On a good morning my ritual of coffee and a cigarette on the roof is shared by a raven or pigeon; in lieu of direct company I’m fond of watching flocks navigate the winds… Suppose you could say I’m a casual bird watcher… Outside of work little blackbirds and sparrows provide a safe alternative to establishing eye-contact with Upper Haight denizens which is nice because my neck gets cramped if I have to stare at my shoes too long…

The birds of Upper Haight tend to be a desperate variety, similar to the homeless (casual or habitual), kids, hippies and weirdos… Spent half a cigarette watching a small group of blackbirds squabble and peck over one of the free dog bisquits we offer patrons who drag their over-weight pooches through the aisles… An aged and apparantly unimpressed mutt slobbered and gummed a doggie-bone outside before abandoning it to the sidewalk and the blackbirds soon descended on this sumptuous feast… The bisquit is as big as any of the birds and could have provided for all involved in the little riot but for reasons locked within their primal make-up the birds concentrated more on chasing each other away with pipping noises and sharp pecks than sharing… I left them to it confident that soon a dog would amble by and remove this bisquit leaving the birds to peck and argue over their usual meals of cigarette butts and carelessly discarded gum…

More striking was an inter-genus altercation between a large flock of blackbirds and a pigeon… I missed what started it but watched as the pigeon was overpowered by sheer numbers, pecked at in mid-flight and harried until forced with a violent thud to the street… The pigeon gathered its bearings after the blackbirds took to the skies and made a mighty leap directly into the grill of a fast approaching bus with an even more violent and audible thud and accompanied by the groans of all watching from the sidewalk…

I know it’s nothing comprable to what ducks do in the Netherlands but it’s a far cry from the peaceful, mixed-race morning trash and crumb noshing of birds on Valencia Street monday morning while I made my way to meet a surgeon at St. Lukes… The birds were calming– not sure if I was having my face slit open in twenty minutes or just talking about it…

The waiting room was a small chamber full of uncomfortable furniture which must be why they couldn’t fit a water cooler or a clock inside… I had to ask the receptionist for a key to use the bathroom in the hall and had to keep my stomach from churning acid up into my throat with antacids while I squirmed in my seat waiting… There was a woman who had an appointment before me sitting there as well but the doctor didn’t seem to be in any hurry… After another three people had found their was into the room which already had no room for a water cooler or clock he decided to show up… The woman ahead of me was let in the back; I listened for any signs of screaming…

After her very brief visit with no screaming she emerged with a complete lack of lacerations… I bumbled my way into the back room wishing I had borrowed the bathroom key again prior to the call-up… The surgeon suggested that, based on my referral, it seemed I could show better than describe my problem which involved my finger pointing to my face… Oh, no, you’re gonna need plastics… This doesn’t mean I’ll require plastic sugery (and it certainly doesn’t mean you can pay using a credit card because I tried that after I borrowed the bathroom key) but it does mean I need someone good with the implants and the skin grafts to remove my grossness without adding to my disfigurement… The surgeon said he couldn’t do it without leaving (pause) more scars…

Great!  I woke up at seven… He had the receptionist look up a doctor in the same medical group while I used the bathroom inside the office which required no borrowing of key and handed me a business card with lots of writing all over it… So about my ten bucks? Because it’s cash/check only I had broken a $20 getting change from the woman’s five and ones she’d used to pay… The people who’d come in after me had somehow managed to leave the manila envelope functioning as a cash register devoid of anyway to easily repay my copay… The surgeon said he’d take care of it and pulled out a money clip… Leafing through– Oh wait, I can’t, I only have thousands… I looked at his money clip and, yes, that’s not gonna work… I offered to break a $20 if he had one and after digging he found a lonely bill which he held out… Meanwhile I’m holding a wallet, business card, receipt for my co-pay, backpack and jacket and seem a little unable to dig the ten bucks out of the wallet right this second… He waits, I wait, no help there… I grab the $20 out of his hand with my pinkie and hand him the receipt for payment with my forefinger and thumb and his world stops… He’s staring at me, flabbergasted and his eyes scream where’s my ten dollars?!? With my recently liberated thumb and forefinger I dig the five and ones out and hand them over… We’ve made amends, we’re all friends, thanks for everything… I walk home back along Valencia but fail to notice the birds having breakfast– maybe they’ve moved on with their days and it’s offices and school and whatever it is they do…

Buy a dozen eggs at the ripoff store across the street from my house and as I’m crossing I step over a chunky red smear partitioned by tire-treads… Cock my head a little and there’s the rest of the pigeon looking a little worse for wear…. I go inside and make breakfast before calling the plastic surgeon to make an appointment…

Q&D Chinese Center- SFPL-3rd Floor MAIN391

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