By David Cain
When I was a young boy, my sister and I used to get home from school before my parents would arrive. Even though it would only be 4 p.m., we’d eat. My dad, a food pusher, wanted to be sure his kids had something to eat when they got home. Something simple and easy to make that would hold us over until dinner.
He was at the local chicken place and, while ordering a bucket of their best, he asked what they did with the extra birds at the close of business. Yep, they threw all those golden delicious fowl in the trash at closing. It was the late 1970s and that’s how things worked. My enterprising, food-gathering father cut a deal with the manager. He said, “Any time you are closing and about to throw away the chicken, call me and I’ll come pick it up.”
The calls started sporadically at first. Here and there the phone would ring at 10 p.m. It was the chicken guy. “Max, you want some chicken?” is all I heard when I picked up the phone as my dad answered. Within minutes, I’d hear the Lincoln Mark IV fire up and depart for the land of deep-fried goodness to haul home the booty.
He’d freeze the chicken and, when we got home from school, we’d microwave it. Sounds ridiculously unhealthy as a 40-something with kids, but hey, it was good! After about two months, the calls were coming every day. My dad would just be ready to leave at 10 p.m. daily. Soon, we had the freezer stuffed and were buying another freezer for the garage. We were feeding chicken to the cat, leaving it outside for raccoons, eating it like we were the chicken’s natural enemy and offering it to every friend my sister and I could get to stop by. It was the chicken years.
I asked my dad, “Don’t we have enough chicken? Can’t you just tell him you don’t want any more?” He said, “If I quit going, he might never call again.” Ah, the takeaway, one of the best motivators ever. The fear of losing what we have makes us continue on a path we know is wrong. We all want abundance over scarcity. It’s a concept I remember in business. Serve up the things people want and it’s like catnip – no one will want it to stop. For it to stop would be far more painful than just getting more chicken.
David Cain works at a full-service marketing agency. You can contact David at David.Cain@mediasauce.com.