The Dancing Hamsters

I was traveling the Kingsway bus in Vancouver, Canada and was on my way home when a lady got on the bus with a small bus with Hagen pet products written on it. It was close to Christmas and the buses were packed with Christmas shoppers. The poor bus driver was going crazy trying to get everyone on and off the bus at their stops. Well, we had gone about three blocks when a high squeak came from the box the lady was carrying. She looked worried but didn’t want to look for fear that the bus driver would find out the contents of her box since pets are not permitted on the bus. A few minutes later a louder squeak could be heard from the box. This time she decided to take a chance and carefully opened up the box to find the two hamsters in the box were mating.

A little boy standing next to the lady also had a chance to glimpse into the box. When he saw the hamsters he said in a very loud voice audible to all. “Look Mommy, hamsters, and they are dancing!”

The bus driver (an older chap), went “Whattt!??!!” and pulled the bus over.

He walked slowly down the aisle, stopped right in front of the lady with the box and asked her if she had brought hamsters onto the bus. Before she could reply the little boy chirped up and said: “Yeah, they’re in that box and they are dancing!”

The bus driver very carefully opened the box to find that the contents were indeed hamsters, and that they were in fact “dancing”.
“Lady, I can’t have hamsters on my bus, and further more I can’t have them doing THAT on my bus”, he exclaimed in no uncertain terms.

“Oh, don’t worry”, she said, “when I get them home I’ll make sure that I separate them, and tell them that they are being naughty”.

She promptly got up and exited the bus through the back doors leaving behind a really bewildered bus driver and his passengers. We never found out if was her stop of whether she got off because she was embarrassed over her “dancing” hamsters.

Submitted by Barb Gibson, Vancouver, B.C.

Rat Patrol

Hank Eisenstein of New York supplied the following story.

It happened while I was still in high school. On one of my days off from school I decided to have some fun. Fun, in those days, was as simple as taking the NY subway somewhere, anywhere…

I was on the F train, the 6th Ave. local and I was sitting in the last car. AT 14 St. a rather large rat boarded the train. Besides myself, several other passengers observed the rat. Many who did retreated to the opposite end of the car. I, on the other hand, did not feel threatened by the rat and decided to remain put.

The rat poked and sniffed around some crumbs and garbage residing in the corners of the train. By this time we pulled into the 23rd St. station. The rat went to the door, stuck his head out, looked both ways and turned back into the train. I was fascinated. This was definitely a new adventure for me. I was aware that the NY subway is home for many rats but I had never actually seen one boarding and riding the train.

The identical scene repeated itself at the 34th and 42nd St. stations. It was interesting and entertaining to observe the reaction of people attempting to board at the door the rat was so confidently standing near. Some decided to board at the next set of door, while others even waited for the next F train, while other brave persons carefully stepped around the rat.

At Rockefeller Center the rat again poked his nose out the door, sniffed for a second, looked in both directions and decided to jump off the train.

I was left wondering whether he had paid his $1.15…Several similar stories do confirm that some rats actually utilize the NY subway to “commute”.

Pigeon Patrol

If you found the above story interesting you may enjoy the following report.

Reuters quotes on October 1st.,1995: First there were homing pigeons. Now commuting pigeons.

Readers of one of Britain’s most authoritative scientific journals have begun a debate over whether pigeons are using the subway – the Tube, as it’s known in London. Some have noticed birds hopping on and off trains, seemingly with destinations.

Sabiha Foster reported seeing a pair of pigeons getting on a train at one station, Aldgate, staying by the door and “alighting with purpose” at the next, Tower Hill.
“How did they know the platform for Tower Hill was the same side of the carriage as that for Aldgate?” she asked.

Hamster Haggle

Free rides for rats in New York, free rides for pigeons in London, free rides for hamsters in Birmingham, well……not without a struggle.

When Wayne Bass, an 11-year old student from Birmingham, took a hamster to school he found out that life can be a real pain when you run into the right (or wrong) bus driver. When he tried to return the hamster to school after a weekend of “hamster sitting”, the bus driver made him pay. The fare was more than the boy had to pay for himself, or about 75 cents. The driver was obviously not a hamster lover.

Following a complaint to the transit company it was determined that the driver was taking his job a bit too seriously and representatives of the company visited Wayne’s school in order to present him with a specially made free “Hamster Pass”. “Animal travel is at the discretion of the driver. But clearly, it does seem a bit silly to charge for a hamster that is under control”, a company spokesperson explained.

Getting the Bugs out

Getting the bugs out of high-tech transportation systems is very hard at times.

Japanese railway officials were embarrassed when an electrical fault incapacitated a commuter train, forcing almost 1000 passengers to transfer to another train.

When inspectors traced the source of the problem faces got even redder.

The problem was a cockroach trapped in a circuit box.

“I don’t believe anything like this has happened to us before,” remarked an official. “We already spray all our equipment with pesticides on a regular basis.”

A Fishy Story

Here is a real strange one submitted by Carol Edwards of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

The City of Oshawa is not considered large by Ontario standards, only 136,000 people. Situated on the north side of Lake Ontario, it has several creeks winding north through the city.

It is quite apparent that the ridership of the transit system seems to act just a bit strange on the night of a full eclipse or on the nights of the full moon. The night in question had the rare distinction of having both……

One of our routes runs to the north of the city, west over a creek then south through a quiet residential area. The bridge over the creek is not well lit at night and a favourite place for the kids to hide, and throw snow balls or eggs at passing buses. They always seemed pleased with themselves when they hit their target, as if hitting something as large as a bus requires amazing skill and dexterity.

On this particular night in September operator Jim Wilde was not at all concerned about going over the bridge as there was no snow and no reports from the previous driver of any problems on the bridge. Jim had crossed over the bridge and turned to proceed south. At the second stop south of the bridge, Jim could make out a student standing aback in the shadows, and it seemed like he was hugging something close to his chest. As Jim neared the stop the student did not move. Jim stopped and opened the door. He was just about to ask the boy if he wanted the bus, but before he could get the words out the boy raced up to the bus door and fired the object he was holding through the doors and ran up the street. Jim was stunned for a second, then he peered over the fare box to see what the boy had thrown on the bus. Staring back at him was a 30 pound slimy, smelly salmon. The boy had pulled it out of the creek and now wanted to get rid of it. A ride on Oshawa Transit seemed appropriate.

It did not take long before the bus to start smelling of rotting fish, but somehow it didn’t seem right to throw the fish out on the road even though he had no passengers, except for the fish…

Jim wanted to keep his bus on time. He radioed maintenance to bring a truck out to remove the fish.

At the next stop a young girl got on the bus and paid her fare. Jim was worried she might trip on the fish and told her “Watch out for the fish”. The girl looked down and let a blood curdling scream. She spewed out a string of curse words, and seated herself in the back of the bus, as far away from the fish as possible.

The fish was eventually removed from the bus, Jim was able to keep to his schedule, and the girl…she did walk to the front of the bus to exit as most of the teens do, she made a quick get-away out the rear doors.

The P.A. – Parrot

This is a brief summary of a story that appeared in the San Jose Mercury-News a few days ago.

There is a pet shop in San Jose that recently sold a parrot that was something of a celebrity among the bus drivers in this town. The store, located on one of the busier streets, and a bus route, had the parrot on display for some time before they sold it.

During its time on display it seems to have picked up some rather unusual vocabulary. Instead of the usual, “Polly want a cracker” or certain expletive remarks, it picked up a phrase that it heard many times during the day (around 50-60 times), “Line 22 Menlo Park”.

It seems the pet shop is right next to a bus stop and the parrot picked up the phrase from the enunciators on the bus.

Story forwarded by Eric Rosenberg and Colin Leech.

Frantic Fluff Flush

Pacific Coach Line driver Ralph Davis was pulling his bus into the Vancouver, Canada, bus depot when he heard a muffled meow. The bus had to be yanked off its scheduled run to Victoria in order to accommodate a search.

“We lifted up the hood and it looked like nothing was there,” said Greyhound courier driver Glenn Goguen, who quickly joined the 45 minute search with others, including PCL driver Terry Prescott. Eventually, four kittens were found in the cramped spare time compartment. They were taken to the Arbutus West Animal Clinic. There was no sign of the mother. Vancouver Humane Society volunteers bottle fed the orphans, but later found a nursing mother cat who seemed willing and eager to adopt the kittens as her own.

Mouse 415 – Jumbo 0

A British Airways Jumbo with 415 passengers and crew bound for London, was delayed for 24 hours when a mouse was detected on board prior to take-off. The flight was postponed because the aircraft had to be fumigated and technically checked throughout. Finding the mouse was crucial, for one, it could carry a disease aimed at unsuspecting Londoners and two, the stowaway could chew cables, insulation or passengers. Furthermore, it is against British Airways’ policy to give free rides to non-paying patrons.

Beating Buzzard Barf

The following story seems like a valuable lesson to all who use roads.

I had an upsetting experience recently.

A buzzard threw up on me.

I was driving on a back road in my pickup truck. A buzzard was eating a dead raccoon in the middle of the road. He was blocking the road and I had to stop. I honked the horn several times but he would not move. I got out of my truck and yelled at the buzzard to try to shoo him away (stupid mistake). He took off and flew about 10 feet over me and he he blew road kill all over me. I started vomiting violently, everything came up….breakfast AND lunch!!!When I was done, I ripped my shirt off and left it on the road. It was an expensive shirt but I just left it there.

I can’t remember the last time I was so sick. The garbage that was in that buzzard was like a horror movie gone wrong. Just thinking about it now, I can feel the bile rising in my throat and once again I feel like vomiting.

The moral of the story? If you are driving and find your route obstructed by a buzzard. DO NOT get out and try to shoo him away, he’s liable to toss the contents of his stomach over you. If he insists on being suicidal then just let him be road kill himself.

My problem is that I’m just too nice of a guy and don’t want to hurt any kind of creature. My niceness got me puked on big time.

Ralph Jones

Why Fly when you can Ride for Free?

NEW YORK – In the annals of strange subway stories — some urban myth, some alarmingly real — there has always been an assortment of animals. There are stories of alligators roaming the tunnels, of pet snakes loose on trains, of rats tough enough to survive the third rail. There are eyewitness accounts of live chickens, on their way from poultry market to soup pot, escaping from sacks and running amok through the Car Rentals.

Recently, someone posted a story on the Internet about a man in the subway walking a dog that was being ridden by a cat, the dog and cat dressed in matching Uncle Sam hats. (The story was accompanied by a photograph to prove it was not made up by Dr. Seuss.)

But one subway animal story has been so persistent and widespread that it simply cried out to be investigated: the case of the train-riding pigeons of Far Rockaway.

A little over a year ago, a motorman and a conductor on the A line, which terminates at the Far Rockaway station, swore to a reporter that it was true. They said it was common knowledge among long-time riders and those who worked on the line. Pigeons, they said, would board the trains at the outdoor terminal and step off casually at the next station down the line, Beach 25th Street, as if they were heading south but were too lazy, or too fat, to fly.

The inquiry began the other afternoon, when the question was put to a car-cleaning supervisor at the terminal. He appeared suspiciously nervous about the subject. “Oh, no,” he said. “Our trains have no pigeons.” But Andrew Rizzo, 44, a cleaner sweeping in a nearby train, looked around and smiled broadly, as if he were finally going to reveal his secret. The birds ride the trains all the time, he explained, motivated not by sloth but by simple hunger and ignorance: When the trains are at the terminal being cleaned, for about 20 minutes, pigeons amble through the open doors, looking for unnoticed crumbs. But being pigeons, they do not listen for the announcement that the train is leaving, and the doors close on them. They ride generally for one stop, exiting as soon as the doors open again.

“If you don’t know what’s going on,” said Rizzo, pushing his glasses up on his nose, “you’d think they knew what they were doing. It’s a little freaky.”

Rizzo has a soft spot in his heart for pigeons. They helped him make a living in Central Park in the late 1980s when he was less gainfully employed. He would wear straps with tiny cups of birdfeed on his arms and head and would soon be covered with pigeons, Hitchcock-style. He would put out a donation box, and pull in US$200 a weekend.

“I still feed them sometimes,” he said. “I feel bad for the little guys.” But he also admitted: “I run them out of the train. I don’t want them to make no mistakes, if you know what I mean.” Despite his efforts, they make many little mistakes.

Rizzo and many of his fellow employees at the terminal have become amateur ornithologists. They said that pigeons — known vulgarly as air rats, more elegantly as rock doves — ride trains at several outdoor terminals and stations.

Francisco Pena, a conductor on the A, said he watches them step off his train and promptly fly back to the Far Rockaway terminal. Perhaps not quite as impressive as the blue homing pigeon reported to have flown 11,600 kms from France back home to Vietnam in the 1930s, but still, Pena said, not bad.

Frank Maynor, a car cleaner, noted how the sparrows and sea-gulls, also plentiful at the terminal, are never bold enough to venture into the Car Rentals. The sparrows can be seen hopping onto the threshold, looking longingly inside. The gulls loiter outside, like thugs, waiting to tear pizza crusts from the bills of unsuspecting pigeons as soon as they carry them out. “They shove the pigeons around,” said Maynor disapprovingly. “But they’re going to evolve and start going into the trains, too. They’re giving up a lot of food to the pigeons.”

On the subject of evolution, Sarah Canty, another cleaner, said she had noticed the pigeons might be evolving into more alert straphangers. “When the bell goes off, you watch them,” she said. “They know the bell like we do.” And indeed, when the next bell rang, signalling that a train was about to depart, several pigeons could be seen high-stepping it out of the trains.

But there are those who have either not learned or are yearning to break free from the nest. And at 10:45 on Monday morning, it finally happened: A dark, plump bird with iridescent purple feathers around its neck took a ride.

Near the bird in the car was Eduard Karlov, a retired procurement officer for the UN.

Karlov, originally from Moscow, glanced at his fellow passenger and smiled. “He does not bother me, and in fact I find him rather amusing,” he said, adding, “I cannot give you any more details with respect to pigeons, however.”

Randy Kennedy – The New York Times

Outrunning Roadrunner?

There’s been another wildlife carnivore sighting in metro Portland, Oregon, but this time it was captured on film.
Officials with the Port of Portland managed to photograph a small coyote that boarded Tri-Met’s Airport MAX Line on Wednesday, around 1130 am. The coyote apparently boarded at the Airport Terminal Station. The coyote was discovered by Tri-Met staff. He was just curled up in a seat on the MAX.

“He was calm, he wasn’t really wild or anything,” said Tri-Met security officer Calvin Toussaint, who first spotted the coyote. “He was really sweet,” added Port of Portland spokeswoman Elisa Dozono.

“He didn’t growl or anything.” Port of Portland Airfield Operations and Wildlife staff lassoed the unexpected rider and released the animal on nearby airport property.
Port officials said many coyotes live in the PDX area and they’ve been aware of problems with coyotes in the past.

The reddish-brown little critter was apparently chased off the tarmac at Portland International Airport, so he hopped onto a light-rail train instead, Dozono said. The coyote was spotted darting under MAX trains arriving at the airport Wednesday morning, and jumped into a train that had just arrived from downtown Portland.

Coyotes go out of their way to avoid humans and are more likely to be afraid of people than vice versa, said wildlife experts.

Angry cat disrupts Rail Service

Police are looking for the owner of the stowaway, ornery kitty. A stowaway cat on a New Zealand train injured the driver so badly that a replacement driver had to be called in, disrupting rail services in the capital, it was reported Thursday.
KiwiRail said the driver discovered the cat after pulling into Wellington station late last week and was scratched so badly that he needed medical attention, The Wairarapa Times Age reported.
A replacement driver had to be summoned as emergency cover for the injured driver, KiwiRail spokesman Nigel Parry said.
“It’s very unusual. . . . when I spoke to the train manager after his hand had been bandaged up, he said he had been working in trains for four decades and it was first time he has been attacked by a cat,” Parry said.
He said the cat had been caught and KiwiRail was appealing for its owner to contact to SPCA to reclaim it. “We can also assure we won’t be charging the owner a fare.”

Agence France-Presse November 4, 2010

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