Free Chicken

On my way to work today, I found myself trapped behind a chicken truck on Sunset Blvd. (the one in West Cola, not the one in L.A.), from I-26 all the way to Columbia Farms.

First, for those of you who haven’t had this experience, banish from your mind any bucolic image of "chicken truck" as the Clampett mobile with several chickens perched up on Granny’s rocker. This is a tractor-trailer in which the full three dimensions of the trailer are taken up with individual cages — sort of a poultry skyscraper on wheels — with uniformly white and miserable-looking chickens on their way to their doom, with billows of white feathers and a foul stenching streaming off the entire load.

The rig was well ahead of me, but not so far that I wouldn’t end up inhaling its miasma at a traffic light if I didn’t either pull over and let it go well ahead, or pass it. The preferred method would be passing it, but since it was apparently doing more than 50 in a 40 zone and seemingly accelerating in that downhill stretch past Hummingbird, that didn’t seem doable without both a) speeding and b) getting closer to it with no guarantee of getting past it. So I hung back — and ended up directly behind it at the stop light at 12th St. Of course,  I closed my vents.

And it was at that moment that I realized what I had been listening to on FM 102.3 since I had first come upon the truck. Yes, ladies and gentlement, it was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s anthem "Free Bird." Near as I can tell, though, none of the chickens were holding up their cigarette lighters as the song approached its climax.

The folks in charge of the soundtrack of my life have an affinity for irony, you see.

During the final instrumental portion, I turned off onto 9th St. So I wasn’t there for the chickens’ big finale.

13 thoughts on “Free Chicken

  1. Lee Muller

    What? Listening music, and not Barack Obama mumbling and stumbling without a written speech, about his Top Secret Super-Duper Economic Recovery Plan that he has for the automobile manufacturers?
    Every time I listen to Obama fail to finish a thought or sentence, I wait for the media to notice that he is so much less articulate than President Bush.

    Reply
  2. mattain

    Try driving past the plant during a shift change. It’s amazing someone hasn’t been run over yet. That place needs to GO!

    Reply
  3. Bart

    Brad, your limited time driving behind the truck is a pleasure cruise compared to a visit to a chicken processing plant. Believe me when I tell you that one trip through one will leave you with a diminished taste for our feathered friends, at least for a few weeks.
    What you really need to do is stand on a platform where the “liquified chicken fat” while still at a high temperature is loaded into a tanker. WOW! Even some of the hardened veterans avoid the loading station.
    Anyway, see you at KFC. :)

    Reply
  4. Bart

    Brad, your limited time driving behind the truck is a pleasure cruise compared to a visit to a chicken processing plant. Believe me when I tell you that one trip through one will leave you with a diminished taste for our feathered friends, at least for a few weeks.
    What you really need to do is stand on a platform where the “liquified chicken fat” while still at a high temperature is loaded into a tanker. WOW! Even some of the hardened veterans avoid the loading station.
    Anyway, see you at KFC. :)

    Reply
  5. David

    I had a guy come into my auto parts store once and tell me he’d just seen a major accident on the interstate and that there had been hundreds of fatalities.
    One of these chicken trucks had overturned.
    The jobs in these chicken processing plants are some of the most dangerous jobs around as I understand it. Sharp knives, germ ridden chicken flesh, heavy machinery, repetitive tasks performed under terrific time pressure…it’s a recipe for disaster.
    I am thankful I don’t work in one of these places.
    David

    Reply
  6. Brad Warthen

    I don’t eat chicken — I’m allergic to them.
    I’m also allergic to eggs — much more so. The chicken allergy is more like what most people think of when they say “food allergy” — itching, runny nose, etc., if I eat some. The egg allergy is way more serious, in the life-threatening category. I have to be extremely careful not to eat anything that even MIGHT have a little bit of egg in it.
    And no, I don’t know which allergy came first.

    Reply
  7. p.m.

    Wow, Brad, I hadn’t seen your statement when I wrote my preceding question. I guess you saw my question coming.
    Why did you go to Carolina if you’re allergic to chicken?

    Reply
  8. bud

    I was going to invite Brad to an eggnog tasting party but I guess that’s out. Eggs are in everything (pancakes, cakes, many processed foods). How do you avoid them?

    Reply

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