Geese, sticky notes, and prejudice


When I want to write about something but find myself 1) at work, 2) about to go to sleep, 3) unable to type because I’m at zumba class, I typically text myself (yes, there’s a whole conversation in my phone from me, to me), make a note in my phone (the more normal way of texting yourself), or write gibberish on a sticky note.

This week, I opted for gibberish on the sticky note.

I stuck it to the back of a galley I was reading, and as I read on the bus I thought about what someone would think if they found this sticky note on the ground, whether they’d ever be able to make sense of it. Does anyone else’s brain work in a way that can connect these disparate things and ideas? I’d like to think that someone could figure out that it’s not a shopping list or notes from a business call but rather a thought process captured in snippets.

Here’s hoping that sticky note captured your attention. I’ll explain.

There’s a park reserve near my house and a main thoroughfare that I drive not far from that. The geese that make their home in the park reserve like to cross this road and hang out by the office buildings on the other side. Yet another thing I don’t understand about this wildlife. I wonder if before the buildings were built up 20 years ago this was their main turf. Or if they have corporate aspirations.

I drive this road most every day, and when I see the geese, they’re usually on the other side of the road. Which suits me. Because I HATE geese. Active hatred. For a number of reasons.

  1. When I was in elementary school, every fall they would desecrate the pavement by the playground by treating it as their bathroom. As a result, we couldn’t play four-square (or really, even walk on the pavement without getting feces on our shoes). I still resent that.
  2. As many others will relate to, I had a bad experience with them while running. I tried to understand, because their babies were young, and I am much bigger than the average goose. I might seem a threat. But was it really necessary to hiss and flap at me while I cowered on the side of the path, terrified and only able to emit a small, weak scream? (It was an involuntary response.)
  3. They look mean. They walk around ready to attack and have black, menacing heads that hide their eyes. I can’t trust any animal I can’t look in the eyes.

Anyway, so earlier this week when I drove by the part of this road where the geese like to hang, a couple of them were trying to cross the road (TO GET TO THE PARK RESERVE ON THE OTHER SIDE! maybe this explains the chicken). As I approached in my Civic, they were trying to come into the lane I was in.

Finally, I thought. I have the power now.

Geese can honk, but my car can honk louder. So instead of letting them cross, or running them over out of vengeance, I honked at them as I approached. They backed up without hissing or flapping because they know what’s good for them, and I went on my merry way. I found immense satisfaction in this, but the revenge kind, not the I-done-good kind.

My satisfaction kind of stopped me short as I wondered whether that was a heartless thing to do. Should I have let them cross? Should I have stopped? I might have startled a car behind me into rear-ending me if I had. No, it was probably all right. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so gleeful about startling the geese and making them stay out of my lane though.

Or maybe it didn’t matter at all. But I thought some more about geese and whether or not anyone likes geese. Does anyone like them? What’s the point of them? That girl in Fly Away Home must have liked them to help them migrate. I never did understand that movie, though. Why geese?

I don’t know much about geese. Why did God make geese? I know they’re kind of mean, and seem to think they own the trails by my house as well as the road. They have babies and are super duper protective of them. I’ve never really heard about any good experiences with them. But I wonder if this is a snapshot of how prejudice works, that one takes a snapshot of a group one knows little to nothing about other than a few negative experiences and generalizes them to a whole group.

I don’t know. Maybe not.

It’s likely that I’m overthinking the whole interaction. My glee over honking just gave me pause. Maybe it just gives me some structure for thinking about how I judge people I encounter and whether or not my impressions were earned or given without reason.

Or maybe this is just about geese.

Showing up

I sat on my barstool at the kitchen counter this morning, finishing up my coffee, eggs, and toast and staring out the window. My Bible was open on my left, and I’d read the chapter for the day. Titus something. But I couldn’t tell you what it was about for sure by this point in the day.

It’s a good discipline, to read your Bible every morning. Perhaps it would be more effective if you were the type of person who could remember what you read as well and think about it throughout the day. I do believe that is the intent for those of us who do morning devotions, or at any time of day. I do not remember what I read.

But I do remember what I saw out the window. It was 6:10, usually the time that I would be leaving the house if it was Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, but it was Friday. And I drive to work on Fridays, so I was planning to leave about ten minutes later than normal. I lead such an exciting and varied life.

I stared down the curving street, the one that I know points south because when as a young girl I told my sister I was running away to Grandma’s house and needed directions, she told me Grandma lived in Texas, which was south. And she pointed down the street, telling me that’s the direction I should head in. There was a woman there, running south this morning – maybe to my grandma’s house. She wasn’t the Lulu Lemon model or the poster child for Lifetime. She was just running. Not a sprinter’s clip nor a plodding pace. Fighting inertia, keeping on.

Good for you, I thought, because I am not a runner in the least.

I looked back at my Bible as if trying to remember if there was something more for me there. Thank you, God, for today, for my job and my…

See the time on the clock, glance out the window again, eat another bite of eggs. Strategize about how late I can leave and still get there on time.

Right, I was praying. Thank you for today. Just thank you, really. I can’t remember what else you say when you’re prayingHelp me to show your love to the people I work with today. There, that was something coherent and applicable.

Out the window, the woman is still going down the street. She turns and is soon out of my sight. She wasn’t that jogger you see on the sidewalk who is just barely making it, the one you desperately want to pull over and give a lift to because their faces say they’re dying and their bodies are barely moving though appearing to be attempting to run. Those people are admirable, too, and I say this as one who does not run and hates it. They’re trying, and it’s near impossible. Odds are, it’s not going to be their lifelong passion. This happens for some, but they most likely won’t be runners. Maybe they’ll walk or find that they are passionate about yoga or body pump.

But this lady is a runner. She’s got her route and her pace and her running clothes. She may not run far or go fast or impress the onlookers. But she’s still going.

I tried to go back to prayer. My mind was scattered among the things in my kitchen, out the window, on my calendar, on my (literal) plate. My discipline to at least open my Bible was there, but I wasn’t making grand strides or hearing great words from the Lord. I was just practicing for the next day, when I may show up a little better and listen a little closer.