for about 10 minutes, which must have seemed like hours to the poor little bird. We would glance at each other through the effort and I knew we were all wondering what we would do with the injured bird should we succeed in getting him free. For after all, that would become part 2 of our rescue efforts. Than the slats opened up just enough and in an absolute instant, with a loud chirp, and a flurry of wings the bird was free. And than in that absolute instant, quicker than you could blink your eyes, he flew away...high into the sky, wings flapping toward home. There we stood, whooping, clapping, and giving each other high fives, congratulating each other on a job well done. Than came our release...the women standing next to me looked at me with teary face was wet with tears, as was "Take Charge Guy",the man next to him, and the women he was with. TCG handed me back my umbrella and stated very matter of factly that we had done our Good Deed for the Day. With that we wished each other a great evening, got in our cars and drove away.
The world may be a difficult place at times...unfair and unforgiving with some of it's actions. We may all feel helpless when catastrophes strike and wonder if what we can offer is enough. It is. Our gestures don't have to be big to have big results. We just have to stop and care for one another. Just ask the bird...who I'm sure is grateful to the 6 crazy people in a grocery store parking lot who recognized "The Moment", took a moment, and saved a life.

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