One evening several years ago, I skipped down the back stairwell and exited into the alley to make a last minute beer run. I prefer the alleys to streets mainly due to the peace and quiet. Even with the dumpsters and random trash strewn about, it's still generally cleaner than the sidewalks, littered with various McDonald's wrappers, broken bottles, and dog shit. Plus, I'm able to stick to the shadows and not have to walk by any obnoxious tourists.
As I started down the backstreets of the 1300 block, I slowly approached a bird cage held up on a stand at about eye level. As I got closer, I noticed a couple cats prowling around and realized that there was still a bird in there. It was a parakeet of some sort and it hopped about from perch to perch, cocking it's head left and right, seeming to eye me up. I looked around and there was no one to be seen. I've never been big on having birds as pets. I always thought it sad that these creatures of flight be relegated to a prison for the rest of their lives. Even if it was a pet, what kind of person would just leave it behind their apartment building in an alley full of stray cats? I looked left and right, lifted up the tiny cage door and the parakeet hopped to the ledge of the door, looked at me...and flew away into the night. I know it may have been a death sentence, sending a domesticated, non-native bird into the wastelands of Miami, but I thought if that was me, I'd rather have a few awesome days of just flying my heart out until I die then live in a cage for the rest of my life, pecking at a bell to amuse the person who cleans my shitty newspaper off the bottom of my tiny world. I smiled and continued on my journey. When I got back to my apartment, I recanted the whole tale to my wife over a couple of cold, frosty ones.
The next afternoon, my wife and I were in the apartment and noticed this non-stop chirping coming from our balcony. We went to the sliding door and there was a parakeet sitting on my railing. I told her, "That's the parakeet I freed last night!". "Fuck Off!", she replied. I slowly opened the door and crept closer to the bird. It didn't move at all. It just continued to look me over in that jittery bird manner. My wife was astounded. It was the bird from the alley. I held out my finger as an invitation, thinking it would take off, but instead it hopped on, staring at me, and twitched it's head this way and that. I couldn't believe it. My wife grabbed the video camera and we recorded it. She held out her finger and the bird jumped right on. He chirped a bit and then suddenly just took off towards the bay. That was the last I ever saw of my feathered friend. I believe he stopped by to say "Thank You" before he headed off for the Keys to live it up. It would be quite a distance for those little wings, but he probably needed the exercise anyways.
From living on the Eastside of Milwaukee to the condo hell of South Beach, I've had my share of abysmal communal laundry room experiences. There is a certain etiquette that everyone needs to follow, otherwise we have social-appliance anarchy. Lets face it, some of us have a finite window of opportunity to get our stinky garments clean. Laundry etiquette dictates that upon completion of the wash cycle, the owner of said civvies will be prompt in taking them out of the washer, moving them to the dryer and again returning once their paid time has expired to retrieve their drapery and vacate the machine for the next poor soul in line. Also, show some respect and clean the lint trap! It's bad enough thinking about all the neighborhood pubes that have danced with my sheets, the least you can do is scoop out your own fuzzy fragments. By the way, I'm being gracious and giving you 10 minutes to return promptly for your washed wardrobe, or else. It's the 10 minute rule.
I first learned of the 10 minute rule while living in NYC. It seems everybody lives in peaceful co-existence based on this law of the laundromat land. If your shit is done and you aren't around in 10 minutes, your shit is going on top of the next washer machine, a vacant chair, or if the person is really nice...placed in an empty dryer. I never went the placing-in-a-vacant-dryer route for strangers. If anything, I've wanted to whip my dick out and squirt some piss in your clean garments for not being courteous and prompt with your washing skills. You should be ashamed of yourself. It's called TARDiness for a reason, you waste of space.
I've begun to believe that this common courtesy should be applied to life in general, especially when using public property. Take the other day at the park, for example.
There are four children swings. Two are for the older cretins and the other two are especially designed for toddlers not to fly out of. Some nanny had all four swings occupied with her brats of all ages. Cellphone held to her head and yakking, she would walk to two of them, push lamely with her one available hand and then go to the next pair, alternating feeble shoves so the kids barely moved, more interested in her wireless chatter. At one point, she was so into her conversation that two of the youngest kids sat there stagnant and confused in the blazing sun. They sat like this for 10 minutes while Nanny hung up and began to text some guy she was calling Papi, "LMFAO", no doubt.
I need one swing for my daughter. Just like the 10 minute laundry rule, I should be able to remove the nanny's property and use the public swing while not in use. I believe it is in my right to just take the toddler out of the swing and lay him in the wood-chips (in the shade of course, I'm not some inhumane brute). If he's still squirming there and unclaimed when I'm done, I'll be a good soul and put the poor lad back in the safety of the swing. I won't even attempt to interrupt his guardian's telephone call.
I actually entered this in a children's Easter coloring competition at a neighborhood grocery store on the Eastside of Milwaukee back in the late 90's. I didn't win, but victory could never have been as sweet as when I gave a copy to my beloved indie record store Atomic Records, who enjoyed it so much that it was displayed in the shop for quite some time. I miss you Atomic...