luck (and bird shit)

m. werneburg, 1998

I've always been a lucky fellow, and never really understood why. Then a Chinese-Canadian friend of mine once gave my two explanations.

  1. I have a dragon tattoo
  2. I keep getting crapped on by birds

At the time, I didn't know that bird shit was considered lucky, but it's as plausible an explanation as I've got. Because it's true: I get crapped on by birds rather a lot. It's been thirteen times, now.

1. The first time I was shit upon by a bird was in the mid 80's when my brother and I were 'swimming' in a river in western Alberta. Swimming being a loose word that better might be replaced with the expression 'floating down an extremely rocky river with our shoes on lest we cut open a foot or break/twist an ankle amongst the rocks in the fast-flowing water'. A good Alberta tradition—this kind of floating is carried out during the brief Summer weeks when the weather is hot and incredibly dry.

We had come upon a bridge. I decided I didn't like the looks of the water conditions beyond the bridge, so I stood. No sooner had I straightened up in the knee-high water than something appeared on my—then untattooed—chest. I looked down in surprise at the narrow white strip that extended from near my shoulder to almost my swim trunks, and realized I'd been shit upon. My brother and parents, standing by the car on the gravel bank, all thought it was hysterically funny. I simply started in disbelieve for a moment, then sank back into the water.

Looking up, I could see distant birds amongst the beams of the bridge. I guess it was just... luck. That night, I found a spider cooked into my pie. That's right, I found it before I ate it. If that's not luck, I dunno what is. We went on to have a fine time, taking in the Frank slide and the rest of the sights.

2. The second time I can recall being crapped on by a bird was about eight years later, when I was heading to a pub with my brother Ken, his wife-to-be Heidi, and my friend Kamil. We were downtown in sleepy old St. Catharines. A goddamn pigeon crapped on my shoulder. But we had a good time, so the birdcrap hadn't hurt.

3. A couple of years passed. Then one day, I was riding up the elevator in Toronto's First Canadian tower, and I noticed two coworkers from a different floor (which meant they were from Marketing or something like that, and might as well have been from a different planet) were staring at my coat and smirking at one another. It was a winter coat with broad lapels that habitually flopped forward, so I couldn't see what they were looking at. I stepped off the elevator, and as I headed to my desk, I had a look at the far side of the lapel. It was bird crap, and it was at least several hours old, as it had hardened to a crumbly consistency.

I wasn't please that I'd been walking around the city for God only knew how long with birdshit on my jacket, nor was I impressed with my dull lifeless coworkers that said nothing. Birdshit is difficult to get out of wool, let me tell you. As for the Marketeers or Customer Service staff or whatever they were; that's Toronto for you.

I cleaned up and laughed about having been crapped on three times in one lifetime. Then I got a better job and never again saw a place staffed so thoroughly with the likes of the drones in that elevator. Definitely a bit of luck, actually. The job I went to remains to this day the most fun I've had on the clock.

4. About three years later, I was late for a corporate training course, and moving quickly. Somehow, I still managed to get nailed. Happily, I was wearing my by-then aging Gore-tex jacket, and getting the shit off was a breeze. By odd coincidence, a fellow from Arthur Andersen I'd worked with some months prior named Baskaran happened to be in the washroom of the same hotel, taking the same course. He approached me to share in my laugh over my (mis)fortune as I was running the place out of paper towels. I might add that birdsh*t doesn't come out of Gore-tex terribly well, either. The course turned out to be quite good, though. Helped along, no doubt, by my sacrifice to the avian gods.

The above article was written in 2001. What comes next... happened next.

5. Update: 2002.02.16
It's happened again. This one occurred as I was walking down Robson Street in Vancouver. I was crapped on rather mightily, by a crow this time. Mercifully, crow shit is no worse than the gull or pigeon variety (I'd always imagined it would be utterly more foul, for some reason). And I was wearing, of all things, my rain coat. Oh frabjous day. Maybe now I can find a job!

6. Update: 2002.08.18
Well, six months and two days later, I've still had no luck with a job (or with much else, actually), but I have had another dose of bird shit. This time it was on the beach as I was about to approach a woman who I'd noticed had the same dragon tattoo I've got. I had just tucked away my camera to walk over to where she was lying with her husband, when I felt something hit my leg and crotch. I looked down, and there was a large dollop of rather dark birdshit about two centimetres to the right of my fly. Another, even larger smear graced my leg about ten centimetres above my ankle. It was the biggest shitting by a bird to date.

After struggling to get it cleaned up with sandy saltwater, I decided I was no longer presentable enough to go chatting to strangers on the beach (what an image that would have made, someone fully dressed with a stained wet patch in the crotch asking about women's tattoos—I passed on the idea). Definitely the worst bird-shitting to date. Hopefully of a lifetime. I don't know what luck befell me next.

7. Update: 2002.11.09
Toronto. This was another of the charming episodes where I didn't even notice the event. It was my friend Charlie that pointed out that I'd been crapped on just as we entered a cemetery to take some photos.

Three times in one year is too much, honestly.

8. Update: 2004.07.02
Halifax, Nova Scotia. I don't know how I got through 2003 without any bird crap landing on me, but my (un?)lucky streak seems to be over. It happened today as I was on my way to pick up a rental car. Some small bird got me right on the right wrist (say that ten times fast—heh; maybe it was a wren).

I am, by now, resigned to a lifetime of this.

9. Update: 2006.11.08
Thailand. This time, I even have a photo. We'd just finished eating at a small stand beneath a highway overpass, where office workers go for some cheap and quick grub. Sort of an outdoor, tropical mono-cultural food court. We'd eaten our nice light dishes, and had stepped back into the street. Wending our way through the human and vehicular traffic, a gust of pigeons washed over us. A slight sensation at my knee caused me to look down... at some fresh shit.

To the laughter of the locals, I retrieved a tissue or two from another food stall and poured some of my bottled water on it to rid my pants of the kind of stain with obvious crusties. Later in the evening I managed to get most of the rest of it out. Then I wore the pants for the next three days, almost continuously.

A fine way to start married life.

10. Update: 2007.11.08
A year later, in a different city in a different Asia country. It was an enormous load, easily among the top two (along with the unfortunate incident at the beach). Probably a cormorant, or possibly a crane. Something that ate lots of fish, in any event. It hit me right on the shoulder, like an egg cracking. Three centimetres to the left and it would have gone inside my cycling jacket and ruined the shirt I was wearing for the day at the office. Ten centimetres higher, and it would have splashed across my face.

me, hit with bird shit

11. Update: 2012.07.28
It's been quite a while, but it's happened again. A bird above me was doing that type of "stalling" where it looks like it's going to crap. I watched it warily, and didn't see it unload. But it did; it got my shoulder and someone pointed it out to me. Just a tiny dot, about one square centimeter or so. This is the first time in nearly five years!!

All in all, a lucky crapping indeed. And a nice bit of luck to welcome our little Emma. Waittaminute—did I really go through the first four-and-a-half years of my son's life without any bird crap? Maybe the kid's a good luck charm!

12. Update: 2013.04.18
Oh, bother. It's picking up speed again. This time I took it on the collar and shoulder, a smear of white shit that spattered pretty badly because I was at speed on my bike at the time.

13. Update: 2013.08.21
So is this daughter of mine some sort of talisman for bird crap? Or is there a numerical explanation—do I only get crapped on by birds when I have zero or an even number of kids? Anyway, it's happened again and to be honest it was a "dream" shitting. A fat circular splot on my right thigh just in from my knee as I sat on a beach having a picnic with some friends. It was a herring gull, a member of that species that blesses Toronto with its charming presence year round. It had just taken to the air two or three meters away and I believe it hit me because I wouldn't part with any food. But it was okay: even the secondary splatter was OK; just a dot on the opposite thigh. Given that the bird missed some open food containers and missed our little Emma's head by about twenty centimeters, I'll consider this a "perfect shit".

13a, a possibly bird-crapping, 2013.11.27
The weather's been suddenly colder, and today I was tromping around in my boots and parka after picking up my son when I noticed that the shoulder of my parka had a suspicious white area on it. It was the right size and color for bird shit. I can't think what else it might have been, because it wasn't warm enough for melt-water, but a) I never saw a bird and b) it must have virtually liquid because it was a thin stain indeed and without any real lumps or residue or darker grey splotches.

So that's my run of luck with birds.

luck and deserving

Buddhists say things like Wise people know that everything they achieve or fail at in life are only consequences of their own actions and thoughts. But I disagree. I haven't done much with my days, but my luck remains pretty good. There are hazards in every life, but I find that in broad terms, I've managed to stumble into everything I need: health (mostly), shelter, food, education, employment (um, mostly), and now a woman who'll share her life with me and a son who's happy and healthy and great to know. That this is owing solely to my own actions seems a little far-fetched.

On the other hand, it's seductive to think that I was just such a great person in a past life that my just reward is the good life I'm currently living. Perhaps I could accept the fact that I'm just that deserving. But I think I'll instead make a quiet nod to the birds and keep one eye on the sky.

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reader comments
gravatar for stephen zirattu
birdshit and good luck
One afternoon back in the Fall of 1982, I was walking home from college along a canal in Miami, Florida. I heard a two or three screeches that sounded like they were coming from behind and above me. As i looked up, I was flown over by a great blue heron. It passed over my head and dropped a load of shit in front of my face (but not on my face, fortunately).



Only a few months later--just after sunset on Tuesday, March 8, 1983--I was walking home from college and heading toward the same canal. Just after I had passed a library, I saw a blur, and then I felt a splat on my forehead. A seagull had just dropped a shitload in my face, and on my shirt. Even my belt-buckle had poop on it. Seagulls congregate at a garbage disposal site just north of where I was messed on. I had to walk past a shopping center with the crap on me in full view. Night fall saved me from what should have been an embarassing moment.



On the Monday of the following week, I learned that I had passed a Physical Chemistry test. Until then, I was failing Physical Chemistry. The birdshit was a sign of good luck.



On the other hand, small birds pooped on my head twice in 1996--once in late August, and again in mid-October. I lost my job on the same day in both instances. I believe that the culprit in the mid-October incident was a crow.
stephen zirattu
2002.02.22
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Oh, this made me laugh. I feel better for having just gotten it on my clothing/body.

-Michael
gravatar for Richard Seabright
luck
Hi Michael,



Just got crapped on and immediately thought of you.



How's that book coming?



Rich (formerly of St. Catharines)
Richard Seabright
Oshawa On, Canada
2009.03.12
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Heh, heh! I've got 'top of mind awareness' when it comes to bird crap?



The book's on hold; too much else on the go.
-Michael
gravatar for Kathy
This is so funny! Why am I even reading your story about being shat on 10 times? My boyfriend and I were walking around a lake this evening (in Florida) and a cormorant was up in a tree over the path and shit exactly as we were walking under the tree and we both got sprayed with it! I sure hope it brings us some luck - we could sure use some! LOL I thought you might enjoy this old joke I found a link for - "The Foo Bird" www-personal.umich.edu/~bbowman/birds/humor/foo_bird.html
Kathy
2011.04.12
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Thanks for sharing your comment, and that joke. I'm slightly worried that my long run of getting crapped on abruptly ended some time back .. it's been eerily quiet since.
-Michael
gravatar for Rene A.
Since i read this story , my wife feels a lot better. she thought she was the only one that had been hit 4 times in 25 years... Happy Crapping (Europe is not safe either) Cheers!
Rene A.
2012.10.31
gravatar for Michael Werneburg And happy crapping to you! 8^)

The funny thing is that it's only happened once in the last four or five years. I'm getting paranoid.
-Michael
gravatar for kathy
I don't know you nor believe in luck but I read your awesome story and I really believe your blessed. Some people have it easier than others but your optimism so wonderful. Today while walking to the store a bird popped right on my face and into. I was astonish and right when I thought of getting upset I just laughed at how great of a sense of humor God has :-)



I had it tough most of my life but Im hoping that bird poop is some sort of a sign of a breakthrough.



Anywho, have a blessed life and thanks for your post and optimism :-)
kathy
2012.11.09
gravatar for Michael Werneburg That's a great attitude, Kathy. I've tended to laugh them off as well. The first was a great gob that ran right down my chest and stomach. I just sank into the river where I was standing and had a chuckle. Never had it in the face, though - ugh!

And may your life be blessed as well. d_(-.-)_b
-Michael
gravatar for Claudia
Omg the funniest thing happened to my friend today. We were eating lunch in our school quad, and my friend tapped my shoulder and asked me if there was something on her shoulder, I look and saw a small size of seagull crap, while laughing I helped cleaned it up for her. Then after a minute or so I was looking up trying to stay clear of the bird, I saw another bird shit, just in time to hit my fried AGAIN! Omg this time it was big. I couldn't believe it. It was so funny and awful at the same time. She was shy on twice on the same day within minutes I mean what r the odds??
Claudia
2013.01.24
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Wow. I guess the lesson is not to linger: once shit-on, twice shy!

Thanks for sharing the story.
-Michael
gravatar for cj
Hey Michael,



I live in Tasmania and work at the New museum called MONA, its a busy job where we welcome thousands of visitors every day. Needless to say we all need a relaxing "knock off" drink after work andck into a bean bag with my beer....BOOM! A huge seagull shit crashed down onto my left upper arm and ricocheted onto the pink bean bag. I was with a group of a dozen work colleagues who all witnessed this event and most where grossed out. But my good buddy and manager reminded me of the good luck aspect of this improbable event. Instinct to avoid embarrassed me to immediately wipe the shit from my arm onto the bag, but I now wish I allowed it to remain a little longer for a closer inspection of the luck bringing material. Fremory it was pale green and white, a little watery and seemed to be comprised of pchip. Anyway, it also caused me to remember that the preen shit on at the beach. Same arm just a little lower, same bird? I doubt it but now I'm reading your hilarious blog and I am excited to count myself in with the lucky crew! Also, my hands are tingling, but this could just be due to texting..ha! So now I will wait for the double dose of good luck to appear. I can sense that that someone, somewhere is about to give me a superyacht and a Carribean island for nothing, as the bird has already paid.
cj
2013.03.03
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Hi, CJ;

One of the benefits of being repeatedly crapped on by birds is that it eventually stops bothering you at all. Which I suppose is good for people who work with the things!

Thanks for the note, I could just see the situation you described unfolding. "Of all the luck!" ;^)
-Michael
gravatar for Tom dodaro
I was on a short vacation in Palm Spring, California attending the tennis tournament in Indian Wells, when an earthquake occurred. I guess it was some kind of sigh?? While sitting in the stands of one of the stadiums, everyone looked up to see this beautiful flock of birds flying in several large formations. Maybe stirred up by the earthquake. All of a sudden the lady behind me informed me that I was hit with some bird shit on my nice red shirt. Oh well I figured it was just a continuation of my unfortunate events in my life!

Then....I saw on TV the bird on the smoke stack in Rome and the selection of the new Pope, Francis (the bird Saint). Now I know how fortunate I am to have be selected by the birds, out of the hundreds of other fans at the match to be blessed by the birds. Red shirt like the Cardinals wear,

Yes, I am waiting for the good news to come, I hope soon.

Tom Dodaro, Lincoln California 3/18/2013
Tom dodaro
2013.03.18
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Good for you, Tom, that's a very positive story! Thanks for sharing your story.
-Michael
gravatar for Jason Rood
Found your page by googling "a bird pooped on my head" as this just happened to me in Chicago today (for the first time).



I also have a dragon tattoo, so I expect many more run-ins with bird shit over the coming years.



Cheers.



Jason Rood
2013.06.19
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Welcome to the club, Jason!
-Michael
gravatar for Damola
Lol I am actually trying to quit drinking.on Friday I had to walk past my Fav bar and go home, it was really tough but I did it, a few minutes after some birds flew over Me and dropped poop On me, landed on my arm and laptop bag, it felt like God Pat me on my back.
Damola
2013.07.07
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Outstanding attitude, Damola! All the best in realizing your goal.
-Michael
gravatar for Jules
This article is hilarious!!...I was laughing out loud about your "moron co-workers" not telling you! such a great read..truely made my day! I had an interview today and then walked around the park and city for two hours before going home and just as i walked through the door.. there it was comfortably laying on my shoulder.. a miniature mushy brown look-alike dog shit! i could almost see the steam coming out from it...no idea how long its been there! I REALLY hope I got the job!!
Jules
2013.07.11
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Well if there's any truth to bird shit bringing good luck, then you'll have landed the job for sure. 8^)

Thanks for leaving a comment,
-Michael
gravatar for Tawny
I stumbled upon your article after someone on the street told me that a bird crapping on you was considered good luck. I'm still not convinced it's good luck, but sir, I believe you deserve an award for getting crapped on so many times and having such a great attitude about it!



Yesterday, I was standing next to my car parked next to a meter covered in bird crap. I didn't think much of it until something hit my head. Mind you, I have long brown hair that hits me mid-back. I put my hand to my hair and pulled out a giant wad of pigeon crap. I screamed so loud that the entire street probably thought I was dying. Needless to say, I spent the end of my vacation standing on the side of street having my bf pour a water bottle on my freshly washed and styled hair. We didn't end up going to lunch because I was too upset.



If it is considered good luck, let's hope that it carries over to my job interview in 2 days! Either that or it saved me from getting food poisoning at the hot dog place we were about to eat at. Oh and oddly enough, I have a dragon tattoo too, though I can't say I've been crapped on so generously as you've been. Let me tell you though, trying to wash out bird crap from your long hair is not an easy or sanitary task. Maybe we should invest in hats and raincoats.
Tawny
2013.08.19
gravatar for Michael Werneburg You know, it almost happened to me again the other day as well; I held a door open for some colleagues and a pigeon just above crapped all down the inside glass surface of the door. Still, I'd rather be cleaning that then my hair.

All the best with the job interview. You've got your secret good luck weapons - you can't miss.
-Michael
gravatar for travis davis
I have a bald head an today on the way to mu moms house a bird shited right on my bald head , I said whst luck an smild at myself as I look for something to take it off so I'm waiting for my luck an then I thpught Im alive an well an going to spend the day with my mom so I guess that my luck.
travis davis
2013.09.30
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Gotta laugh and brush it off. Glad you kept smiling, Travis, what else can you do?
-Michael
gravatar for virgin to shite
I got shat on today - perfect end to the perfect month. I had the worst luck ever... until I got shat on! I searched in google cause I wanted to see how people reacted to being shat on. I laughed it off (im a virgin to bird shit). But damn your blog is pretty damn inspirational. Thanks!
virgin to shite
2013.10.25
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Correction, anonymous stranger: you were a virgin to bird shit. Welcome to your deflowered state.
-Michael
gravatar for OldyButGoody
When I was a little boy back in the early 1960s I got p1ssed on by a small bird as we were shopping at an old Five-And-Ten. I've been crapped on by birds at least twice already - at one time pigeon poop landed near my left eye and almost blinded me as I was crossing Wall Street in NYC. Today, I just got crapped on again as I was waiting for the start of a junior high school flag football match.



Don't care what anyone says - this does not, I repeat, does NOT bring good luck. Perhaps those who get a good laugh out of it or the bird themselves may get a kick out of this but d@mn it, it's annoying to say the very least, can be very injurious if it lands on your eyes, and is terribly messy, too.



OldyButGoody
2013.10.26
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Great comment, anonymous visitor.
-Michael
gravatar for Brandelyn
Okay, haven't seen one like this yet, so here goes: when i was 16, my boyfriend and I were fooling around in a park at night. My hand was in his lap (if you know what I mean) and he was, um, exposed to the elements. Suddenly a huge plop! Guess where? Yeah, so my hand and his yoohoo were COVERED in runny, lumpy, gray and white shit. He immediately leaned to the side and started retching, while i rolled on the ground laughing. Suffice it to say that the romantic mood was ruined.
Brandelyn
2014.01.05
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Poor bugger. Thanks for leaving the anecdote, that was a good chuckle!
-Michael
gravatar for David
today, its the second time I am being crapped by birds shit when riding bike.
David
2014.02.18
gravatar for Michael Werneburg Sorry to hear it, David!
-Michael
gravatar for aramby
Michael,



For your info, this canadian lady had about the similar numbered as yours.



http://www.legalnomads.com/2014/07/birds.html



aramby
2014.07.29
gravatar for Michael Werneburg So she has, thanks for pointing her out. I'll contact her, maybe we'll start an institute. 8^D
-Michael
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