Tuesday, May 16, 2006

the crow and the homeless woman

sarah and i went to green lake for a walk on friday. the weather was perfect for a walk- and i should preface this whole entry by saying, if you're not in seattle right now, then somebody needs to let you know about the great weather. yall all think that seattle is nothing but rain and cold, but you are wrong. no place on earth has summers the way seattle has summers. --seattle is summer.

from today's weather posting: Seattle, WA 81°

and with this little picture right after it:

but don't get me wrong. seattle aint Louisiana. (i don't like seattle as much as i like home.) and seattle aint Laos either. (the padek in Laos is a lot better than what you get in the stores here.) anyway, seattle was giving us good weather for walking, and the best place for walking is green lake, and so we began our little trek around the lake. well, we hadn't gone but maybe 3 minutes when we noticed this crow on the side of the path. i don't like crows, but this one was kinda interesting cause it had its head down inside a plastic grocery bag. i thought the crow was trying to get at some of the food in there, but on closer inspection - its head was stuck. crows are not dumb birds, (just noisy and dirty) and this one apparently had gotten a bag of garbage out of the garbage can (the kind with the push-open lid). well, in the process, the crow had gotten its head stuck in the handle of the plastic bag. i kinda laughed at the whole thing, (i mean, it looked kinda funny, and plus, i don't like crows) but when we got a little closer, the crow flew off over the lake with the bag still twisted around its head and then came back, landing close to the path; so, i guess i started to get a little more concerned about the crow at that point. well, maybe not just then; i think i laughed some more at the crow as it tried to fly off a another 2 or 3 times. it did look kinda funny - flying off over the lake with a QFC plastic bag of garbage hanging on its neck. looked like edgar allen poe's version of the stork or something. sarah and i had this moment of indecision - should we keep walking, or should we stop and help. (actually, i don't think i was planning on helping; i think i just wanted to laugh at the crow a little longer while it tried to get its head outa that bag handle.) but when you stop to watch something, a crowd will gather... and that's what happened. a couple of other people stopped - and an elderly man came up to us and said he'd been watching the crow from the front seat of his car for some time. well, we all know what happened to kitty genovese, and i thought about that, so at sarah's prompting, i stepped into action. (and for those who don't know about kitty:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitty_Genovese ).

leaving sarah in the company of the elderly man, i joined forces with a woman in a purple jump suit, and we stalked the crow through the parking lot, across the street and into a small grassy area (where the infamous feral rabbits of woodland park can be found grazing right before they run out into the street and get squished by passing cars... for more info on this: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/262159_rabbits08.html )

me and purple jumpsuit lady had minimal success. i removed my black fleece jacket and tried to throw it over the crow (at sarah's suggestion), but it didn't work; my jacket caught some wind and came falling back at my feet. by this time, the crow flew back across the street, spilling some of the garbage out of its bag. the crow tried to fly into a tree, but it was clearly tiring, so it made an emergency landing by the sidewalk where another man and his wife had joined our crow rescue team. this man was armed with woolly blanket and a pretty good sense of stealth. as i approached from the back, he came at the crow's front, and it gently succumed to the blackness of my fleece jacket. however, by this time we hadn't only collected a crowd of onlookers, but a large number of crows were over our heads squawking and making a racket, what crows do best.

we worked quickly to free the crow; the stealth man and jumpsuit woman held the crow as i pulled back the jacket - and sarah appeared outa nowhere with a big pair of scissors (the elderly man had them in his car; do people normally carry scissors around in their cars?) so i used them to cut through the plastic handle, (it was up under the crow's feathers, and it would've been hard to remove without scissors,) and crow flew off to join his friends.

i left the crowd after a group hug and rejoined sarah and the elderly man. i was feeling kinda good about the deed we'd done, and i even felt a little better about myself. (and although i don't like crows, i liked them a little more after saving one from grocery bag death).

well, on saturday, sarah was nice enough to let me borrow her car while mine was in the shop, and so she and i were together again... this time we came across a homeless woman. i had already had words with this woman an hour before; after coming across the street from the mechanic shop, i came face to face with her - and she looked me in the eyes and yelled, "YOU MURDERED HER!" i kinda laughed (what is up with me laughing at people in distress?) but her accusation was kinda out there, and well... i laughed... and half-mumbled something to her about her medications. she didn't seem aware that i'd said anything and pronounced (even more emphatically) "YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO KILL HER 5 TIMES!"

so when sarah showed up, i was already feeling kinda concerned about the whole thing. the woman stared at us on the sidewalk, hurled some accusations with a wave of her hand, and then sped off down the street and around the corner. i didn't know what to do. and even though i stood there and watched, a crowd wasn't gathering to motivate me to action. was she really homeless? was she where she shouldn't have been? is this is everyday for her, or she is in danger?

man... crows are easier: bag's on its head; get it off. a mentally ill homeless woman is a harder call... and supposedly i am the mental health clinician, but i was at a loss as to whether i should let it go, or call the police.

i let it go. and i even let it go when i saw her again at 9 pm that night, scurrying down my street towards the baseball field. i jogged in her direction for a bit, just to see where she was headed... but finally, i stopped, feeling a little heavy of heart.

i watched her for a moment longer as she walked further into the dark, then i turned around towards my apartment, and slid my cell phone back into my pocket.


ewesa said...

I like that in our stories we both ask reflective questions at the point when the crow is captured. it's a deep, pondersome moment apparently. heh.
ok I have to admit I learned more while reading your story and clicking on various things than I think people will learn from my story. mine is like the more action-packed "MICROW:III". and you had the crazy lady tie-in (that one really was sad). but you totally failed to mention the shoes. :) definite point deduction!

jrm said...

shoes? what shoes???

ewesa said...

uh-oh, someone better go read my story again!

plainoldsarah said...

i love having more than one version of the story. new details from new perspectives. plus i'm a fan of tangents. good job joseph.

Anonymous said...

Awesome story, Joseph!

I recognized the name "Kitty Genovese" immediately and I thought the analogy was great!
It doesn't matter if it is an animal or human who is in trouble--don't ignore or "shut it out." Sometimes it just takes one person to motivate the rest.

p.s. 42 years after the horrible murder of Ms. Genovese, her killer is still "alive" and in prison. American Justice works!!!!


bug girl said...

Wow, you are almost my hero. I have a soft spot for rescuers of animals stuck to something or something stuck to them. Incidentally I don't really like crows either. But I love Ravens. Have you ever had a flock of ravens hanging out on your front lawn, or is that a gang of ravens? It is very creepy. They are a bit larger and have scary stories about pecking eyeballs out of people (and dogs)heads. Ok, maybe I am not so fond of them, oh, wait, no, the reason I like them more than crows is that they are even smarter than crows and there have been occasions where they have been taught to talk. I like talking smart birds.

jrm said...

almost being a hero is better than being a hero...
cause now i have something to aspire to...