A friend forwarded me a piece on the question: “Why did the chicken cross the road?” with answers purporting to come from such individuals as Dr. Phil and Oprah et al. George Bush even.
I admit: it was diverting enough. I suppose.
But even as I read it, something inside me was saying –wait a minute, this is not right, this laughing at the chicken’s expense….
[Full disclosure: I had two soft-boiled eggs and toast for breakfast this morning.]
So –I wrote her back:
“Very funny. A very funny idea.” (Sometimes you have to placate people before you Launch Into Your Thing….
I went on (Launching Into My Thing), and confronted my friend directly:
“I wonder if you noticed? Nobody actually took the time to talk to a chicken!”
“Why did the chicken cross the road?, you ask. You mean, don’t you, why did the Egg Worker Traverse the Highway!”
“I have talked to chickens, many of them road-crossers –I’m sure of it, if you really look, you can always tell. If you WANT to know. I do know what’s on their minds.”
” What could it be, you ask.”
“Well –think about it. I have a little exercise for you. Next time you’re in the supermarket, just go to the egg-section. Look at the price of eggs –$1.99 a dozen, $2.49 a dozen for large, brown “Nature’s Yolk” eggs. I’ve even see 18 mediums for $1.49. But let’s just say for the sake of argument, $3.00 a dozen.
“That’s twenty-five cents an egg. Twenty-five cents! One egg represents ONE DAY’s WORK for a hen. How is a hen or chicken expected to get by on twenty-five cents a day? 25c won’t even buy proper chickenfeed, and you expect deeply yellow yolks? (And don’t forget: $1.49 for 18 medium eggs is slightly over 8 cents a medium egg.
A medium egg? It’s not the hen’s fault an egg comes out ‘Medium’. It’s not like they’re not trying.”
“Your average working hen (and –by the way– why not give them the dignity of calling them by their proper name, “Egg Workers”) can’t afford the coop-rent anymore in an upscale Nature’s Yolk Free Range area. Let alone own your own henhouse, which –the Big Rooster keeps reminding us– is The American Chicken Dream.”
“So now you know: that’s why they’re crossing roads –to GET TO WORK!”
” And while I’m on it, let me just say: the time is coming when there’ll be no more “crossing the road” as you put it. Today it’s “cross the road” –like they were sauntering across. Tomorrow it’ll be ‘On the March’. And it won’t be ‘across the road’. It’ll be into the Public Square”.
“Which side are you on?
“Because soon it’s going to be too late for soft-boiled philosophical parlor-game amusements.”
“Soon it’s going to be too late to enquire of Egg Workers why they traverse highways.”
Think about it.