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May 11 2012

It’s been a weird day

So when I called the guy at the credit card company to report that my card had been lost, I told him “it’s been a weird day”.

The Bird

I live about 3 km from my office. In the winter, or when it rains (which is often in Vancouver), I take the #99 bus to work in the morning. However, since the weather has been pleasant recently, and I spend the better part of the day in doors facing a wall, I have resumed my preferred practice of biking to work. It’s a nice 10-15 minute sprint that I can use as an excuse to sneak the occasional ice cream sandwich here and there. Lots of gradual hills, nice trees, the crisp morning air – it’s a great way to start a work day.

I travel at a fairly decent clip. I’m a big guy, and it’s not a road bike, but I make up for that by having giant tree-trunk legs that generate enough power to allow me to keep up with most other cyclists on the road. It was while I was travelling at my top speed that a pigeon, attempting to fly across the road, failed to successfully dodge and collided with my front tire. Presented suddenly with the reality of a flailing wild animal quite literally in my lap, I freaked out a little. The whole thing was over in less than a second – I kept my place on my seat and sped off.

I suppose I should have stopped and checked to see if the bird was okay. I was so weirded out by the whole thing that my brain, uncaffeinated as it was, simply could not process the idea that a bird would try to kamikaze a moving bicycle. When I mentioned what had transpired to one of my fellow morning commuters, he asked “did it fly away?” My response: “I don’t… think so”. He shrugged, made an offhand remark about “one less pigeon” and rode away.

My Wallet

Arriving at the office a few minutes later, I decided that I would head down to the local Starbucks for my usual (grande caramel macchiato – say what you want, but that shit’s delicious). I’ve been going there and ordering the same thing so often that the barrista, a spunky and turbo-cute blonde named Michaela who does dance when she’s not serving coffee, doesn’t even bother asking me what I want when I breeze through the door. Walking down the hill to the coffee shop, running my afro pick through my hair (helmet hair on an afro looks hilariously ridiculous), I suddenly and unhappily realized that my wallet was not in my pocket.

I was reasonably certain that I hadn’t left the house without it – I make a habit of checking to make sure I have all my bits and pieces before leaving every morning. It was no trivial inconvenience either – the wallet contains not only my money, ID, and whatnot, but also the keycard which allows me access to not only the building, but my office as well. I needed that wallet not only to purchase breakfast, but to get to my desk. Reluctantly, cursing my own stupidity, I got back on my bike and retraced my steps.

It wasn’t until I was halfway home that the thought occurred to me – there were two pigeons flying across the road. Only one hit me, and when I looked back to check (while talking to the other cyclist), I didn’t see its body on the street. Sure enough, as I rode past the place where the collision had occurred, there was no sign of the bird I’d hit. It became obvious to me that the two pigeons had run a scam – like the horribly offensive one about the Roma throwing a baby into your arms so they can pick your pocket. While I had been freaking out about the one in my lap, the other had been stealing my damn wallet!

Fucking pigeons…

The Tweet

Last night, feeling particularly plucky after a couple of delicious IPAs at the local watering hole, I sent the following tweet:

If we let gay people get married, the liberals won't stop until EVERYONE'S human rights are respected. Where do we draw the line?

It was, as so many of my tweets are, a light-hearted off-the-cuff throwaway thought. In light of the gay craziness of the day, I thought it would tickle a few funnybones. What I didn’t expect is the flood of retweets and new follows it generated the next morning. I was mystified – usually if I’m lucky enough to catch Rebecca Watson or Amanda Marcotte’s eyes and they hit the ‘retweet’ button, I’ll get a little bump in views. This was far more than that.

Having been unsuccessful in my attempt to locate my wallet, I grabbed some cash from home and went to Starbucks anyway. Fishing my phone out of my pocket in line, I noticed that I had a new e-mail from a reader. In this correspondance, ze mentioned that ze had posted my Tweet to r/atheism where it was receiving a lot of favourable attention. Facebook messages from some random friends informed me that my tweet had actually hit the front page, and was exploding. For the rest of the day I was flooded with RTs, Favourites, and the occasional person who struggles with sarcasm.

The Samaritan

After working through the day, I returned home to do a thorough search for my wallet. The last place I remembered having it was when I paid my tab at the bar, so I called them to ask. The person on the other end of the phone said he remembered me, and he remembered giving me back my wallet. Nobody else had turned it in, but he said he was sure that I had enough good karma, and that it would be returned. I told him that I certainly hoped so (although I don’t believe in karma, good or otherwise), thanked him, and hung up.

Defeated, I called my credit card company and reported my card missing. I told the guy the story of the bird, and when he asked if I was okay I just replied “it’s been a weird day”. He assured me that I would have a replacement within 2 business days, and that nobody had charged anything to it. As I was about to place the next call, the buzzer to my apartment went off. Pressing the intercom, the voice asked for me by name. He’d found my wallet on the street, and had come to return it. Ecstatic, I grabbed a cash reward and raced to the door.

The man visibly recoiled when I offered him the money and instructed me to donate it to charity instead. I was a bit dumbfounded, because this is exactly the same response I gave when I found someone’s wallet a few months back and they had offered me money in exchange. He reacted exactly as I had. All of my belongings were returned, and my faith in humanity was somewhat restored.

It’s been a weird day. I’m donating $20 to the SPCA.

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18 comments

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  1. 1
    Brian Lynchehaun

    Weird day, but that’s an awesome story. :)

  2. 2
    michaeld

    Poooor pidgeon :( Still the rest was great :P

  3. 3
    Bjarni

    Ah, sometimes (only sometimes), people do rock :)

    Nice, weird story too!

  4. 4
    Sercee

    *slow clap*

  5. 5
    Stephanie Zvan

    Pigeons are not quite as evil as squirrels, but it’s close.

  6. 6
    Fredric Martin

    You’re a good man. :-)

  7. 7
    Crommunist

    I’m an even better tree.

  8. 8
    rq

    Finally someone who sees squirrels for what they truly are.

  9. 9
    atheist

    Cool story, weird day, clever tweet, happy ending.

  10. 10
    beerijuana

    Hmmm… that man who returned your wallet, is this him?

    http://i46.tinypic.com/nh1frk.jpg

  11. 11
    Beth

    he was sure that I had enough good karma, and that it would be returned.I told him that I certainly hoped so (although I don’t believe in karma, good or otherwise)….my faith in humanity was somewhat restored.

    You have faith in humanity but not karma? Seems to me that incident is equally supportive of both.

    I’m glad you got your wallet back.

  12. 12
    Clay

    Glad you got your wallet back. One of the new nudie Canadian $20 bills? Or a respectable recursive monarch version?

  13. 13
    Dan L.

    You have faith in humanity but not karma? Seems to me that incident is equally supportive of both.

    Karma is an Indian religious concept, it does not mean the same as “faith in humanity.” However, in the US, the term “karma” is often used to refer to the phenomenon also known as reciprocity rather than the original religious concept.

    Compare:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocity_%28social_psychology%29

    I bet Crommunist is a big fan of reciprocity. In fact, his post gives a great example: both Crommunist and the person who returned his wallet declined cash rewards. But karma is a purely theological concept that makes no sense outside the doctrine of reincarnation.

  14. 14
    Thomas Lawson

    That was great. Glad I stayed till the end.

  15. 15
    John Horstman

    Wow, I’ve hit squirrels twice on my bike, but never a bird. Nice narrative.

  16. 16
    hall-of-rage

    Well, that tweet is just about perfectly worded. Nicely done.

  17. 17
    outeast

    I am so going to turn the last part of this post into the next ‘atheist returned to god’ chain email…:)

  18. 18
    Ysidro

    Those tree rats are kind of…. squirrelly.

    *runs away*

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