For the Birds

15 Aug

by Nancy Scott

Part of my brain is always looking for an adventure to write about. I start paying attention when the post office clerk says “Welcome to Friday,” as her computer freezes up.

We have already put the Free Matter for the Blind letter tapes and cassette library books into the outer mailbox. It is 9:05 and the postal windows have just opened. There are four people in line in front of us and we are in line only so my driver can buy one stamp. (She could have gotten a stamp from my house earlier but she didn’t think to ask me.)

As I’m now paying more attention, I hear a bunch of chirping little birds. I ask Terry if she can see them outside. Once I point them out, Terry hears them too. She says she can see out, but no birds. “There is a tree but it has lots of leaves and I can’t see if anything’s happening.”

“They sound like baby chicks,” I comment as I listen and do not move forward in line. The three people in front of us are not talking about the birds.  Are they hearing the cheepy cacophony?

But finally the computer prints and the next person advances. And I’m thinking that the birds sound like they’re inside the building. The computer freezes again and someone named Jen is told to go into the back to do something and then we advance again.

After about ten bird-filled minutes, it’s our turn. And no one has asked about the birds! It’s all just cheapest or quickest shipping rates.

“I just need one stamp,” Terry says and I immediately can’t not ask, “What are those birds and where are they?”

The clerk laughs. “Oh, they’re baby chicks somebody mailed and we’re waiting for someone to pick them up. Just one more piece of this morning’s excitement.”

Oh how I want to ask how you could mail something so obviously alive, but there are rustling people in line behind us who are also not talking and probably not smiling about the birds.

Is a chicken farmer the mailer or the recipient, or both? Who else might want all those fluffy little babies that I only associated with my childhood Easters? And how many chicks? And how were they kept cool in August? What kind of boxes or cages would they use? And how could all those sighted people not ask about the noise?

Sigh! I’ll never know, but I suspect there are a few stories here.

Things that just won’t leave a writer’s head have to be written down. They cheep and chirp until you let them out to grow up to be food for thought or breeding stock or someone’s pet.

So here I am, to ponder and wish with my talking computer. It’s still Friday and I have time for an article draft or two. If there had just not been so many unhappy, rushed people behind me. And why didn’t I ask what kind of tree Terry saw outside? And how many people were there in line behind us and what were they holding and how were they dressed and ???

Nancy Scott, Easton, PA, is a blind essayist and poet.  Her over 600 bylines have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and newspapers, and as audio commentaries. An essayist and poet, she has published three chapbooks. She won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. Recent work appears in Breath and Shadow, Contemporary Haibun Online, and Stone Voices.


One Response to “For the Birds”

  1. Donna W. Hill August 15, 2014 at 4:24 PM #

    Enjoyed this. It’s actually quite common to have something happening that no one seems to notice. The elephant in the room? The birds in the mail?


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