Sunday, February 3, 2008

The other side of the coop - 2

Stu Winggen was thinking about change as he glanced up at the picture of Cynthia P. Coque in the hall of honor. It had been only a few seasons since he had started in the coop as the Chick Advisor but it felt like a life time.

Hiring Stu had not been an easy decision for the coop. Not only was Stu the first rooster to be hired – he was also the first one to focus on chicks. Of course Stu's extensive training at Columbia Birdfeather College had been the convincing factor. In actuality, as Stu quickly found out, it wasn't that the coop thought it was wealthy and could afford a staff member who focused entirely on the younger birds. No, it was the fact that the rest of the coop was far too busy to look after the proper well-being of the chicks themselves. On top of that they knew that chick culture was changing – things were a lot different than when they were chicks themselves. Frankly, they were afraid that their chicks would wander off in this new cultural milieu and get lost.
Cindy's young dyslexic chick wandered off one day and joined a flock of ducks as an act of rebellion.
She was convinced it was because she had been too soft on the little bird – always letting him eat from the adult hen feeder. Angie's little chick was into hormone 'therapy' and she had had to call in the authorities for suspicion of an overdose. Melanie's little birds had formed their own cock fighting team and eventually had moved down to Mexico. Everyone suspected it was because of the violent chick flicks she had let them watch as little birds. Of course there were Sally and Tamara, the daughters of Rhoda Landred. Even though Sally and Tamara were adult birds they had not laid a single egg. In fact no one had ever seen them 'with' a rooster – at all – EVER! People suggested that this was because Rhoda's rooster had left them years ago – and without a father figure…

So they had hired Stu. And basically it became very clear what his job was – help the chicks turn into decent hens and roosters. Hens that laid eggs and meshed well with the life of the coop. Roosters who… …Well nobody knew what roosters were supposed to be like. Keep them out of trouble. That was his main job. Too many times he felt like all he was doing was chicksitting – but he was diligent at his job. He used his training to plan activities and programs that helped the chicks navigate the dangers of the new cultural stresses. He hung out in the chick barn and even went to the incubator every so often. He established a real connection with the birds. He became an expert counsellor and helped many a chick get their life on track.

Stu had a flaw. He thought his job was supposed to help all the chicks that came into the barn even the ones who were ear marked to go and live in other barns. He didn't care – he worked with them all. After all, he figured, the birds who would leave the comforts of this coop would need extra care and attention as they would not have all the supports that the 'home' birds would have. Well that did not sit well with the hens – they did not say much to Stu because they were nervous that he would leave and then their chicks would have no left to care for them.

That's how things had evolved. Stu had come in as a Saviour and in effect the parents had let him do just that –save the chicks. This meant, conveniently, that the hens began to evacuate their role as parents' altogether. So although they did not appreciate everything that Stu did with and for their chicks, they had really come to depend on him. And if he ever sensed that the hens were not being supportive enough he'd take on the weekly pep and remind the hens of all the horrors of chick culture. Round and round it went like that.

That's why he was thinking about change…