Matthew Miner

Do the Chickens Have Large Talons?

I mentioned that Napoleon Dynamite is the greatest comedy our world has known. I stand by that assertion. Of all its brilliant scenes, the one where he takes a job at a chicken farm is my favourite.

I like this scene because it echoes my experience as a country boy picking up odd gigs. Sometimes you didn’t know how much you’d earn until after you finished for the day. Often you were paid in cash. More than a dollar an hour, but not by much.

The one time I worked as a chicken catcher, I didn’t get paid at all. It was, incredibly, a fundraiser for our swim team. Someone found a farmer willing to pay a lump sum for the team to load a barn full of chickens onto a transport truck. Presumably the image of coaxing chickens out of their coop for a pleasant ride to their next home was charming. I was intrigued myself.

My dad, who briefly worked as a chicken catcher in his youth, came along. He was the only person who knew what we were getting into. I’m unsure if he volunteered out of a genuine desire to help or to snicker at the city slickers as they experienced the reality of farm labour. The stench eliminated some immediately. Others called it quits the moment the chickens started pecking them. Everyone vowed to never enter a chicken barn again.

I’m glad I work in tech now.