The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.

I’ve been opening and closing drawbridges for over 18 years. With this job comes a dirty little secret. It’s not something that they tell you about during the application process. Perhaps they should.

When you are operating what’s basically about a million pounds of moving concrete and steel, occasionally, there will be consequences. While most of these consequences are unintended, they can be unavoidable. I hate to say it, but I’m kind of used to killing pigeons by now.

It doesn’t happen often, but it happens enough to unsettle your stomach. You’ll be closing the bridge, and it will be slowly going down, down, down… and you’ll see an unsuspecting bird waddling toward a place that will soon only be fit for a tortilla. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Pigeons aren’t known for their intellect. These birds refuse to listen to reason. So, the result is death by drawbridge.

The worst part is when they get far enough into the machinery to clog it up. We call these pigeon shims. Then the bridge can’t be fully closed until the feathery corpse is dealt with, and by then, traffic has backed up for miles, and you have half the city screaming for your head. So you go from killer to potential victim in the blink of an eye. It’s rather surreal.

Yes, I’ve shoveled my share of carcasses. Fortunately, it’s much easier to operate the bridge while someone else does the grizzly part. I’m happy to say I haven’t had to face my dirty deeds head on in many years.

But if you own a sailboat and have ever requested an opening from a bridgetender, please bow your head for a moment of silence for the many pigeons that have given their lives for your pleasant day upon the sparkling waves.

Every job has its dark side. Mine just happens to be the callous murder of innocent flying rodents for your boating pleasure. Sorry about that.

Savannah, GA : Savannah River

Hey! Look what I wrote!

4 thoughts on “Pigeon Shims

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver says:

    Why hasn’t someone come up with a mechanism that’ll at least sweep them off the live-load-supports when it is coming back down, the mechanism itself being then pulled out of the way?
    I know you can’t screen off the whole in-under-there of the bridge, but…Just be glad someone gets to them before they…ripen.

    1. That’s above my paygrade. But I will say that the more moving parts, the more potential for malfunctions, and the more expensive to maintain. And as for someone getting to them, once, a Peregrine Falcon swooped in on the next opening and cleared the carcass for us! Thanks, mother nature!

  2. bridge driver says:

    Flying Rodent…HAHAHA!!

    I expect it’s darn near impossible to prevent every eventuality that might happen, especially with a bird willing to sit right where you just swept.

    1. Yeah. No two openings are alike. There’s a lot of potential for heaven know’s what.

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