One f**ked up bird centre

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Written by Chitat Lee (Contest Entry)


In the summer of 2003, I found a job at a bird rehabilitation centre. I won’t name the place but it was an experience I won’t forget – not one that I expected. It all began for me by searching a summer job and this was the only place where I could get one. But when I got it I was like “Yeah!” this should be a pretty cool job. But after the first day – my enthusiasm was not quite the same, to say the least.

I should tell you first that I didn’t know a single thing about birds.

Well on my first day one supervisor (let’s call him Jim) went through the spill-on cleaning procedures. That was ok, kind of boring come to think of it. Later on we went to clean the flight room. I saw him dip his hand is the wash bucket full of bird poo (diluted brown liquid to be specific), “Man that is f**king gross” I thought. I was too timid to ask if they had gloves so there I went cleaning this goddamn room of bird shit for like 3 hours without any gloves. I would have stopped if he told me to, but he left the room and I didn’t know what I should do next, so I kept cleaning.

Oh, as an aside; it was hilarious when people asked me how my day went. My response would be “well I was holding this duck and it crapped all over my shirt, it was so bad that I could feel it soak through”.

I gotta tell you I hate answering phone calls from the public, the majority of them were ok, but the assholes I wanted to punch in the face. I worked 10 hrs a day, 4 days a week and I was so exhausted everyday. The majority of the day I worked non-stop. There is always stuff to do – feeding the birds every half an hour, cleaning the dishes, doing the laundry, taking phone calls, taking in birds, sweeping the floors, cleaning bird shit constantly, preparing the food, making food, etc. On top of this I joined a kung-fu class, designed solely for self-defense. We actually practiced kicking people in the balls, in fact if you kick them hard enough in the groin you could send them to the hospital – ouch! Also I needed to get outside and roller-blade or mountain bike to keep me sane. But ohhh no!!! this wasn’t enough! I need to drink a beer every night to help me go to sleep. It was sort of funny cuz I had a bunch of empty beers in my room and my mom was getting worried that I was becoming an alcoholic. In some ways I guess that was true….

Although I may be bad-mouthing the bird centre, there were some bad things there like stupid politics on feeding the birds. But everyone that worked there, the supervisors and the other students I worked with I thought were all cool. If they weren’t there I would of definitely quit – which I was really close to doing.

I had 2 supervisors that were really cool and I still keep in touch with them today. I don’t know if I would get anyone as cool as them again. But one supervisor sticks out of my mind. Let’s call him Ted. Talk about the last person on earth that you would expect to work there. Just picture a tattooed guy with a shaved head that looks like he belongs in motorcycle gang. That’s good ol’ Ted. You see, he never graduated from high school and got stuck at the bird for like 20 years. But he was such a character!!! He had the BEST stories that I ever heard in my life about his younger years that was about school fights, drugs, and other crazy stories. But the way he told them was just perfect, you would hang on to every single word he had to say. I remember him saying how his friend did way too much cocaine and decided to wear a pumpkin on his head. His friend’s wife got really upset and wanted his friend out of the house. Another was how he took a punch from this big shot that sent him down the stairs, normally this would of knocked anyone else unconscious but he got right up and went up to the guy’s face and dared the fella to hit him again. Because of that everybody after school wanted to talk to Ted and they gave him free dope. Now do you expect these kind of stories from someone who works at a bird centre? Oh no, but despite his crazy stories, once you knew him he was a really good guy. And if you think working at the bird rehabilitation centre full-time for the rest of you life is the greatest job in the world - well either you haven’t worked at one or your dedication is beyond this world.

After I was done the job I decided to jump out of plane to end my summer on a better note.


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