Human Error

Mr. Awesome and I went to visit his mother and stepdad on the shores of Lake Michigan over the weekend. We had a lovely time: did a little shopping, had ice cream, and watched the sunset on the lake. Sunday we were able to attend the church Mr. Awesome’s grandmother called home for many years and Mr. Awesome got to go fishing with his uncle and stepdad. It was a fabulous 30 hours of relaxation.

As we pulled into our driveway yesterday evening, I mentally prepared myself for what would meet us bird-wise when we walked through the door and climbed the stairs. No doubt they would all be good and ready to come out of their cages and quite happy to see us.

What I found was frightening.

As I made my way up the stairs the first thing I noticed was that there was a light on. If we are gone more than a few hours I leave the lights off and the curtains open so the birds can have some darkness when the sun goes down. I was sure I had turned that light off. I always turned that light off. Well that’s weird, I thought. Guess we must’ve forgot. Oh well, no worries.

But then I rounded the corner and looked into Willow’s cage. I couldn’t find her. For half a second I thought my eyes were just having trouble focusing in the dim light. Then I began to worry I was going to find her on the bottom of the cage, dead, struck down by some sudden or unnoticed ailment. Then my eyes moved to the top of the cage…

There she was, perched in her usual place, ruffling her feathers and giving me her best “It’s about time you lot showed up!” face. The cage door was wide open, and there were mounds of parrot doo on the nearby bathroom floor.

My stunned brain swirled and tumbled to find an explanation for what I was looking at. A number of possibilities presented themselves in split second increments to my addled mind. Landing on one I turned to Mr. Awesome (who had followed me up the stairs) and asked,

“Who’s in our house!?”

Mr. Awesome looked a bit quizzical.

“Check the doors!” I exclaimed, and pushed past him to inspect all points of entry.

I’ve watched plenty of true crime and fake crime television programs in my day, so I knew what had happened. Clearly, some deranged psycho had broken into our home, turned on the hall light, and let just one of the birds out. They were no doubt waiting in a closet with an ax to dispatch us in our sleep.

I raced around the condo checking every door to make sure it was secure. All locked! The fiend must have slithered through the basement window. Nope, that was locked too.

I returned to Mr. Awesome and the scene of the crime.

“I have a hard time believing someone would break into our house, let the bird out, and not take anything.” he pointed out sagely. Once again I ran off. My jewelry was still there. We hadn’t noticed anything missing. Not a robbery then.

I padded back to the crime scene and began to rethink things. If a crazed, parrot-loving psychopath hadn’t snuck into our home and let Willow out of her cage… then she must have escaped! I stared at her in awe, considering what kind of genius, feathered Houdini our bird must be to have figured out how to manipulate the latch on the cage door AND swing the safety catch at the same time.

“I think it’s much more likely you just didn’t latch the door properly, or got distracted in getting everything ready and forgot to shut it all the way.” repeated Mr. Awesome, or something to that effect.

How annoying that he couldn’t see we had a bird prodigy. Me forget to lock the door? How could I be that stupid? How could I miss something like that? Put Them In Their Cages When You Are Going To Be Gone For A While was the first subject of Parrot Owning 101.

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. -Proverbs 16:18

But as I gazed at the piles of poop and shredded trim in our guest bathroom, I finally had to concede that at some point in my haste to get on the road, I had neglected to latch Willow’s door, the result being she had quite the party while we were away. Heartily displeased with my own stupidity, I thanked the Lord that it hadn’t been worse. Willow was fine, the budgies were still cozy in their cages, no electrical cords had been gnawed on, and the bathroom trim could always be replaced. Humbled and flabbergasted at the fallibility of my own mind, I grabbed the vinegar spray and broom and started cleaning up.

And so boys and girls, what’s the moral of today’s story? Double and triple check your animals before you leave the house, and don’t rely on your memory to serve you properly in these situations. I think in future Mr. Awesome and I need to create a buddy system: I check, you check. Two sets of eyes are better than one.

I suppose there is one small consolation to this unpleasant event. At least, while we were away, Willow wasn’t bored.

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