Monday, October 1, 2007

One serious game of chicken

Flu season is approaching and, unless you are allergic to eggs, it’s time to get a flu shot. This makes me wonder whatever happened to bird flu, which if it didn’t kill most of humanity, would definitely imperil an important segment of the trucking industry.

I mean, of course, chicken haulers.

We eat a lot of chicken – legs, thighs, breasts (can I say that on this blog?) – even gizzards and livers. At the end of the day, Americans consume more than 26 billion pounds of chicken every year – about 87 pounds per person. Just about every single pound travels by truck. They don’t just fly to the grocery stores.

But if bird flu came to our coops, that could all change. The great states of Alabama and Arkansas, for instance, have a lot of chicken haulers. So they would be one of the first places to feel plucked if you stop eating that pound and a half of chicken every week.

It takes a lot of trucks to move all that chicken, whether it’s still alive or cold, dead and naked. What would happen to the millions of chicken haulers out there – there must be millions, judging from all the chicken lights that are sold?

Tighten your seatbelt – it would be a disaster.

Those hard-workin’ haulers will be out of work. The banks will foreclose on their chrome and light loans. Truck stops will have to close their chrome sections and lay people off. Non-chicken-haulers will strip the chrome and lights off their trucks so they won’t look like chicken haulers and be stopped for bird flu inspections.

Truck builders and trailer makers will close production lines and lay people off. Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy won’t be able to tell chicken-hauling jokes anymore – they won’t be PC, by which I mean Poultry Correct. The sale of diesel will go way down, so the price will go even higher to keep the oil companies’ profits at record levels.

Like feathers in a backdraft, the effect will spread. KFC, Chick-fil-A, and Mrs. Winners will close. So will countless meat and threes. People won’t know what to eat while watching sports or in bars because there won’t be any wings. Lines will form at vegetarian restaurants. San Diego will have to get a new mascot.

Every other person in Arkansas will be unemployed, since Tyson will fold. The Clintons will have to look elsewhere for money. Preachers will go hungry since they won’t be getting fried chicken for Sunday lunch. They will even have to stop cock fighting in Cocke County, TN.

It doesn’t stop there. This takes on global proportions. Our esteemed trade partner, mainland China, will have to close the factories where they make T-shirts that say “Ain’t no feelin’' like chicken-mobilin.’ ”

The Chinese will raise prices on everything else they make for us, further increasing our trade deficit and putting Wal-Mart out of the reach of many Americans who shop there every week.

Since we get all our air fresheners and countless other items vital to trucking from China, those industries will suffer as well. Yes, my fellow Americans, a chickenless America threatens not just chicken haulers but all of the trucking industry. It even threatens to put Pamela Anderson out of her cause of busting KFC’s chops.

But we should remain calm in the face of this potential calamity. Because you are Americans (except a few million who aren’t but do most of our dirty jobs for us anyway so their kids can be), you want to know – how you can help?

Go out right now and buy as much chicken as you can put in your freezer and fridge. Stop off at KFC for a few buckets to go. Love your tenders. Stay the course and keep ordering wings.

And next time you see a chicken hauler on the road, let him know you support the cause. Wave at him with all your fingers – chicken fingers, of course.