Every day at lunch I take a walk on the esplanade. On sunny days, everyone’s happy, I get to pet a few dogs and watch the duck party, wave at a sailor or a gondolier, it’s great. On cold days, though, everything takes on a weird poignance; I’m one of only a handful of people there, maybe one of the only people to ever notice or see certain things. The marriage proposal written in chalk, for example:
Or some of the very first blooms: Yesterday, it was a limping Canada goose. I inherited what my grandmother calls my mother’s bleeding heart for animals by the side of the road, under bushes, in danger of being attacked by a hawk, you name it, so when I saw this goose limping I called Animal Care and Control, who I have on speed dial. They forwarded me to the state wildlife line, who apparently knew exactly which goose I was talking about (“He’s been there for a couple weeks,” the guy said); then I was transferred to the lady who knew how to talk to someone who called up to ask them to help a limping goose. The answer was “no,” but not in a sad/we-don’t-care way, in a we-know-what-we’re-doing-and-this-is-best way. She explained that they’re federally protected animals (I forgot to ask why – I know they’re not endangered, but maybe they’re on federal land? They’re such a pest that the federal government doesn’t want you to help them? Unclear), that they’re very resilient (we both laughed), and VERY hard to catch (another laugh). Basically, unless the goose is chasing people or looks ill to the point of contagious, they do nothing because after years of trying to find the right thing to do they’ve determined that doing nothing causes the least harm to the goose. I was completely satisfied with this answer. What struck me was that after a little over half a semester in Evaluation of Information Services, I seem to have much more faith that an institution’s way of doing things has developed through methodological trial and error. I’m always pretty likely to assume that the person who should know more actually does, but a year ago in this same situation I might have lost sleep that night, wringing my hands over the limping goose, but I didn’t. I also was conscious of how much I appreciated this woman’s willingness to take a couple minutes to talk to me about why they weren’t going to do anything, and how much that little effort on her part meant to me. I did thank her for that, which I think she thought was a little weird.