Looking up

As I walked from the embarcadero, I heard squawking. A plethora of people? Children?

No, it was the parrots of Telegraph Hill, roosting around the Financial District.

A video posted by Jenn Ng (@jennism) on

I paused for a second, in my rush to an event. I stared at the birds. An item on my bucket list, because I never was quite sure where to find them.

And there I was, drawn to the squawks. What struck me at the moment was not that I finally found the birds. But what if I had been like my fellow commuters on the BART, plugging our earphones in, listening to the same track over and over again on Spotify. What if I had submitted myself to simply blocking the outside world for my own “sanity”? And had completely missed this all?

On the way back from BART, I looked up 24th Street and spotted an unusual sight—a guy crawling on the side of a building, making his way to a partially open window. If he slipped, he would have fallen more than 15 feet past the awning of a restaurant onto the concrete sidewalk. I stopped and gawked. But people passed me by without a single turn of the head, absorbed into their phone. Maybe one or two followed my gaze. But so many, their voice shouting into their phone or their gaze locked into the bright screen at 8:30 PM. I watched the guy made it in successfully.

And one woman said to me, “What an idiot. He’s going to break his neck. Was he trying going out or coming back in?”

“Coming back in,” I said.

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