I Killed a Pigeon - 8/24/05
OK, I didn't kill it, but it was my fault it died. It was also the fault of pigeons being the stupidest animals of all time.

Verde, Charlie and I were walking down one of the Wacker Drive sub-streets near Grant Park in Chicago. The sidewalk was basically covered in pigeons - fluttering about, eating things, crapping on whatever they felt like crapping on... basically carrying on like they owned the place. Now, every big city has pigeon problems, but I submit that downtown Chicago pigeons are right up there in annoyance level with Times Square Pigeons.

I don't know whether it was audacity or downright stupidity, but these pigeons on Lower Wacker absolutely refused to get out of the way as we walked down the sidewalk, very near the point of being stepped on. Not that I would feel that bad if I accidentally stepped on a pigeon, but they're fat little fuckers and I could sprain an ankle, and we were on our way to play drunken frisbee. So I decided to give the pigeons a little scare -- you know, show 'em who's boss, show 'em whose garbage they are sustaining their disease-ridden lives with.

So I made a dash for one of the chubby, lazy pigeons that had insisted on walking two inches ahead of my front foot for the last half a block. I wanted to kick it -- not a hard kick, just a little nudge with the foot to send it down the road and remind it that humans still ruled. The pigeon freaked. Not used to being chased, the bird suddenly forgot how to fly, and fell into a gap between the sidewalk and one of the tunnel walls. But the gap was only six inches deep, so after a moment the panicked pigeon squirmed its way out, saw me, freaked out again, remembered how to fly, then fluttered smack into the wall, falling back down into the gap again.

By this time I had stopped chasing it, staring instead with a mix of amusement and awe at just how dumb this pigeon was. But the damage was done -- by this time the bird was whipped into such a state of fight that it wriggled out of the gap again, whirled in two circles, then fluttered at a low height out into traffic and WHAM! Got hit by a minivan.

I don't know if the minivan was speeding or anything, but the pigeon was lunch meat. Feathers flew, the pigeon fluttered a few last times, then died right there on the street. Verde, Charlie and I were shocked, but decided quickly to not look at it and move on. There was nothing we could do.

"Wow," said Charlie. "I feel kinda bad." Verde agreed. I thought it over as well, and after a moment of somber consideration, I came to a disturbing conclusion: I didn't feel bad at all.

Not a bit. I had just caused the death of a living creature, and I felt no remorse, no pang of compunction, nothing. I wasn't happy it had died or anything -- I just didn't care. At all. Ironically, that was the only thing that made me feel bad: that something had just died because of me, and apparently I was too much of a soul-less monster to even feel guilty about it.

I confided this to Sean and Charlie, and after a few minutes they had helped me justify my sentiments. First of all, it wasn't a living thing -- it was a pigeon. A flying rat, a disease with wings. Does anybody like pigeons? No. Everyone hates them, and everyone at one point or another has thought about kicking one or feeding it Alka-Seltzer until its stomach fills with gas and it explodes.

Second of all, the bird kind of had it coming. If it hadn't been trying to get stepped on for the previous half a block, or if it hadn't have gotten so fat and lazy from eating our garbage in the first place, it never would have pissed me off. I'm not saying my actions were in self-defense or anything, but I think the lack of intent to kill plus the continued provocation would have lessened my charge to Pigeonslaughter 1, max.

And finally, what kind of self-preserving animal responds to being lightly chased by flying directly into oncoming traffic? I wasn't trying to step on it, and then I even stopped chasing, and yet the pigeon reacts by flying right at probably the only thing around that could have killed it? That's like a gazelle, being chased by a lone hyena, jumping headlong into a volcano. Honestly, Darwinism should have weeded out that pigeon a long time ago. Maybe all pigeons. That's the price of advanced society, I guess -- we force the survival of things that are way too stupid to be alive. I feel the same way about dumb kids who put their heads out bus windows and get decapitated by stop signs.

Wow, I guess maybe I am a soul-less monster. But at least I didn't feed any birds Alka-Seltzer.

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