I arrived back home here in the hometown from a long summer trip to observe that we now have not one, not two, but three hummingbirds stopping by for breakfast, lunch, supper and numerous snacks in between. In other years, we’ve had just one or two at the most.
One bird continually chases the other two away. Sometimes one of the others will slip in and get a quick sip, but then the alpha bird suddenly swoops down from out of nowhere and shoos away the rival while chattering rapid-fire in an unseemly manner.
I don’t get it. There’s plenty of sugar water in my feeder on the porch. There are four flowers, or stalls, where the tiny birds can feed. There’s no need for the alpha bird to act so nasty and chase others away. But she does.
Why don’t hummingbirds just see the situation for what it is and just do their thing and sip at their own stalls and get along?
But no, instead they must compete, try to get their way, one-up, expend needless time and energy, and sow antisocial conflict. How stupid.
Now a little story.
Lucy and Ethel are good friends. They call and text and sometimes shop together during the lunch hour so they can not only get a bite to eat but also chat. They’re everywhere and anywhere together, it seems.
But one day Ethel finds Lucy throwing in a load of clothes just before they go out. And Ethel is shocked.
Ethel notices that Lucy has Cheer detergent on the shelf above her washer. Ethel did not know about the Cheer.
Back home, Ethel uses Tide. I think it started back when Darrell Waltrip was driving the Tide stock car and wore that bright orange fire suit that Ethel thought was so cute. So Ethel started using Tide.
Now Ethel starts getting a little defensive. “Why are you using Cheer?” she suspiciously asks.
“I dunno,” says Lucy while pouring some in. “Always have.”
“Don’t you know Tide’s better?” Ethel spouts.
“Oh, Tide’s too expensive. Cheer’s just as good.” Lucy starts getting a little defensive.
“No, it’s not,” Ethel retorts. “I know Tide gets out stains that nothing else will get out.”
Pretty soon the loving friends are delivering heated speeches about Tide inserting diabolic, steganographic messages in laundry ads and Cheer clandestinely importing Chinese carcinogenic acids for its detergent.
Ethel leaves in a huff. Will Ethel and Lucy ever go shopping together again?
Now, what’s the lesson of this parable? You know it’s not about laundry detergent.
Good friends everywhere are beginning to notice things in the laundry rooms of each other’s internet posts and such. They are learning that there is more to their friends than they realized. Things like others’ likes and dislikes, their comings and goings, their viewing and listening habits, their politics and ideologies.
News reports abound that dourly proclaim that we Americans are becoming increasingly divisive, angry and even violent. People are getting harder to get along with. I’ve lost my share of internet friends. And why? I’m just a furry little fuzzball!
And now we’re entering an election season. OH MY, as onetime Star Trekker George Takei might say.
Why can’t we just be satisfied at our own hummingbird feeder stall and let the others sip at their stalls with maybe an occasional wink and nod and without all of the bird chatter?
Sure, we’ve got to choose a laundry detergent at some point. And we will. But in the meantime why get so all-fired worked up over, essentially, Tide or Cheer as they compete for greater market share?
How stupid must the hummingbirds think we are.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.