Saturday, August 18, 2007

Underestimating Leroy

A fall afternoon in the early 1990s. Kirkland, Washington. I trudge into a small bakery in the quaint downtown. It's no longer there. I believe it's a Starbucks now.

Coffee and a roll. A few dollars change hands. I take a seat in the corner and survey the surroundings. Just a few other customers, most notably a smartly dressed, prudish-looking lady in her 60s. Half round glasses with a gold chain swinging from the frames, hair up, scanning the NYT.

On the floor near her feet I notice an English Sparrow subtly eating crumbs with the characteristic "hop, peck and repeat" strategy.

Shortly thereafter, the prudish lady notices the bird too. Clearly aghast, she waves her hand and hails the burly baker attending the counter. A wrinkled nose and stiffened index finger accompany her nasal admonishment. "Sir, do you realize there is an ANIMAL in here?"

Unfazed, the white-smocked baker ambles to the glass door, grabs the handle and swings it wide open.

At this point, there's an imaginary line from the door to prudish lady with the baker and the hopping sparrow falling in the middle. My skepticism quickly congeals. Anyone would agree that apparent strategy is doomed, because it involves a burly baker standing between the wild animal and freedom. Everyone knows the winner requires the order in which the wild animal sits between freedom and the pursuer. When the pursuer stands in the way of freedom, all bets are off.

An incredulous smile finds me mentally prepped for slapstick.

Suddenly, still holding the door, the burly baker looks down at the little bird and shouts, "LEROY! GET OUTTA HERE!"

Obediently, the sparrow complies--flying around the baker and out the door.

All I can do is shake my head.


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