And now for something completely different….
I work just outside of a major metropolitan area. But, like most cities, we’re fairly compartmentalized – once you get outside of the beltway, you’re in the wilderness fairly quickly. We’re only about 10 miles from a large city, but very quickly, the 4-lane highway dissolves into a two-lane road, and you’re driving past fields and farms in short order. When we have visitors coming out to the facility, part of my directions include “drive past the chicken farm and over the train tracks, then turn left.” And the directions are accurate. There is a legit free-range chicken farm not 2 miles from work. Unlike the legend, these chickens seem to know better than to cross the road…
…unlike the turkeys. But more on that in a sec.
Over the last few years, our metro area has had some challenges with an overrun of Canadian Geese. The geese are awful. They’re loud: HONK HONK HONK EVEN AT FREAKING 6 AM YO. They’re messy: They leave droppings everywhere – on walking trails, in parking lots….and these are large birds, so they leave a LOT. And they’re extremely territorial: Once they decide to nest somewhere – a watershed, a man-made lake, the base of a light post, between lanes at the bank drive-up window, RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR WORK EXIT…you can forget about using that space for anything else. They’ll hiss, honk, chase, AND BITE you to get you to stay away. Trouble is, some ding dong marked these suckers as “protected” – so you can’t (legally, coughcough) shoot them. So they crap all over everything and terrorize us as we DARE cross the pavement trying to get to the safety of our cars. Fortunately for me, I can move pretty quickly in 4″ heels, so I haven’t been pinched in the calf by a ticked-off goose…yet.
Since it’s finally looking like spring around here, unfortunately, the geese are starting to come back. However, to their credit, the geese have acclimated to people enough to understand traffic, for the most part. They generally tend to stay off the roads, save the occasional exception where a family is crossing with hatchlings. SUPER FUN when you’re late to work and all four lanes of the beltway come to a screeching halt to avoid flattening the baby pest parade. <eyeroll>
So, while we’re used to the geese, we seem to have a new addition to the wildlife assortment this year: wild turkeys. I suppose they’ve always been in the area, but for some reason (global warming? food foraging? running for office?) they seem to be more prolific as of late.
On Monday, I left for work feeling pretty accomplished – because, this past weekend, we FINALLY took down our Christmas tree. (Yeah. I know. I procrastinate, what can I say?) But my mood went south as I noticed that my 25-mile commute was heavier than usual. With the arrival of spring comes the return of everyone’s favorite travel season…ROAD CONSTRUCTION. So one of the major highways I take was reduced to two lanes. The annual appearance of orange (just like the first winter snow, first thunderstorm, or any display of flashing lights) turns everyone into a COMPLETE FREAKING MORON. In this state, we merge “zipper style.” This means that you use ALL lanes up to the merge point, and then take turns merging. Believe me, this is CLEARLY marked and there are signs ALL OVER THE PLACE, but I swear, once you put people in the safe cocoons of their cars, they lose both natural fear of being struck AS WELL AS THEIR FREAKING MINDS. So merging (which the locals cannot figure out; it’s not car dancing, SOMEBODY @$#$%!NG GO ALREADY) slows everything down for miles and (obviously) gives me mild road rage.
<pausing to breathe slowly into a paper bag and go to my happy place>
So once that was behind me, and I got off the main highway, I was surprised to find a similar backup at a traffic light a few miles later. The cause of this backup? A very confused turkey. Right in the middle of the intersection. Poor thing was just wandering around aimlessly, taking its time going absolutely nowhere, and having no clue (or care) that it was making pretty much everybody irritated and late.
I eventually got to work. (Fortunately, no one cares what time I get there.) And as I was juggling my coffee, my smoothie, my giant purse, and my lunch as I headed towards the front door, I found that we had a visitor.
So on Monday, he just wandered around the main entrance. He watched people as they came and went, and was generally a source of entertainment for everyone.
On Tuesday, Luke (come on, he TOTALLY looks like a Luke, doesn’t he?) was back…a little bolder, a little badder. He decided to engage us all in a game of hide-and-seek that no one knew they had been invited to play. The rules: Hide behind something – a car, a transformer – and when a person comes by, jump out in front of them. Fortunately for me, I have a main-floor office right by the front door, so I got to watch several folks jump out of their skins as they turned the corner and were face-to-face with a giant bird.
After most of our employees had arrived for the day, he decided, like most good performers do, to up the ante. He flew up to the roof of the building (OK, I knew turkeys could fly, but up to a 3rd story?) and proceeded to sing us the Song of His People. For his stage, he chose the corner just above the (ironically appropriate) CEO’s office. GOBBLEGOBBLEGOBBLE GOBBLEGOBBLEGOBBLE…for a full half-hour as he splayed his feathers and strutted back and forth, showing off for everyone.
Unfortunately, Luke’s thirst for danger was increasing. On Wednesday morning, I got a report from our 2nd shift customer service department: the night before, when one of our new hires went outside for a quick smoke, Luke decided to turn hide-and-seek into a game of tag. He managed to chase this poor woman around the corner – and when she screamed and jumped up on the picnic table, he followed her there, as well. (I am VERY SAD that our security camera cut off the feed as she turned the corner. VERY. SAD. Why have a security camera system if you can’t catch instant YouTube classics like this?!)
Time for a strategy meeting. (Because, when you work in HR, turkey removal is part of your job description, right?!) My suggestion – that we blast him with pepper spray and roast him over a company bonfire – was rejected. (Why? People are starving in this country, folks!) We decided to ask our publisher (our company owns and runs a hobby magazine as well) what he might do, because our publisher is one of those absent-minded-professor-crossed-with-a-hipster types who is quirky, deeply intelligent, has both an extensive vocabulary and an insanely quick wit, and has had a deeply rich and fascinating life and knows something about pretty much everything. So we figured he’d be our best bet in turkey eviction.
He responded to the challenge immediately, with enthusiasm and vigor. “No no NO! You CANNOT let the turkey chase people. It has now established dominance over people and will never leave. You can’t run from it. You gotta be BIG, you gotta be LOUD, and you need to BE THE ALPHA!” He then stomped into the lobby and grabbed a six-foot walking stick that was inexplicably leaning there against the grandfather clock (seriously, the random things you find in family-owned businesses) and rushed outside.
Luke was strolling at the side of the building. The publisher glared at his target. He sturdied his stance, as a baseball player staring down a star pitcher, mentally preparing to hit a home run.
He shook his hips, and beat the stick onto the ground, once, twice…three times, eyeing his opposition menacingly.
Then he raised the stick over his head, screaming a battle cry that he probably learned from studying ancient Viking slaughter rituals, and took off full force after Luke. “GAAAAAAAAAA GAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWW GAAAAAAWWWWW”
Right in front of the executive suite, and in full view by the conference room holding a meeting with international vendors.
I love privately held companies.
Luke ran around in circles for a bit, attempting to charge some onlookers, but they gamely stood firm in “looking big”. Defeated, Luke flapped his wings and retreated to the roof.
Twenty minutes later, Luke waltzed up to our main entrance and took a massive dump just outside the door. (“Oh look! He signed up for direct deposit.”)
Since chasing the turkey with a stick proved to be SUPER EFFECTIVE (uh…notsomuch) a couple other folks decided to give it a shot. (We’re always looking for creative and innovative (read: free) additions to our wellness program….) One lady, bless her heart, just wasn’t in peak turkey-pursuit condition. Luke barely glanced at her over his shoulder, slowly taking a couple half-hearted steps away from her as she waved the stick, approaching him with what can best be described as a very determined stroll.
As she quickly ran out of breath, she passed the stick to our champion athlete (he rollerblades marathons for fun. FOR FUN.) This dude, as lean as the stick he wielded, ran back and forth across the grassy areas of the site for a good twenty minutes, waving the stick, and dodging and weaving like someone avoiding gunfire (just to keep the turkey guessing…? I cannot imagine what was going through this turkey’s head.) Eventually, he managed to successfully chase Luke off the property and across the street.
He was back an hour later, pecking at dead bugs off everyone’s license plate, looking up and gobbling at me through my window every time a train went by. (Even the turkeys complain about the working conditions. Sheesh.)
Sadly, it was time to admit defeat.
But not for long….wild turkey season opened on Thursday.
I like to think that Luke retreated and went into hiding, and that he’ll come visit us again one day. Maybe we’ll try to coax him out of hiding to come say hello at our next board meeting. Judging by what the board said about my last compensation proposal, I think he’d really bond with a couple of our members.