It was a normal workday at my family’s furniture store. A 60-ish year old gentleman walked in looking for a desk. Nothing unusual about that.
As I showed him around the store, I noticed something was moving in his shirt. As we walked around, and I pointed out various options, I was trying not to look but…it was hard not to! There was definently something going on in there!
Then, without warning, a head popped out of his short shirt sleeve and looked around. I was taken back! It was a small bird. Then a second one. They were colorful and small, similar to a cockatiel.
When he saw my surprised face, he sort of abruptly pulled them out, and apologized saying, “These are my pets. I have many of them at home, but these are a few of my favorites so I bring them with me when I go out.”
Clearly the man was more comfortable with animals than people. But hey, you meet all types, right?
He had taught them a number of tricks which were quite impressive, and they proceeded to perform for me. It was a little odd but I tried to be professional and not act like I was too “weirded” out by it and continued showing him around.
A few minutes later, as I showed him a credenza, he sat down in front of it and was examining the keyboard tray. I quietly bent down on one side to open the side door to show him the CPU storage. Then, without warning, he flew backward, and then jumped up abruptly as if he had been shot. The frightened birds took off flying in different directions, including me. It was crazy! And my family, who were in the office looking through the open window to the showroom, were trying really hard to not react. But they were giving me the questioning look like, “Who is this guy?”
His reaction scared the living day lights out of me. My heart was pounding and I didn’t know what to think!
When he saw my startled reaction, he apologized if he scared me. Then he told me that he had served in Viet Nam and had been very close to gunfire and had never been able to overcome those reflexes when someone caught him off guard. He told me that since he had returned home, he began collecting birds. Obviously he had found keeping them as a way of coping with the horrors he had witnessed.
He then collected his birds, said goodbye and left the store.