Pigeon Trouble – Conclusion

Bob:  “Ray, what do you mean, the pigeons betrayed you?”

Ray:  “Oh Bob, I used to be so much more like you – enjoying the time I spent with my wife Sophia just sitting, relaxing, tossing bread crumbs … I started to take them into my confidence.”

“You trusted the pigeons.”

“Very much!  They were like family to me.”

“But then the car, and the money …”

“… but my Sophie!  My beautiful wife Sophie!!”

“What happened to Sophie?”

“They committed the most terrible, awful, unspeakable things against her!”

“You mean … ?”

Now sobbing uncontrollably, Ray exclaims, “They raped her!  Again and again and again!!”

“Pigeons.  A flock of pigeons raped your wife.”

“They played us both for fools!  Why did I trust them?  Why would they hurt her so?”

Just then a woman in her mid-forties came up to Ray and said, “Dad, are you all right?  What’s wrong??”

“I’m sorry, Judy, sweetheart, I’m sorry I couldn’t protect her.”

“I’m afraid this is my fault,” Bob says, “ – we just got to chatting about the pigeons …”

Judy rolls her eyes and laughs a bit, “Oh Dad, not again with the pigeons!”  She then turned to Bob and said, “Don’t worry, it’s okay.  It seems lately that my mother has become a little more withdrawn, a little less responsive.  We don’t really know why – and my dad seems to think the pigeons had something to do with it.”

“The pigeons DID do it, Judy!  It was the goddamn pigeons!”

“Yes Dad, it was the pigeons … Don’t worry, Bob, he’ll be fine …”

“Bob, don’t trust them!  Kill them while you still can!”

Judy helps Ray get up slowly from the park bench; then they leave together.  Bob shrugged his shoulders and went back to feeding the pigeons.

“Huh,” Bob thought to himself, “Money stealing rapist pigeons!  I guess that is pretty ridiculous …”

One of the pigeons, though, caught Bob’s eye.  “That’s strange,” Bob thought.  He squinted back at the bird, frowned, and said, “hey, what are you lookin’ at??”

One of Teaching’s Greatest Joys

It was the fall of 2008, and I was teaching logic for maybe, oh, the twelfth time in as many years.  In one class meeting, one of my twelve students was on the verge of tears – the homework wasn’t making any sense, she wasn’t getting it, she was afraid she wasn’t ever going to get it.  I was really lucky:  I was able to use the moment with the whole class, saying something like, “It’s okay:  everything you’re feeling right now, I’m willing to bet everyone in here is more or less feeling as well.  That’s good – we’re here to learn.  And I promise all of you, you’re going to learn this stuff – not right away, not all that easily, but it will happen.”  That seemed to calm her, as well as the other students.

One of the joys of teaching – maybe its greatest joy – is to be able to let a student know that you will respect them and protect them.  If your teachers aren’t doing that for you, they’re dicks, pure and simple.  I’m amazed (and humbled) by just how much people will trust you, once you are able to convince them that you want only what’s best for them, that you won’t take them for granted, that you’ll honor their confidence, that you won’t abuse their trust.  I take this part of the job very, very seriously.  I think it’s one of the best things one human being can ever do for another – and all the Nietzsche, Sartre and Heidegger expertise combined is no substitute.

Oh, occasionally you’ll have a sociopath who doesn’t get that, who can’t get that, who will try to take advantage of you.  You know they’re sociopaths because they see trust as a means for manipulating the love and compassion of others for their own interests.  If I even get a whiff of that nonsense, that person is dead to me.  I don’t really care about them, because I can’t care about them.  I’ve had to learn it’s not possible for them to ever be anything other than self-centered egomaniacs, and the best thing I can hope for is for them to die soon.