The Chicken Men

I once had a working nightmare/adventure, albeit surrounded by chicken giblets in a factory about 15 miles from where I lived. I hadn’t worked for a while so I was chomping at the bit to earn some money. When the opportunity arose of a reasonably paying, full time job working with a few of my old friends, I clucked at the chance (Wish I hadn’t)

The factory was set amongst the beautiful rolling hills of the Derbyshire Peak District. Quite ironic really, death and splattering giblets surrounded by natural beauty.

I only worked there for 7 months, but believe me when I say this. Sometimes, if I close my eyes, I can still smell the chicken offal and hear the incessant gobbling that came from out of their long necks, and that was just the employees.

I worked in nearly all of the departments that were on the factory site, where they tortured the other 600 employees with the smell of chicken innards, and sometimes, the outards, if you know what I mean!!

For my last 2 months of working there, some sadistic Hitler type charge-hand decided I should work in the ‘Killing Shed’;  so called for obvious reasons. Allow me to describe the shed. It was NOT a shed, it was a concrete room with no windows (Sort of like a world war II bunker) about 40 foot square, give or take. In the middle of the room was a rotating steel table, circular in shape, with what looked like steel stirrups moving overhead, thousands of them, all moving with a clank clank sound in the same direction. I half expected Marley’s ghost to make an appearance, staking a claim for the moving chains.

Now the interestingly weird part. Around Camelot’s rotating table stood 6 men, spaced evenly, standing on small platforms to raise them waist high to the table. They wore the same long smocks, shit and blood stained from years of use.  They also wore face masks to shield the lungs from the dust that scattered into the air as the chicken’s wings flapped in distress!! The weird thing was, all 6 of the men actually resembled chickens. They all sported elongated necks and had what looked like developing jowls. But the most telling sign they were turning into chickens was the way they moved. They kind of strutted their stuff, but NOT like John Travolta. They moved stealthily like chickens hopping and bobbing around a farm yard, jerking their heads back and forth waiting for feeding time.

It was strange yet hilarious to witness these 6 men all working in unison (Efficient yet clucky, as they were referred to!) Anyway, I was chosen to work in the shed for a while because one of the human chicks was leaving before the place was shut down. So, I took my place on the little platform and copied what they were doing until I could do the job without having to concentrate on the little chickens so I could watch the big chickens. The ‘function’ of the turntable went something like this. The chickens came through a tunnel, which rather conveniently allowed the chickens to step (Fall) onto the revolving table. Then, if the chicken was docile, would be picked up by it’s legs and hung upside down so it’s feet rested in the stirrups, which carried the poor little blighters to their destination (Doom) If the chicken wasn’t docile then a chase would ensue, and believe me, running after a chicken who knew what it’s fate was is not an easy feat. Feathers would flap and dust would fly off their wings, which would fill the ‘Shed’ in no time atall.

The most unpleasant thing that happened to me was about 2 weeks before the factory closed it’s doors for the final time. I was stood, surrounded by chickens and I caught a rather large specimen as gently as I could by his/her legs and turned him/her upside down to rest the legs in the stirrups. At the precise moment of placing the feet in the stirrups, a hot fountain of chicken shit escaped it’s bottom, shot up into the air and painted my face, dripping off my chin and down the front of my t-shirt. The smell was horrendous, in fact, despite several showers, the aroma stuck to my clothes and skin for a few days after.

I like to think that shitty incident was the chickens way of protesting. If it was, then it won lots and lots of support and sadistic admiration from the chicken men who stood around the table. I had never heard then cheer or even smile during my time in the ‘Shed’, but that at least provoked a human response, even though their heads bobbed back and forth as they cheered.

Thank God my factory days are behind me !!

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17 thoughts on “The Chicken Men

  1. I worked on occasion picking chickens at night and loading trucks. Each building had about 50,000 chickens, and under the blue light we’d grab three in one and and four in the other, legs laced between the fingers and all night we’d go. The stink penetrated your skin and lasted a week. I’ll never forget it. Pretty disgusting.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Every couple of hours we’d take a break and change dust masks and they were damp and blackened in chicken dust. It’s a wonder all those birds weren’t sick as hell. Inhumane, really.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to do private security work. The company I worked for had the contract for a chicken processing plant. The smell there was known to be unholy and all the guards in the company viewed being assigned there as punishment duty. Thank goodness I never ended up there.

    Liked by 1 person

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