On one of the piers in San Francisco, in the area commonly known as Fisherman’s Wharf, there are two pigeons. To be fair, there are much more than two pigeons on this pier due to the number of tourists that stops here during the day to eat lunch from one of the many seafood stands that is over away from the water, closer to the street. There are seagulls there too, but that is not important.
What I am focusing on are these two pigeons in particular. One looks ragged, feathers a dirty, blackened color and an unorganized mess. The other is a slightly sleeker and grey version of a pigeon. As sleek as a dirty vermin of a bird a pigeon can be that is. I watched as the ragged pigeon looked and pecked for scraps of food. The whole time it did this, the other of the pigeons that I am mentioning here would focus its attention on the ragged pigeon, jumping and pecking at it to move it away from what it’s doing.
The ragged pigeon would scamper away but not in a way where it seemed to be bothered. ON the other hand the sleek pigeon had an almost proud demeanor to his shooing of the ragged, black pigeon, its laser-like focus always on moving the lesser pigeon farther away from where the benches and people sat. I say lesser pigeon not that the ragged pigeon was a lesser bird but more that was the implied order of things to the grey, sleeker pigeon.
Staring then a flapping jump, landing on the ragged pigeon, and then pecking at it…. He’d let it get a couple feet away from him, in either direction of the benches, and then staring before another flapping jump onto the ragged, emotionless pigeon.
This continued the whole time we sat there, my wife and me, and ate our seafood that we had just bought. From what I imagine, it didn’t stop after we left. For all I know it could still be going on, the whole time the ragged bird seemed oblivious to the passion of the other bird’s apparent distaste for it. It had wide, eyes that showed no emotion or care for anything other than what small parts of food it might glimpse from looking at the ground about it.
The whole time I witnessed this all I could think was how sorry I felt for that ragged pigeon, which I realize is weird. In my mind I felt that all he could think was “Why won’t this guy leave me alone?” I felt how the pigeon must feel unwanted. Why? Was it because of how disheveled it was? Was that the sign of some disease that people can’t detect but other pigeons can? Is it that the sleeker, better kempt pigeon was somehow higher up on in the literal pecking order?
Then the thought occurred to me, maybe it was the sleeker pigeon I should feel sorry for. Maybe, even in the animal kingdom, some things are just jerks for no other reason than that’s how they are wired, meant to be pushing and defiling others that have somehow wronged them, in their eyes. It was becoming more and more clear that the disheveled pigeon could care less for the actions of the grey pigeon, to the point that it didn’t really notice the actions. All it would do was get what it could find. The jerk pigeon was the one not getting any food or rest, from his actions.
Or maybe it was all in my mind. Maybe I was projecting, watching these birds. The suffering and the dominance created in my own mind. Is that something I do, expecting to help me answer why things are happening by putting myself in the same spot as two vermin birds in one of the more touristy spots in San Francisco, surrounded by people all around me who acted just as these birds did, unaware of the outside world around them.
The answer, of course, to all this is that that it’s in my head. Those birds, they are just birds being birds. The people, they are just people. San Francisco, obviously, is just San Francisco. Everything is as it should be and all my thoughts about it are just me projecting on the world around me.