The first time I saw a pigeon on my balcony, it was a bit of a surprise. This is Los Angeles, after all. Vultures, ravens, these are the winged beasts the subconscious expects to be hovering above the urban sprawl. Pigeons belong in New York, strutting through Central Park among senior citizens with breadcrumbs and no immediate plans.

It looks innocent enough, perched there on the pale green metal railing, head bobbing slightly as those beady, burnt-amber eyes peer across the hazy morning sky in search of large statues and freshly washed cars.

I watch another land, then another. After a moment of ruffled adjustment, they begin bobbing in near unison, a feathered Three Tenors in a final run-through before the opening-night curtain. It is early Sunday morning, and nary a car alarm blares in the stillness; the only sound is the throaty cooing of my winged guests. Then they are off, rushing quickly into the slight breeze coming down from the Hollywood Hills.

Balancing coffee and newspaper, I step out onto the balcony, the sprayed concrete surface rough under my bare feet. Eyes still focused on the soaring trio, I take another step toward the chair…

Ew.

Murphy’s Law: The nearest cloth or towel deemed appropriate for the removal of…any unpleasant substance will be located in the drawer furthest from your immediate location. If said substance is located on one or both feet, a freshly cleaned carpet will somehow come into play. It is a tribute to both the low square footage of my dwelling and a lack of serious knee injuries that I am able to complete the journey in nine well-balanced hops. And a trip to the steam-cleaner rental house will not be necessary.

The coffee grows cold as I wash the last trace of my morning visitors from the balcony. Fifteen minutes is not a great amount of time in the scheme of things, and coffee can always be freshened up. But that single squishy misstep puts a sour taste on the rest of the morning.

In nearly every issue of FCI, some reference is made to the final stage of an installation: The cleanup. An installation may be of the highest quality from the first measurement to the final trim. But once the installer leaves, if a homeowner is left with a trail of remnants and packaging atop their newly installed floor, then the pleasure that they should be feeling at that moment is not as sweet as it should be. Fifteen minutes spent cleaning up at the end of an installation can result in a client who lasts a lifetime.

Since that initial encounter with my ornithological nemeses, I’ve come to accept some truths. Patio furniture can be cleaned. Shoes were made for a reason. And that as soon as a pigeon, by whatever action, is able to cast a shadow upon an entire day, that is the moment professional counseling should be sought out.

Quickly.