Friday, September 3, 2010

Don't you feel like a hero?

During a lull in an otherwise busy day at work, a bunch of us went outside for an 'air smoke', otherwise known as loitering around on the sidewalk outside of the shop.

And a seagull got hit by a car. It didn't die. But it was really hurt.

I didn't see anything really. I saw Gerry's face change mid-laugh as he looked over my shoulder, so I turned to see what happened, and then I covered my eyes and panicked.

"Oh no oh no." I said, cowering like a stupid girl and not looking with all my might. I might as well have gotten the vapors and fainted because my whalebone corset was too tight.

Roberto was on it in a second. I don't know if he's just a calm person or if it's that stereotypical German efficiency, but he was all business. He knew what to do, something about catching it with a jacket or a sheet and putting it somewhere. I felt like running away. Gerry told me to phone the SPCA.

I went inside the shop and found their website and tried to freak out.

"I...don't...what should"

Gerry told me to click the contact us button. And phone them.

"Can you call them?" I asked, holding the phone out limply.

He said no. He would catch the bird, I had to phone somebody for help.

So I did. And as the phone rang I was certain the person on the other end of the telephone would laugh at me and say that it's only a stupid seagull.
"Who cares? Let it suffer."
I imagined that we would be stuck taking care of this poor dying bird in the road. Selfish thoughts like "I don't want to watch it die, it will be too sad," and "I don't know what to do."

The woman on the phone was wonderful. She was kind and efficient. She had me call a wildlife-saver-place (not the official title, ha) and they asked us to catch the seagull in a box (just like Roberto said) and drive it down to some building. None of us had a car so they phoned the SPCA for us and a few minutes later a guy called to say he'd be there in ten minutes to collect the bird.

My hands were shaking but I felt like the guy on the other end of the phone was a superman. He was coming to save us! It would be okay!

I went outside to tell everybody that we were saved, we were off the hook! It would be okay! And then I saw that the bird had walked to the sidewalk on the other side of the road. My spirits sank as it hunched down beside a large stone wall and tourists stopped to take pictures of it as it backed slowly away, dragging a broken wing.

Roberto said he would go over there "to watch it" and I went too. A couple young girls were standing nearby discussing the bird, and we told them we called somebody.

"Oh thank goodness, I didn't know what we should do," said one, and they went on their way.

By this time the little guy must have realized it was really hurt and tried to run away from us, from the cars, from its own terror, and it stepped on its broken wing...and started screaming.

You guys, it was the most awful thing...Roberto stayed with it and talked to it in a low voice, but I walked away totally crying. In that moment I felt so useless and terrible for not being able to help. All I could do was stand in the way of this screaming bird so it wouldn't run back onto the road until help came.

The SPCA guy showed up soon, even though it felt like hours, and I went inside because I didn't want to watch the man collect the bird. It felt too much like patting myself on the back somehow. For doing nothing but watching the spectacle...I don't know.

I went into the back of the shop and pretended I was just busy and not hiding. I know that there really was nothing else I could do, and we did more than most people would have, but when later somebody asked me "What's wrong? Don't you feel like a hero?" I only felt ashamed. No. How could I take pride in barely wanting to help, and not being able to really do anything?

I programmed the wildlife number into my cell phone in case I see something like that again, under the name "Animal hit by car"... let's hope I don't have to use it.

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