Coffee heat rising

Of Retail, Runners, Recession, and…Birds?

Yesterday I ordered a few things from Costco via Instacart. One of these was a 50# bag of birdseed. I’d sent them a message that I’d have a wheelbarrow ready, so we could just slide the bag out of the runner’s car into that and I’d roll it into the backyard — with the exception of one young male, most of their runners seem to be willowy young women.

What shows up at the door are not one but two joyous, hefty, and energetic lesbians. I say, I’ll bring round the wheel barrow. One of the women says no problem, I’ll carry it…where do you want it? 

So I let them in the back gate and the gal lifts that massive, inert sack of bird seed and strolls into the backyard with it like it weighed about as much as a three-month-old. The other one is the chatty type, and so she and I are having a good time yakking. I end up thanking them mightily for the hauling job (and giving them a generous tip). The chatty one says they just moved down here from Vegas because they couldn’t make a living up there. They got laid off their jobs in those gilded precincts and started working for Instacart to keep food on the table…and not much food. She said Instacart has a minimum payment to their runners of $7 per trip. But time after time, they — the two wymmen — would get orders for something in the range of seven bucks. So that means that if Suzie Q orders $7 worth of goods from Sprouts, Instacart makes nothing on the transaction.

Nothing!!! Think o’ that!

And think of what it implies for the runner: Here in lovely Phoenix, it takes me about 10 minutes to drive to Costco…5 to park and hike into the store. A typical Costco store covers about three acres. Let’s see…hmmmm… You trot to the far end of the store and you buy a bag of toilet paper (if you can find it), picking up stuff along the way: 15 minutes. Now go back out, 5 minutes to the car, after standing in the check-out line about 8 minutes. Now another 15 minutes to get to the customer’s house… That’s almost an hour. Seven bucks an hour…and you pay for gas, wear & tear on your vehicle, and car insurance out of that. If I’m not mistaken, you’re now deep in negative territory…

Here Instacart has a minimum order of $35…or at least, that was what I understood. Maybe that’s a local policy? She said they were already doing better here than  they were in Vegas, anyway.

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A-A-A-N-D this morning it’s another amazing adventure here at the Funny Farm! 😀

Ruby wanders out into the front courtyard where what should she find but a baby bird on the ground. Looks like an infant mockingbird. Or thrasher, maybe. The bird panics when Ruby goes over and sniffs at it. I call the dog off and pick up the babe, literally seconds before the watering system kicks in.

It’s frantic.

Bring it into the house and tuck it into an old checkbook box.

My neighbor Joel is out in front, teaching his high-school kids online. I annoy him by breaking into whatever he’s doing — because I know he and his kids have rescued wild birds before and think maybe the high-school has some kind of program for said rescue. He says no, he took the last bird down to Liberty Wildlife… South of two freeways. South of the river. Deep in one of the dankest slums this side of Albuquerque.

Ohhhhkayyyyy…. I try to figure out if there’s an alternative.

…Not so much.

Secure the nestling inside the box with a loosely wrapped paper towel, so air can get in and (i hope…) the bird can’t get out. Fortunately, it’s too exhausted and terrorized to try to escape. Climb in the tank, tune in the cowboy station, and start drivin’ drivin’ drivin’…..

Ohhhhh dear God, i hate driving in Phoenix….

But it’s not the usual teeth-jarring horrible drive. Only two morons cut in front of me. One idiot marches purposefully against the red light across a major intersection. Two construction zones. One really sad, heartbreaking bum, so, sooooooo stoned, one would say stoned out of his head but he apparently was out of his head to begin with, and so skinny, like either he never eats or the meth really burns the calories for him or maybe a bit of both. One pimp, dressed to the nines with his hair dyed orange, strolling past a strip club. Two railroad crossings, thank God neither of them occupied by stalled freight trains. Only one 737 shriekin’ in low across south 24th Street. Traffic relatively light. All in all, not a bad day for a drive.

Get down there and find the place with no problem. There’s only one person in front of me at the drop-off window, also turning in a lost baby bird.

Chat with the staff. The front desk supervisor told me they’d probably take in a hundred baby birds today.

Why? There hasn’t been any wind to knock them out of their nests…whaaa?

“It’s just the season,” says he. This happens every spring. And, he added, Liberty Wildlife takes in TEN THOUSAND BABY BIRDS A YEAR!

Holy mackerel!

It’s a huge facility. I gave them a little donation.

And drivin’ away thought…..hhhhmmmmmm….. If I have to drop out of choir because of the covid sh*t, that would be a place to volunteer.

So I’ll keep that in mind.

10,000 lost chicks a year. Think of that!

Eight Dogs and a Bird

Make that eleven dogs: add in Cassie, Ruby, and Charley.

This morning I needed to make a Walmart run fairly early in the day, so as to buy another package of giant pee pads with which to protect my floors from Cassie’s incontinence. In fact, she’s getting a lot better. But not having to mop up great Salton Seas of urine and then disinfect the lake beds made such a difference in the human’s misery quotient that I determined not to run out of the things.

Charley, who’s visiting while M’hijito junkets in Colorado, also tends to defile the floor…but not with pee…

Leaving them here unobserved so soon after feeding time was ill advised. So I did something even more ill advised: decided to leave the back door hanging open while I was out, so they could come and go as nature called.

It was, after all, pouring rain. Not likely any burglars would be working in that deluge. If they were, they would earn whatever they stole. 😀

So yeah. No burglars came visiting, but another intruder moved in: a hummingbird flew in the back door. Once in the house, he flew up into the kitchen skylight, where he became hopelessly, despairingly confused. He could see the sky through the cloudy glass, and of course, being a bird he figured that WAS the sky. But being a bird, he could neither figure out why he couldn’t get through it nor figure out that he needed to go DOWN, not up, to get out of his trap.

This is the second time such a thing happened. Last time, some years ago, I called Liberty Wildlife. The volunteer I reached this morning was dubious. In the pouring rain, all their distressed-critter rescuers were hunkered down, and believe me: NONE of them wanted to venture into the downpour.  Quite reasonably so.

He asked me to call back after 11, when a different volunteer would be on duty and more folks might be available to call on.


So I called several other rescue organizations, some of which could not be reached at all, some of which had endless yakathon/ear-splitting Muzak phone trees (how i HATE those things!) that were so discouraging that after five or ten minutes I’d hang up, some of which just didn’t answer at all.  Game and Fish greeted me with the familiar electronic run-around. Called the Fire Department’s non-emergency line. They suggested Game and Fish. I said I thought not. So they suggested the Humane Society. The Humane Society’s aggravating yakathon said they’d answer the phone in about ten minutes and then blasted an even MORE infuriating loud fake music at me. I couldn’t turn the sound down on the phone-set low enough to make it less distracting or less infuriating. Finally I realized that the Humane Society is less than ten minutes away from me. So jumped in the car and drove up there, where I found a roomful of live human beings. They suggested Game and Fish. 😀

Back at the Funny Farm, I called Liberty Wildlife again. The new wrangler on duty said they really weren’t supposed to rescue birds that weren’t large enough to harm a person.

Heh. Do you suppose I could persuade them that the hummer was trying to poke my eyes out with its long spear-like bill?

She agreed to call some volunteers, having identified the person she thought was closest to the Funny Farm. But she wasn’t sure she could round him up.

So that was pretty discouraging. I figured I’d just have to wait until the little bird became exhausted and dehydrated enough to fall to the floor, at which point it would die.

But no! Not too much later, along comes a phone call from a man who says he’ll be right over!He lives in the mid-town area, and seemed not to be fazed at the prospect of driving through the rain to rescue a hummingbird from a strange woman’s house.

LOL! Liberty Wildlife has come through!

He arrives at the door. Cassie, Ruby, and Charley, all three of ’em, fly into an ecstasy of Dog Joy upon greeting the guy. They clearly think this is the single best human they have ever seen on this planet, bar none. He introduces himself as Chris. The dogs apparently interpret that as “Christ”: they are now in full-out worship mode.

Chris says he loves dogs. He and his wife have eight of them, several of which are rescues. I say I found Cassie at the dog pound, where she’d been relegated because she barks. He agreed that barking was surely a unique trait for a dog…

I’ve already hauled the ladder in and wiped it dry. Takes Chris about thirty seconds to snab the hummer in one of those nets you use to lift fish out of water. I make a mental note to get one of those next time I’m near the sporting goods store. Bird delivered to the Great Outdoors, it takes off like a feathered rocket, chirping furiously.

So that was good. Sent them a little donation as a token of appreciation.

That and the fact that Cassie is getting much, much better were the only decent things that happened today, a true, certifiable Day from Hell.