Wildlife in the City

Riding the subway sometimes feels like a wildlife journey. This morning as I waited for the train to arrive on the outdoor platform, I heard the quacking of ducks. The sun hadn’t risen yet. It was dark. I couldn’t see the birds, but I heard them  quacking to each other incessantly. They had a lot to say and were passionate about it. Finally they took a breath and that’s when the geese started in with their honking. They were loud and vociferous. The ducks couldn’t take it and flew over my head with jet-engine speed.  FullSizeRender (23)

Yesterday as I boarded the train to go home a woman told me not to sit down. “Why?” I asked. “There’s a rat in here!” she said horrified. I look behind me and sure enough the rodent was zig-sagging across the aisle. The passengers were screaming, men and women alike, jumping out of the way. The rat scampered as fast as his little legs could take him in and out of the rows of seats. Women were lifting their legs. The screams got louder. It ran past me and onto two seats by the door. It found a hole in the back of one of them and disappeared.

We stopped at another station. People got on. The seats were filling up. The only two empty ones had the rat in residence. “Don’t sit there!” a man said to people who wanted to sit down. “There’s a rat in the seat,” he said. The riders walked to another car.

At another stop a woman got on and sat down. The same man warned her, but this time in Spanish. He just knew she was Hispanic. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “No me da miedo.” She was right. There was nothing to be afraid of. The rat was in its hidey-hole with a palpitating heart hoping nobody would rip the seat out and extinguish it. The rodent had nothing to fear. There wasn’t a soul on board with the courage to do that. Even the men, some in hard hats and fluorescent vests, big burly construction guys with tool belts around their middles, might as well have been ballerinas in tutus for all the help they provided.

It showed me I better be my own warrior.

It also occurred to me that the easiest way to hold a group of people hostage would be to unleash a few rats on a subway system. The entire system would be paralyzed in no time. 

Calvin says, “You humans. What’s a stupid rat going to do to you? Now snakes, there’s a thought.”  beagle


All We Like Sheep

Image result for crowded subway train

This morning the subway system had a major malfunction. Everything was broken – the tracks, the cars, and even the people. What completely baffles me are the passengers. They’re sheep. Our train was so full we couldn’t squeeze in a fly, but does anybody notice that? When we pulled into the stop, our conductor, realizing the suffocating situation we were in, announced to the crowd on the platform to wait for the train just behind us, which was headed in the same direction and was empty. What did the crowd do? They shoved and pushed their way into our train. I was afraid we would collapse from the load. And then we faced the under water tunnel into the city and I cringed. I have nightmares of a breakdown in the tunnel with no escape unless you like to swim, which I don’t. And I didn’t want to die with this morning’s crowd. They were too stupid. If I’m going to die in an accident, I want to go down with smart people.  Fortunately we made it safely into the city otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. But it goes to show how people in general do not think, or react well to a scenario that requires reason. If I had been waiting for the train and had had the option of the second train, I would have waited, but then again, I could have been the only one facing the risk of getting trapped in the tunnel with no one else on board but the train operator. At least I’d have had him for company when we died together.

Calvin says, “Stick to walking, always the safest bet unless you run into something ten times your size and then run like hell.”  beagle

Walking is Better

Once upon a time in a world long ago flying was a pleasure. From the moment you got to the airport to when you put your tush in your seat you were treated with respect and hospitality.

I was on my way to becoming a flight attendant for PanAm when all of a sudden it went belly-up. I wanted to see the world while hosting travelers on their planes. To this day there’s nothing I’d rather do than travel, that is until I get to security. Then it’s all out war. I refuse to go into the scanners. I’m convinced they’re a health hazard. New York TSA agents are the worse. They’re bullies. Well, I bully back, which throws them off their game. That’s when they threaten me with harsh pat downs. “Bring them on,” I say standing my ground and glowering back.

It seems to me airline travel is a burden to the airlines. I think they’d rather be transporting chickens than humans. At least chickens wouldn’t be a threat on board or try to commandeer a plane into mass destruction.  You’d just have to clean up a lot of feathers after every trip, but then you could diversify and go into making pillows.photo (90)

Flight attendants are tired and irritated with the long hours of the work day. Pilots no longer just fly the planes, they also do cabin clean-up in between stops. There’s no time for lunch. I’ve seen crews grab granola bars and wilted salads at the airports. They’re probably dehydrated, which explains their impatience with the public.  And the hours of cabin pressure I’m sure is stressing out their hearts and lungs. No wonder they’re angry. Nobody is taking care of anybody and it trickles down to the traveler who only wants a beer, a movie and a smooth trip home.

None of this, however excuses United from the abominable treatment of its passenger on the flight out of Chicago. I noticed that neither pilots or crew were involved in the incident, which was good otherwise if I had been on board I would have bolted off the flight, realizing I was in a horror movie. And then the airline would have had its empty seat.

Calvin says, “The friendly skies look troubled these days. Stick to walking.”  beagle


The Next Stop

I see this scene every day. A man gets on the train with me and sits in two empty seats. He’s dressed to the nines. Full piece gabardine suit with a handkerchief peeking out of his pocket, silk tie to match, pale colored shirt, stylist shoes and artsy socks. I notice these things. His dark rimmed circle glasses makes him look like a scholar who belongs in a wing back chair in a well appointed library, smoking a pipe as he bends over his large book in his lap.painting30

She gets on the next stop and smiles at him. He beams. She’s in a simple shirt, pants and running shoes. Her purse is a backpack. They huddle like lovebirds. He’s the talker, she’s the listener. Both wear wedding bands. Are they married to each other or is this a rendezvous? Perhaps they’re newlyweds. Both in their 50’s. They couldn’t be this besotted with each other otherwise.

Calvin says, “I vote for the rendezvous. That way you have entertainment for the ride home.”  beagle



Road Trip

I just returned from a road trip from San Francisco to Tulsa, OK with a friend who was moving there.

It took us five days on I-40. First overnight stop was Bakersfield, CA followed by Flagstaff AZ, then Albuquerque NM, onto to Amarillo TX, and finally into Tulsa OK.

The thing that caught my attention in Bakersfield was the Barnes & Noble Bookstore. It was packed with people reading in there. Gave me goosebumps.

On our way out of CA to AZ I spotted kiwi orchards, orange groves and a plane boneyard that loomed in the middle of the Mojave desert. There must have been hundreds of aircraft parked there happily decomposing in the heat.

The drive through Northern Arizona with mountain ranges of pink rock flanking both sides of the highway left me wide-eyed. The word beautiful doesn’t even come close. IMG_8258

Albuquerque was a disappointment. Old Town turned out to be a bust. It looked like a movie backdrop with stores offering goods made for the tourist trade. There was nothing authentic about it. Molly, the border-collie who greeted us at the reception desk at the hotel was the best ambassador for the city.

It took forever to get out of New Mexico. Clearly you’re not supposed to leave. Eventually we crossed the state line into Texas and were greeted by miles and miles of windmills. And when we left the hotel the next morning, we were greeted by the smell of cows and their waste. We ran out of Texas.

As soon as we got into Oklahoma the green light switch came on. Trees, rolling hills and natural grasses flanked both sides of the highway. So was the 100 degree heat.

I have crossed the country many times by plane. Now I can say I have driven most of it. Would I do it again? Probably not, but I’m glad to have done it. It gave me a greater appreciation of the enormity of our country.

Calvin says, “You could have taken me, you know. Every one of those hotels were pet-friendly and I could have announced my presence in every state.”





So It’s Raining


It’s been raining cats and dogs.

Mostly cats.

They’ve been under my window at night hissing and booing.

Every day there’s a parade of them sniffing my bushes around the house. Black, white, grey and the occasional tortoise. They prance along with tails high. They learn who’s been there. Then they leave the next memoir installment detailing the gossip of their sordid little lives for the others to stay current.

To my knowledge there’s hasn’t been a runaway best seller yet.

They’re not too happy this week.

The daily Feline Gazette has been watered down from hard core news to sound bites that are water logged and hold no new mews. The social media section has mud caked on its whiskers. The local news, well there isn’t much due to the storms, which has led everybody indoors to lick their paws.

The few still out there got to witness drama in their own backyard last night.cats and dogs

A train derailed through the canyon. A mudslide washed over a portion of the tracks. One of the cars fell over on its side and slid down the embankment and was baptized in the creek. Fortunately no one lost life or limb, a few ended in the hospital but were later released, and most commuters got home without a scratch.

Those intrepid felines who gathered in the trees got to witness the first responders take charge and do their jobs. It was exhilarating. They’ll have an article in the next edition of the Gazette with their by-line.

If it stops raining.

Calvin says, “Cats are stupid. Why go out in the rain when you can burrow under a down comforter and eat bonbons?” beagle






Gorgeous in Rags

Riding into work this morning on the subway, a tall blonde got on board.

The car was full so she grabbed a strap and hung on for the ride into the city.

I suspected this was her preferred mode anyway even if the car had been empty.

She was dressed in torn, filthy beige overalls. Her parka had layers of grime on it. Her backpack was vintage muck.

Construction tools spilled out of every pocket. Spiral bound notebooks, too. A pencil.

I looked at her face. She was very pretty. Clear skin, rosy cheeks, bright brown eyes, and she looked freshly scrubbed.  Maybe mid-twenties.electrician

She was one crazy contrast.

I was intrigued.

I got off at my stop and noticed she did, too. We got in line for the escalator. She was in front of me.

I couldn’t resist.

“What kind of work do you do?” I asked from behind.

She looked down, removed her earbuds. “Are you asking me?”

“Yes, I’m curious.”

“I’m an electrician,” she said.

“Oh,” I said.

She smiled. “I know,” she said looking at her clothes.

“Do you like it?”

“I love it!” she said with gusto. “I can get dirty everyday while working on fancy new buildings.”

“How do the others treat you, being you’re in a man’s world?” I asked.

“Fine. Most of them are wimps. They’re all babies, you know.”

We reached the top and said good-bye to each other. She smiled.

Babies. I think she gave herself away.

Calvin says, “Never judge a person by their clothes. Take me for instance. You’d never guess that a cynical, freewheeling, and persnickety heart lurks underneath this silken fur.”  beagle