Learn to listen, listen to learn
I thought after horrifying everyone by being . . . well, me . . . it might be to my advantage to reach out and be friendly.
So, one morning in the barnyard, I did my best to cluck and peck, strut and scratch. I kept watch on the older ones, those who had obviously caught on better than I. Oh, they didn’t see me, but I pecked and peeked the best I knew how.
Soon, all the chicks had gathered in the barnyard. The clucking over this and that began. Very soon, I realized I wasn’t really keen on hen parties. Still, I decided to try to play the part. After all, who doesn’t want friends?
So, I decided to ask them for advice. Perhaps I’d make them feel I needed them, since I knew they didn’t need me. Maybe that would help win them over and stop their ridicule.
Holding my breath and with a heavy sigh of hesitation, I said, “What is it exactly you don’t like about me?”
They didn’t hesitate for a second and began to talk over each other.
“You’re too big to be a chick!”
“You’re three colors instead of one like us! Look around, who else has a white head and is gray?”
“Look how big your feet are!”
“Look how big your wings are!”
“You’re scaring everyone to death, eating snakes and chicks and eggs. Yuck!”
“Everyone is working so hard to make you fit in, instead of you just fitting in.”
Then they came up with solutions to my problems.
“Maybe if you just crouch down.”
“Yeah, lower your head.”
“You need some yellow feathers.”
“Yes, and maybe a hat!”
“And just keep pecking.”
“Stop looking around and staring with those big beady eyes!”
“Yes, are you crazy or something? You always look like you’re intent on chasing something down.”
“Why are you so focused on what’s around you, or what’s up versus what’s down?”
“You must stop this. You’re very intimidating! You appear snobby, and you’re acting like you’re better than us.”
I found myself talking fast to defend myself.
“Well, I’m not sure how I can change the way I look, and I didn’t mean to intimidate anyone. I don’t think I’m better than you; I think you’re better than me. You all know how to peck, cluck, walk, and strut. You all fit in, not me. I don’t know why I’m so hungry for snakes or eggs. I can’t seem to help myself.”
“Maybe she needs prayer,” said one chick.
“Or an exorcism,” said another.
“Yes, maybe we should take you to the lambs!”
“That’s a good idea,” another said. “Or maybe we get your mammie to make you an outfit out of the leftover feathers from the plucking’s!”
“Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it.”
HARPER LEE | AUTHOR
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