As you know, I work in a store. That store is part of the largest mall in my area.

As a consumer, I was thrilled to hear of the mall’s development in the late 1990’s, shortly before we were to return to California. At the same time, I bemoaned the loss of undeveloped forest. I dreaded watching my new home developing into something that closely resembled my old home.

Just over a decade later, the area around the mall is still growing: other businesses, new neighborhoods, and who knows what else are springing up. Still, large tracts of undeveloped wilderness remain, including a water fowl impoundment around the nearby creeks. (“Free the water fowl!” I love to cry in my mind, raising a mental fist, whenever I drive by one of the signs.)

My point is, the wild world and the world of commerce co-exist in close quarters, although we often forget that as we go about our business.

My store is part of a long one story building directly to the west of the main mall.  We face an identical  building, with a wide walkway and tables between us.

I happened to be near our entrance a few days ago. The door was open. Over the sounds of  Muzak, shoppers’ conversations , and other ambient noise, I heard a vaguely familiar, but muffled sound. I glanced toward the door, and saw the beating of bird wings on the ground outside.

At first, I assumed  I had caught two pigeons en flagrante delicto. Within a few seconds, I realized that one of the “pigeons” was in fact a hawk. The beating of  wings continued. My coworker was a few feet away, working on a seasonal display of discounted  throws. I discreetly directed her attention to the scene outside. We watched in slightly appalled silence as the hawk finally got full control of the pigeon and flew away with it.

The sight was remarkable, but went unnoticed by the other half-dozen or so people in the store, and by at least as many passers-by outside. I am glad I alerted my coworker, or I would doubt that I had seen it myself.

Are we really so absorbed in our own immediate concerns that we can miss a life or death struggle as it plays out a few feet away from us? The answer appears to be yes.