Its the personalities you run into that make life so interesting. The Bird Man of the Boulevard lives on the upper floors of one of our bigger buildings. He has a thing for birds. No, not pigeons, not one of those old grandpa types from the 50s scattering breadcrumbs from a park bench to a flapping cloud of feathers & filth, or some old knit cap wearing guy tending to a chicken wire spare wood framed crate on a sooty roof top – No, that would be too cliche. The Bird Man of the Boulevard has more refined tastes, more Pinot Noir to the common Merlot. He likes wild birds, things like hawks (which there are a surprisingly large number of in San Francisco) and these little sparrow like things that look like, well, sparrows I guess. Or Finches. I don’t really know to tell you the truth, they are small, have feathers and fly, that is what I know.
I am not a bird guy
So he is a bird watcher you say, perhaps an amateur ornithologist, so what, who cares, lots of people have hobbies, and why does one tenant’s hobby on the upper floors of a downtown apartment building make for an interesting character?!?
Well let me tell you why, because this bat shit crazy mofo has somehow I do not know how convinced these wild swallow like things to live in his apartment. Honestly, how does someone do that? It can’t be food alone, maybe it has to do with some sort of weird bird man mojo that this guy has going on, or maybe some sort of subsonic sound that emanates from him, going out into the air, a sound that only birds can hear, drawing them to his place, where they fly in and out the very expensive window I installed a few years back whenever they please, leaving behind droppings and feathers and who knows what else all over the place.
You open the door and you see them, on bookshelves or the couch. They are definitely not used to me because i D E F I I N A T E L Y do not go there often. When I do need to come by and replace a smoke alarm battery or help with a light bulb (yes I do that, I do not have to but I do, especially for the old timers) they like to buzz around. They probably settle down after I leave. I wonder if they sleep in there, or if they make nests and lay eggs – not questions I mull over too much nor questions I think I am going to ask any time soon, but sometimes I wonder.
I have a rule when I go into a tenant’s apartment, and that rule is sort of like that old prison guard from TV, “I See Nothing”. How people live, so long as it does not interfere with the quiet enjoyment of their neighbors, is frankly none of my business. And the swallow things, as fracken bizarre as it is to see them come in and out, they don’t seem to be hurting anyone. The Bird Man is a bit of a troubled old soul anyways, he has been there coming up on 20 years, not my longest tenured tenant by any stretch of the imagination, and while he gripes about this and that, he pretty much keeps to himself and his birds, some sort of modern day Robert Franklin Stroud, not trapped in Alcatraz per se, but bound up in a personal jail of his own, one he has a key to but keeps going back to each day.
I try not to see anything, but it makes me think sometimes.