Traveling Salesman: The Chicken That Wasn’t

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Read This Confession To Me

I’m a traveling salesman; I sell replacement windows and permanent siding. Most of my appointments take me to far-away, remote (albeit not ‘exotic’) locations. And as a commissioned-only salesman, every opportunity to sit down with a potential client is an important one; I will do nearly ANYTHING to meet with a homeowner, and sometimes on very unusual terms.

One day at the onset of my career, I had an appointment with a farmer more than 2 hours from my home. I had dressed in my best suit, a freshly-starched shirt, and expensive dress shoes. But, as fate would have it, this was not appropriate dress for the day.

It had been raining all morning. By the time I arrived at the farmers’ home, his driveway and yard were a muddy mess. I exited the car and cautiously made my way to the door where I was greeted by Farmer Bob. Farmer Bob apologized for my long drive but explained that he was too busy to meet with me today. “Perhaps another time,” he said.

After having driven so far in inclement weather, I was not going to give up so easily. After-all, this was my only appointment for the day and the only opportunity I had to earn a commission. “Please, Farmer Bob,” I said. “What do I have to do to convince you to let me show you my siding?”

By now, Farmer Bob’s wife, their sons, and their daughters-in-law had joined us on the front porch. We had an audience and Farmer Bob was enjoying his chance to make this city-slicker squirm. After several tense moments of contemplation, Farmer Bob had a light-bulb moment. “I’ll tell you what, young man,” he said. “Do you see those chickens over there in the yard?” He pointed a gnarly finger toward the hen house which was situated in the middle of a muddy, feces-laden yard. I gulped. “Yes,” I said. “I see the chickens.”

With an evil grin, Farmer Bob told me that they planned to have chicken for lunch, but hadn’t bothered to fetch a chicken yet. “If you can fetch me one of them there chickens over yonder, I’ll let you come in and show me what you’ve got to sell.”

Not being familiar with the perils of ‘fetching a chicken” in the rain and the mud, I immediately agreed to his offer. It wasn’t long before I came to regret my decision.

After removing my blazer and rolling up my pant legs and my sleeves, one of Farmer Bob’s sons handed me a cardboard box and told me, “Good luck.” As I stepped down off of the porch and headed toward the hen house, I was almost certain I could hear muffled laughter behind me. Maybe it was the rain hitting the tin roof of the house.

In any event, I tip-toed across the yard, being careful not to sink too far into the mud with my expensive, new dress shoes and I opened the gate. I set my sites on a chicken that I thought looked like a good candidate for Farmer Bob’s lunch. Like a big game hunter, I hoisted my cardboard box above my head and began to stalk my prey across the yard.

Who knew chickens were so elusive?

As I drew nearer to lunch, that darn chicken went airborne and flew straight over my head. I had to duck in order to avoid a mid-air collision! If I didn’t know better, I’d say that bird intentionally tried to ram me! But I decided to look for easier prey; perhaps an elderly bird. Or one with a broken wing.

I noticed by now that each of my shoes weighed about five pounds more than they did when I had put them on that morning. My pant legs had slipped down and were dragging in the mud that was caked to my shoes. My freshly-starched shirt was wet, cold, and spotted with mud and chicken poop. By now Farmer Bob and his family were laughing openly at the city-slicker in the barn yard. Had they no shame?


After re-positioning my trap (aka cardboard box), I set my sights on another chicken with unkempt feathers. Surely, I thought, there must be something wrong with this bird. I was hoping she was sick and on her last legs. Easy prey, I thought. I was wrong.

That chicken sat there across the yard watching me as I approached. It moved not an inch. My hopes soared as I drew within a few feet of the bird. I was certain that in a few short moments I would be sitting down in Farmer Bob’s kitchen and making him an offer to re-side his home with my maintenance-free, permanent vinyl siding! The long drive, the chasing of the chicken, the humiliation of catching the Farmer’s lunch while being laughed at would soon be worth it. But it was all up to the bird at this point, and the bird wasn’t about to go down without a fight.

As I stood over that chicken and raised the box over its head, it suddenly let out a horrendous shriek and flapped its wings furiously. It flew straight into the air and tried to grab me with it’s sharp and pointed chicken feet! I must have screamed like a girl and turned away to avoid being scratched. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the chicken make a break for the barn and the chase was on!

Picking my way through the mud and the muck and the rain as quickly as I could, I pursued the chicken into the barn. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the sudden darkness, but then I saw that crazy chicken perched atop a fence post at the back of the barn. “There you are,” I told the chicken. “Come to papa! I’m not going to hurt you. Farmer Bob just wants to cook you for lunch!”

I raised my weapon (the cardboard box) and stalked my way toward the chicken. Again, she allowed me to get within arms-length before flapping her wings and taking flight to the opposite side of the barn. But I was determined and followed after her. This went on for several tense moments. She flapped her wings at me; I screamed like a girl. She shrieked and flew away; I stalked her.

Eventually she flew into a corner and I knew she was mine. I’m sure she knew it too, as she seemed to accept her fate bravely as she walked obediently into the box. I let out a yelp when the chase was over and I was carrying lunch across the yard and up the steps where Farmer Bob and his family was howling with laughter on the porch.

I must have been quite the sight to see; wet from the rain and covered in mud and chicken poop, I even had to laugh at myself. But I was ready to sit down with Farmer Bob and sell him some siding.

“Whatcha got in the box?” Farmer Bob asked.

“Well, I got you a chicken for lunch, Sir. Just like you asked me to do.” I replied. “Can we go in and talk about some siding now?”

“Maybe we can. Maybe we can’t.” he said.

I was perplexed. “What do you mean? We had a deal.”

“Why don’t you open the box and let us see what’s in there.” Farmer Bob said.

At this point I was ecstatic! I was only too happy to show Farmer Bob and his family the chicken I had caught them for lunch. Proudly I pulled back a flap of the box and allowed them to peek inside. “See!”

Their reaction was unexpected to say the least. At least one of his sons was doubled over on the ground rolling with laughter. The other ones managed to keep their feet, but were laughing just as hard.

“I’m afraid I won’t be able let you come inside, young man.” Farmer Bob said.

“But..but…but why not? We had a deal!” I cried. “You said that I could have some of your time this morning if I caught you a chicken for lunch.”

“That’s what I said.”

I was confused. “Then why are you not willing to live up to your end of the bargain?”

Farmer Bob chucked disdainfully and pointed at the box. “That there’s a rooster, son. We ain’t gonna eat no rooster for lunch!”

I opened up the box enough to get a good look at the bird inside. It looked like a chicken to me! But then again, I had never seen a chicken or a rooster up close.

“You’re free to take the rooster home with you, though. Think of it as a consolation prize. Have a safe drive home.”

With that, Farmer Bob escorted his family back into the house and left me standing on the porch with my consolation prize. I swear I can still hear them laughing to this very day.

I did end up taking that rooster home with me. By the time I arrived, my car smelled like rooster poop and tiny little feathers were floating all over the interior. I had to have it detailed several times to get them both out.