Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Train Story

Oddly enough: after you told me the story of how you saved a pigeon from behind a CTA Transit Card machine, I found myself on the el at Howard, on the red line, waiting for the train to leave. The car was mostly empty when I stepped in, and I took my seat near the doors, in the first row that faces forward, as I always do when I have the opportunity. I was sitting and staring down at my bag, not wanting to read, not sure of what to write, but not wanting to go through the ride in silence, either. The doors were still open. There was a rush of wind and a breeze on my face, then a thump against the window above me. I heard flapping wings and I lowered my head, instinctively maybe. I turned around to follow the flapping and saw a pigeon inside the car. It had perched on the bar, on the silver bar, on top of one of the seats. Someone sprang into action with their magazine, attempted to guide the bird toward the doors. It flew up an thumped into another window. Two people were on it now and the bird headed back my way. I saw it, full on, wings spread, and tiny, clawed, red legs spread out in front of it. It was flying at my face and I ducked again, felt the breeze across my forehead again, and the bird thumped, unseen, against another window.

I couldn't see where it was right away so I stood up and carried my bag across the aisle, standing opposite the doors the thing had flown through in the first place. The magazine people herded the bird further and it finally caught sight of the sun and flew out into the open again. It was another run-in with nature for me, one more in a weekend that had been full of them.

No one in the train talked about the bird, or even smiled at one another knowingly. I don't know what they thought, but I realized I was the guy who ran from the bird, and not the one who sprang into movement, the one who helped the bird escape or helped his fellow passengers from being locked in a train car with a pigeon. I often daydream, when I'm in an enclosed space with a small number of people, about what might happen if some disaster took place and the only people left on Earth were those in my train car. I think about who would become the natural leader of the remnants of civilization, about the couples that might pair up.

I realize I was the one who ran from the bird, while someone else took action.

No comments: