The One Hundredth Edition
by John Delach
The piece I selected for this edition is one of the last I wrote before I began this blog. Before it begins, I want to thank all of my loyal readers who have offered your wonderful comments and observations. I enjoy your responses.
Secondly, I invite readers who would like to write a guest blog to do so. I will work with you on your submissions and I will never publish a final version until you sign off on it.
Port Washington Pigeons
The Long Island Railroad is engaged in a perpetual conflict with those pigeons that inhabit their Port Washington station. It is a losing fight. Despite each new and more inventive obstacle that the LIRR erects to make the creatures’ lives uncomfortable and drive them away from their nesting spots, these dirty birds either find alternative locations to live and breed or learn to co-exist with these man-made distractions. When the railroad placed netting on the underside of the weather canopies, the pigeons moved to the canopies that cover the platforms. So the LIRR retaliated by adding spikes to the tops of the rafters the flying rats were using for their homes. Having lost this spot, some birds merely shifted their nests to the tops of the message boards and television monitors that dot the platforms while others simply maneuvered between these spikes. It is almost a certainty that they will find new locations once the LIRR blocks these spots.
The pigeons have been residents of the station for so long that they have accommodated themselves to this world finding new ways to feed themselves. They understand the pace of the day avoiding the hordes of “Dashing Dans” and “Dashing Janes” as these commuters hustle through the station during the morning and evening rushes.
But, between 10 am and 4 pm, they take advantage of the relatively slow pace of activity to find their daily fare. When a train arrives from Penn Station and the passengers depart, the doors remain open for New York City bound passengers. The birds confidently approach the open doors and hop on board individual coaches to bob and weave under the seats prowling for any discarded food. Some uninitiated arriving passengers can be startled by their appearance especially when a bobbing head appears as if from nowhere beneath their seat. Others try to drive them from the train by standing up and waving newspapers at them but this foolishness just causes a commotion for everybody by having birds taking flight in these confined quarters. Veteran riders learn to live with this invasion and the pigeons take little notice of them.
The pigeons have developed a sense of when the doors will close and when they should abandon their hunt to exit the train. It may be the announcements that are always made shortly before departure, simply pure timing or even the warning bell that signals imminent departure.
But every now and then a preoccupied pigeon misses “last call” becoming an involuntary westbound passenger. The captive bird takes this in stride, calmly making its way to a door located on the left hand side of the coach. There the bird waits patiently for the doors to open once the train arrives at Plandome, the next station on the line. A quick hop off the train and on to the platform, the bird usually checks the platform to see if a snack is close by before lifting off for its five-minute flight back to Port Washington.