LONDON – Well it finally happened. I’ve been trying to calculate what the odds were that I could pass through the city without it happening to me. I guess I can put away my calculator watch, because it has happened.
That’s right, on Thursday a bird pooped on me. Twice. On my way to work.
In a cruel twist of British irony, I had begun that day with a simple epiphany: that mindset can guide your day to be whatever you want it to be. Life is life but your experience is your outlook upon life’s happenings.
So onward I marched to work – bumbling my way through the shaky Tube, tripping up steps, tripping down steps, purposefully directing my thoughts toward the positive. And in response, the things that usually cause me to scowl brought a smile to my face. The sun was shining and I was singing – a little louder than usual, which drew stares. But hey, I was thinking positively. And the results were grand.
Bring it on, I dared the world.
And promptly, the world responded. With a quick splat, my entire mantra was brought into question. My experiment of sorts was brought to its crux. The hilarity of it all overwhelmed me and I laughed under the bird-filled tree in the empty walkway to work.
“It’s good luck!” A straight-faced passerby yelled to me, “Think of it as a good omen.”
With this in mind, I went to work, washed off thoroughly, and went about my day – periodically laughing at the absurdity of my morning.
This, I’ve come to learn, is a symptom of London culture. People simply don’t take things personally here. It’s smart, really. If you latched on to everything that could ruin your day, every day here would be a nightmare.
When you travel on a stuffed-to-the-brim Tube to get to work every morning and have to navigate across honking streets with cars that don’t stop, taking things personally is a doomed path to take.
It explains why, when I walked into the office with white streaks down my front and in my hair, my coworkers barely gave pause. When I told them the (what I thought was) hilarious and exciting story, the thrilling conclusion was not met with shocked gasps and exclamations of, “No way!” As it would have been in any self-respecting American office, but rather with casual stories of their own under-bird misfortunes around London’s best known landmarks.
Apparently, getting pooped on is just another bit of London life. Much like being perennially delayed on the District line, getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, or realizing that tights are a mandatory part of the British wardrobe even in 65-degree weather.
As they say in the edited-for-TV version of Forrest Gump, “Stuff happens.”
While studying abroad, it’s easy to get caught up in the rollercoaster of emotions that encapsulate your experiences. It’s easy to forget that stuff just…happens and that it’s not personally aimed to destroy your day. Forgetting this fact seems to be an art perfected by sensitive Americans and, as a result, perfectly good days can be ruined by a stranger’s glance, a malfunctioning iPhone, a bird pooping on your head.
This city is full of beauty and beasts alike. The key is to not take the beasts too seriously.
After all, it’s not personal – it’s London.