When I speak, as I often do, of “the chicken's day off,“ I am of course alluding to the phenomenon—not uncommon out here in rural Pennsylvania—of seeing a turkey cross the road. You will recognize the paradigm as an old variation on an even older joke.

Based on my experience, it would seem that the Chicken's Day Off usually falls on a Friday. I’m not sure whether the Chicken works a four-day week or whether, as is common in some other fields of work (e.g., retail), she takes a weekday off in exchange for working Saturday. I don’t see why it would be important for any roads to get crossed on a Saturday; but then again, I don’t really know the business.

Next time I see the Chicken who covers our region (for the countryside, I assume, is divided into road-crossing territories analogous to the geographical areas covered by salespeople), I suppose I should follow her to the other side and ask about all this. I do believe that we have a regular Chicken these days, though there was a period a few years back when the entire Regional Poultry Road-Crossing System seemed to be in transition and individual fowl were frequently transferred around.

Incidentally, the turkey who might substitute on any given Friday would seem to be just any properly qualified turkey, chosen simply according to availability. Not to say that they don’t do a perfectly adequate job.

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Copyright © 2000–2009 Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.