He picked up the scissors again, took a deep breath and tried to relax.
“Ok,” he thought. “Let’s give this another go.”
With the material stretched firmly between his fingers and his eyes carefully focused on the mark, the tailor squeezed the scissor handles. And just as the blades sunk into the fabric…
“Dammit- you bastard!!
It was ruined. The tailor’s critical cut had been jolted awry by the crow’s untimely, startlingly loud, rude and ugly cry. The crow had been a nuisance all morning but this last incident had caused real damage. The tailor would have been better off working inside at his table, but the weather was too beautiful not to soak up, even if it meant cutting fabric outside near the pasture.
Unfazed and unaware, the crow remained on his branch, looking over the tailor and his botched handiwork as rage engulfed the craftsman.
“I’m gonna kick your ass you little son of a bitch!”
Not wanting to lose sight of his prey, the tailor called to his wife, asking her to bring him his bow and arrows.
He grunted a thank you to her, loaded the bow, aimed an arrow straight at the crow, and released the string.
The bird flew off. The arrow sailed high. And a second later, the neighboring farmer screamed with his own rage.
“What the fuck, asshole!”
The neighbor was at the tailor’s fence now, his face as red as the blood- tipped arrow in his hand.
“Shit! Did I hit you?” The tailor was shaking.
“Not me. But my pig is dead. What the hell were you shooting at?”
“I was…. there was a loud crow and I…”
Looking at the tailor’s work table, the neighbor put the rest of the puzzle together on his own.
“You screwed up your work because some bird was pissing you off, so you shot an arrow at it, and killed my pig instead? Jesus Christ…”
The tailor was silent. His carelessness, ill- logic, lack of patience and bad temper had spoken for him. They convicted him of being selfishly wrapped up in his own situation, unaware, and unconcerned about the effects of his actions on others. These are the characteristics of a four year old, yet the tailor was an adult.
He should have known better. He should have controlled his anger. He should have just taken his work inside.
But the tailor had done none of those things, and the innocent paid the price.
This is my retelling of a classic Nova Scotian folk song called Old Carrion Crow. During my years as an elementary school music teacher, I used this song to help young students understand that actions have consequences, and that irrational behavior often brings collateral damage. Of course, I did not use the language I used in this post!
But how many times have we been impacted negatively by the ignorant actions of others? How often have our lives been endangered by an aggressive driver, blowing by us at 100mph or zig-zagging around cars on a crowded freeway? How many times have we been the one losing control, putting others in danger?
The American mindset right now seems to be that of the tailor: outsized self- concern coupled with a complete unawareness of others not in their immediate circle. Are we the nation of toddlers we appear to be right now?
This post was inspired by the catbird who hangs out in my backyard- shrieking at me in his ugly voice as I try to relax and my hammock, reading. I admit, I yelled at this bird and even threw a small berry at it- but I didn’t shoot any arrows. For those interested in the Old Carrion Crow song, check out this video- these kids do a nice job!
For my other recent post involving backyard crows, read Asshole Crow.