By Sarah the Intern
I knew this day would come…kind of like how you know you’re going to have high blood pressure some day, or heart disease. Eventually it’s going to happen, but as long as it’s not today there’s no reason to worry. The three of us, Brandon, Melissa, and I, were gathered in Melissa’s office for our morning ritual of complaining about mornings. Melissa mentioned that she really didn’t want to talk today…and then she looked at us. Brandon and I glanced nervously at each other. This was it. We could feel it coming.
“Why don’t we have one of you do the presentation today!” Melissa said in a cheery voice. Here it was. My heart disease. “Which one of you wants to do it?”
Brandon and I looked at each other and shrugged in a way that said, “I don’t really care. I’ll do it if you want.” I suppose I can’t speak for Brandon, but I totally did care and I did not want to do it. Unfortunately, I have little talent for maintaining awkward silence. I opened my mouth and uttered what has become my catchphrase over the last three weeks. “I’ll do it.” My fate was sealed.
It’s not that I didn’t know what to say. I had spent the last three weeks standing around listening to Melissa and Rose (one of our volunteers) tell folks all about our birds. I knew the facts, and I also knew that there was a good chance of me forgetting at least half of them during the presentation. I, just like every American who went to college, was forced into taking a speech class. The class taught me that public speaking makes me shaky, as well as the difference between vegan and vegetarian. Was I comfortable speaking in front of crowds of people who had no idea that I am just a lowly intern who had never even held a bird until three weeks ago? No. Could I do it well anyway? We were about to find out.
We were standing at the bottom of the Draper Museum. We had one more person than we did birds. The rule in this case is that the speaker is the one who goes without. I was just standing there, birdless and awkward, trying to coax my hands out of my pockets. It wasn’t working. I had hoped that perhaps it would be a small crowd today. No luck. People were crowding around the stanchions and sitting on the floor to make room. Fantastic.
As the time ticked closer to 10 a.m., my hands emerged briefly to rub against each other nervously, before once again retreating to the safety of my pockets. I suddenly recalled a story my Dad had told me years ago. I won’t tell it here so as not to keep you too long. The point of the story, however, was that if you can pretend that you’re fine well enough and long enough, chances are that you will be fine.
So, for the next twenty minutes, I pretended to be Melissa. I pretended that I did public speaking like this all the time. This was just another day at the office. Furthermore, I enjoyed public speaking. This was fun. I remembered when I had gone to the Tetons and helped fellow tourists find moose. This was not public speaking class. This was wildlife. I love wildlife, and I love telling people all about it. These were not strangers. These were people who wanted to learn about wildlife. That alone made these people more than strangers. For twenty minutes, those people were my friends.
And it worked! I got through the presentation just fine. I remembered most of the details and the people listening seemed to enjoy themselves. A couple folks even told me afterwards that I did a great job. So next time you have to do something uncomfortable, just pretend it’s the most comfortable thing you’ve ever done. You may be surprised by the results.
It has been a crazy busy week here. We had a total of three special showings at two libraries over two days. Needless to say, Teasdale was displeased. Fortunately, all of the birds took it in stride and did really well. I went to my first ever staff meeting, which was really boring. I am happy to report that another meeting straightened out some of the details for the real pay-to-see shows. We start those today so wish us luck! Teasdale is making his peace with the amphitheater, and Isham is continuing to be unconcerned with everything. Hayabusa is starting a new diet which we hope will encourage her to perform some behaviors on stage, and adjust her recent negative attitude towards being picked up. The most interesting news is Suli, who has become smitten with my fellow intern, Brandon. The first time she got up on his glove she spread her wings out and decided to stay. She loves it when he comes in to visit her in her stall. Needless to say, I’m a bit jealous. Suli does tend to prefer the guys.
Well, that was another long one. I suppose that’s just how I post. Sorry 🙂 Be sure to tune in next week for another thrilling adventure in the life of a bird intern. Until then, have a great week.
Falconry terms in layman’s terms
Falconry Terms: To attempt to fly off the fist or perch when held or tied, typically when frightened or when trying to reach an object (food or perch).
Layman’s terms: When the bird on your hand decides that this nonsense is overrated and decides to leave, totally forgetting that the two of you are tied together. The end result for the bird is usually a brief time upside down (sometimes including yelling at you), followed by a huffy, less-than-dignified climb back on the glove. The end result for you is a Facebook post about being punched in the face by a peregrine falcon.