Why Can't People just be KIND
OK, so yes, it's illegal to feed pigeons here in San Francisco. And I still do it. I feed my little flock every day on the sidewalk between some trees, on the "blind" side of a building with little foot traffic.
I do try to be discreet, and scan the horizon for anybody who might see me feeding. But oftentimes the pigeons give me away because they fly down to meet me, and get all excited while they're waiting for me to put down the seed.
They eat quickly and are often back on their rooftops and electrical wires within 5 minutes. No fuss, no muss.
There's this woman who has been around the neighborhood for years, maybe in her late 60's or early 70's by now. I met her many years ago because she used to walk an elderly neighbor's yellow lab, Ginger. I once saw her hit Ginger right across the face, in fact I was standing there talking to her when she did it, she didn't try to hide it from me. I told the dog's owner but she just said "Oh, Ginger loves her!" and indeed, Ginger had an exceedingly strong will and hard head, but still, it didn't sit right with me.
When Ginger's owner died, they sent Ginger to live in Oregon and there was some talk about sending this woman up with her but it didn't happen, and she basically became homeless.
I think she's from Germany, she has a thick accent, and no teeth, so her tongue slaps disgustingly against her lips when she talks. And she's dirty, and has a big wart on her chin with a hair growing out of it. She's fluent in English. I never liked her because she was always very opinionated and domineering and loud even before she became homeless, and she hasn't changed.
Anyway, the other day when I had just fed the pigeons she came along and said in her smug know-it-all tone that it was illegal to feed pigeons. I ignored her.
Today, I had fed them and had walked away, crossed the street and was buying a paper at a rack, when I glanced over and saw her walking down toward the pigeons who were still eating. She threw something at them, hurled it with all her might (a cup?) and they flew away, and then sat down on a ledge of the building near where I feed. I went over and confronted her and she yelled at me that feeding pigeons was illegal. I said cruelty to animals was illegal, and so was littering, and so was vagrancy and not having a fixed address or means of support. I also asked whether she was a legal citizen (she didn't answer), and said that if I saw her harrassing the pigeons again I would call the police. She wouldn't leave, so I just stood there next to her and waited her out. She yelled, so I yelled louder and longer.
I am tall, and she is short, so I think my physical presence intimidated her, and eventually she wandered off.
I don't know why a person who is down on her luck and basically depends on kindness from strangers in order to survive, can't show a little empathy to stray pigeons who are basically in the same boat as she is, and just leave them alone.
So, from now on I am going to have to stay while they eat. She won't call the police, she doesn't even have a cell phone. And I'll make it clear to her the next time I see her that I will file a complaint against her for aggressive behavior, cruelty to animals and littering if she tries. Then my next call will be to the INS. I'm just not going to stand for this.
Normally I try to float under the radar and not get into confrontations with people, which is why this is only the second time I have had a problem, in many months, feeding the birds...but the problem with a homeless busybody like her is that she has nothing but time on her hands, she lives on the street (THAT street, or nearby), and this gives her a "crusade" - something to while away the time and give her a feeling of importance and control over her environment.
I really REALLY prefer to avoid such confrontations because they end up focusing somebody's negative attention on the pigeons. I prefer not to give nasty people any energy back, because they feed on it. It makes them feel less invisible if somebody out there finds them worthy of attention - and it doesn't matter if it's BAD attention - as long as somebody - ANYBODY - notices them.
Last edited by SerendipityCA; 10th December 2008 at 02:58 PM.