The Pigeon Man of Ocean Parkway

Part of the adventure of living in a new neighborhood is in getting to know what kind of people you are surrounded by. When I moved in April, I was in a position where I ran out of time and felt like I had to “settle” for this apartment/location. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely neighborhood-but that’s just it. It’s a little TOO lovely for me. And not just because I don’t have a Target within walking distance, although that doesn’t help…

It’s fine, and it’s convenient, and safe, and it’s where I live, at least for now. But it lacks a certain grit or character that I would hope for in a neighborhood. Or at least I thought it did…

People still post signs on street light poles, which also gives you a sense of who is around you. No “se rentan cuartos” signs here; instead, there is a sign asking for the return of a lost scooter. The naive optimism of the person who posted this boggles my mind. First of all, that’s not how you spell “stolen”…

Another sign advertising a lice remedy was posted on a pole directly across from the local elementary school. Well-played.

But the sign that really caught my eye was this one:

Ah, yes. Of course they call him “the Pigeon Man”. I had seen him once or twice near the park. It’s hard not to notice someone who has managed to connect with winged rats Bert’s favorite bird so seamlessly. The pigeons would land on his arm and were literally eating right out of his hand. I was too intrigued by him at the time to be grossed out.

A few weeks later, the sign appeared. Forgetting for a split second that pigeons are rats with wings, I was angry, annoyed. It’s remarkable, really, what he does. Who is it really hurting? Besides the whole “carrying disease” thing, I mean. But that doesn’t distinguish them in any way from the subway railing or your morning coffee. It’s New York, kids. Build up that immunity.

All was not lost, however. A week after the first sign appeared, I was walking to the train and noticed there had been a slight edit…

I guess there’s hope for my new neighborhood yet. Like they say, you can’t keep a good (pigeon) man down…

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