OF THE PIGEONS
HOW SLIM JIM LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE PIGEONS
and I were the first people down into this area when we first
discovered this system in late December of 2001. We'd been
walking through the arches of the tunnel for quite a distance,
and were pretty relaxed by the tunnel's regularity as we continued
the calm was shattered violently by a loud whumping barrage
of sound. I instinctively ducked. "What the hell was
a truck overhead," Danarchy suggested. "I felt sand
coming down on my head from the ceiling."
sound did not recur, and we started moving again.
Much louder this time around
statement about feeling the ceiling coming down on him must
have influenced my perceptions/interpretations, because for
a second or two I would have sworn the tunnel was collapsing,
and that the reverberating "whumps" we heard were
chunks of sandy rock hitting the soft tunnel floor. I was
only a brief moment, and I did not really even have time to
get frightened before I realized what the sound actually was:
you've ever heard a pigeon take wing, you know they are pretty
noisy. Now imagine this sound as totally unexpected and in
the environment of a silent tomb of a tunnel, and maybe you
can understand why it scared the crap out of us.
this was only the beginning of the Tunnel Pigeons' reign of
of exploration of the Bridge Room Tunnels later, we wound
up down in Pigeon Row again. We wanted to look out the hole
in the cement at the end of the tunnel to verify our location,
but there was a gang of pigeons skulking about down there
looking surly and tough.
Jim, being insane, armed himself with a sledgehammer (!) that
we'd found in the tunnel and advanced toward the avian menaces.
What followed was one of the funniest spectacles I've witnessed.
There are no pictures of this event, as no could stop laughing
long enough to point a camera.
this massive, heavy hammer, Jim began gently shooing the birds
out of the dead end and, back toward us. I don't know how
to describe this in terms that would do it any justice. Either
you can imagine a tall skinny guy in a dead end tunnel herding
6 or 7 pigeons with a sledge hammer, or you can't. And if
you can, you can either see the humor in it or you cannot.
Personally, I almost peed my pants, but I had the advantage
of being there.
anyway, Jim looks out the hole, and reports that we're right
under the end of the Wabasha Bridge. Then, since not even
Jim can crawl thorough an 8-inch cement hole, he starts back
toward us. This is where things really got nuts. See, since
he chased the pigeons away from the end of the tunnel, they
are now between him and us. They'd already learned to fear
the man with the hammer, and so they fled before him. Right
you might think you're pretty tough. You might even consider
yourself a bad-assed motherfucker. It's OK, I believe you.
But let me tell you a secret. There is only one reaction to
a pigeon flying at your head in a tunnel, and you'd do the
same thing we did.
scream, and, screaming, you hit the floor.
you get up and repeat this process every time another pigeon
tries to fly through your face. No matter how many times you
do it, this is still the requisite reaction. You do not become
jaded. When a pigeon flies at your face for the 10th time,
you scream just as loudly and hit the floor just as quickly
as you did the first time.
me. This is how it is done.
much screaming and ducking later, Jim joined us. Now we had
a long trek back through the tunnel
with the pigeons
ahead of us. They fled before us each time we got close to
them. A few of them got wise and flew back toward the hole,
evoking a whole new round of screaming prostration, but four
or five of the vermin continued their flight down the tunnel
every time we got close.
are not designed for delicate maneuvering, however, and although
they'd clearly tried to kill us, we nonetheless felt pity
for these simpleminded sky rats as they flew into the walls
and metal arches.
decided to blame Slim Jim for the pigeon plague, and elected
him to deal with this new problem. Suddenly turning into the
BeastMaster, he went ahead of us and, one by one, caught the
remaining pigeons by hand and set them down behind us. I'd
like to say his technique involved whispering to them and
hypnotizing the little snots, but the actual official Slim
Jim Pigeon Capture Technique involves stepping on their tailfeathers
and pinning them to the floor, which allowed him to pick 'em
up. Take notes! This is useful information for your day-to-day
Jim, pigeon herder.
that's that for the pigeon story. We came, we screamed, we
fell on the floor.