Chicken Bin


It was dinner time and the Curmudgeonly Lion had picked me up at work for our weekly night out and we needed to decide where to eat. Having just flown to Chicago and back over the weekend, we were acutely aware of our budgetary constraints and decided to stop into a nearby Ralph’s to get something quick and easy.

The Bistro counter inside the supermarket was doing a brisk business of selling chicken dinners so we took a number and waited our turn in line. Two pieces of chicken, two sides. Dark meat for me, white may for the Curmudgeonly Lion. Baked for me, fried for him. Spinach for me, fries for him.

We both got the macaroni and cheese.

The tray for the fries was empty by the time we ordered.

“I can make more,” the counter worker said. “It’ll take about ten minutes.”

We decided to wait: we weren’t in a rush. We stood beside the counter watching the goings on in the store and making small talk. Nearby, an oven full of rotisserie chickens began to beep, alerting the chicken lady that they were finished cooking. She approached and silenced the alarm before opening the oven doors and lifting out the rack of golden, glistening chickens- six in all. She was a diminutive woman, and the rack was nearly as big as she was.

Thump. She landed it on the counter, dislodging the chickens with the force of the blow.

Kerchunk. The end most chicken struck the counter and bounced, magnificently, straight into the trash can: lost for good in a single second.

“Oh! Lost my chicken!” The chicken lady laughed unselfconsciously. “Straight in the bucket!”

I was relieved that she didn’t seem upset: I would have been- a perfectly good chicken gone to waste! But there was nothing to be done: it wasn’t like she could pick it out of the trash and dust it off and pretend it had never happened. It was just gone. We just had to let it go.

But it still bothered me even after we got our food and left. And it was still bothering me this morning when I thought of it again: what a waste! Perfectly good food. Perfectly good chicken: a bird who’s whole life had been for the sake of feeding hungry people was just gone. What had been the point? Had it even needed to live at all?

I wondered whether my feelings were less about food waste and more about my own nihilistic fears of living an existence which might end up to be pointless in the end. I wanted to believe my life mattered. I wanted to believe that I had a purpose and I would fulfill it by living my best life, but what if I was just a chicken in the bin? What if the moment came for me to be shaken lose from my supports and I too bounce the wrong direction and end up lost?

I mean, I guess there’s really no answer. Life is what it is and it might turn out to be pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of the expanding universe, so why worry? Well, because it means a lot to me, and if I can avoid ending up in the bin then I’d definitely prefer that. But in the meantime I suppose there’s no point in dwelling on “what ifs”: by the time anybody has enough perspective on my life to know whether it had any meaning I’m not likely to be around anymore and I’ll just have to make do with enjoying what I can of the here and now.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 23, 2019.

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