September 8, 2014 – My friend Rosemary the dairy cow, sent a text to my cellphone telling me about an interesting stamp for sale. She saw a small add in the newspaper that Gertrude the goat was about to consume from the top step of Mrs. Turner’s porch. She was able to memorize the details before Trudy gobbled it up and turned it into compost.
The stamp was not rare or valuable to most collectors, but it was one I have been looking for to add to my personal collection. It was an uncirculated 1967 French stamp depicting the face of the lovely and brilliant scientist, Madame Marie Curie. Madame Curie, though a French citizen, was born in Poland. She was the first female to win the Nobel Prize and the first human to win it twice. I read a book about her when I was a chick. She is one of the reasons why I love being a scientist.
The person selling the stamp had others for sale, but this was the only one of interest to me. I wanted to buy it before anyone else snatched it first. He was a business man in a city an hour north of here and he was selling it for a reasonable price indeed; $1.00.
I asked Tim if he would take the ride with me to the office building in which the man worked. I telephoned the seller this morning to express my interest and he suggested we meet there. Tim was thrilled to take the break from our heavily molting flock.
“I can’t take the feathers all over the place,” he complained. “It looks like someone had a pillow fight with a grizzly bear!”
I love Tim. He’s a good egg.
We made it to the office building without any issues. The address depicted a gray brick building that towered high into the sky. We parked the truck in a space marked for visitors and made the short walk to the entrance where six glass doors stood tall before us. We watched workers coming and going through each portal. All we had to do was pick one.
“Uh oh, Hap,” Tim said pointing to a sign bolted next to the first door on the left. “Look. It says: No Animals Allowed. Are we considered animals?”
“As far as humans are concerned… yes,” I said somewhat deflated. “Wait a minute. I have an idea!”
I spotted a clothing drop-off bin in the corner of the parking lot.
“Let’s wear a disguise! If we look like humans, no one will toss us out for being chickens!”
“Can we do that?” Tim asked nervously.
“Sure,” I said. “It’s not like we’re keeping them. We’re simply borrowing an article or two of clothing for a couple of minutes. We’ll put them back before we leave, no harm – no foul.”
We walked across the paved lot to the metal depository. I opened the wide-mouthed chute and Tim flew inside. He called out to me after he had a look around.
“There’s a little bit of everything in here,” his muffled voice rang out. “What should I pick?”
“Everyone I see is in a suit of some sort; men and women. Do you see anything like that in there?”
“It’s all too big for us,” his voice echoed.
“What about accessories?”
“I just ripped open a trash bag where everything inside is black. I’ve got a necktie, 2 pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, a fedora and a small tank top that might fit you as a dress. Wait, there’s a royal blue scarf in here that would go well with that top. Oooh… and a black clutch purse!”
Tim has great fashion sense. He watches all of the designer shows on TV.
He tossed everything up to me and we dressed behind the bin. We worked our way back to the glass doors, stopping for a moment to admire our reflections. We looked smashing! We inhaled deeply, nodded our heads and waited for an opening. Then we scooted into the vestibule.
Amazingly, the hall was empty of workers. Tim and I were the only two souls standing inside the marbled foyer. That is, besides a kind-faced security officer whose head was buried deep in a pile of papers. He didn’t once glance up as we paraded by. I quickly spotted a bank of elevators at the end of a long corridor and hesitated.
“It’s nothing more than a runway,” Tim whispered in my ear. “Work it, girl!”
We owned that shiny floor all the way to the first elevator. I pushed the up arrow. The doors opened. No passengers were inside; so far, so good.
I hit the button for the 11th floor where the office of Mr. Charles Dinsmore, seller of the Madame Curie stamp, was located. The lift jerked and creaked for several seconds before coming to a full stop on the 3rd floor. A sharply dressed man and woman stepped inside, speaking boldly and in great detail about an accountant named Natasha who seems to have an affinity for cooking books. Wasteful if you ask me. Books are much better raw; just ask Trudy. They were so engrossed in their own conversation that they didn’t notice a smiling hen and rooster who were dressed to the nines.
Three more times the elevator stopped before we finally reached our destination. Each time, a handful of fancily dressed workers came aboard engaged in lively conversation. Soon we found ourselves surrounded by a throng of noisy chatter and human bodies. Crowded elevators have a different smell for bantams. Tim reached for my wing as his body began to sway.
“I’ve got to get out of here,” he gasped. “It’s all too much!”
Thankfully, it is then when a small bell dinged signaling our arrival on the 11th floor. We forced ourselves through a sea of legs and landed in a splatter on a carpeted hallway.
“Let’s get this stamp and leave,” I said to Tim who was still on his back catching his breath.
We wandered through a maze of beige-walled cubicles until we came to a corner office with a name etched in script in the window of the door: Chas. S. Dinsmore, Procurement Manager.
“He must be important,” I said softly. “He has a middle initial.”
I couldn’t reach the door handle and the window was too high for me to peek through, so I lied on my stomach and called out to the man from the crack under the door.
“You-who, Mr. Dinsmore! It’s me, Happy and my friend Tim. We’re here about the Madame Curie stamp?”
“Come in!” A booming voice replied.
“Well, you see sir, that’s somewhat of a problem for us. We can’t reach the handle.”
I heard him mumble and ask someone to hold on.
“He must be on the phone,” I mouthed to Tim.
“I’m on a call right now. Can you come back later?”
I explained to him that we had traveled quite a distance and were needed back at our brewery by four o’clock. “It’s our busy time of year,” I articulated through the crack. “If you don’t mind, I’d very much like to complete the purchase at this time.”
A cool draft passed over my back giving me a shiver.
“Toss the money under the door,” he grumbled, “and I’ll get you the stamp. I’m on the phone with Beijing and can’t hang up. Sorry about that.”
I did as he instructed and slid a crisp one dollar bill through the small stream of sunlight. Tim craned his neck and peered into the thin space.
“Shoes, headed this way!”
A heart thump later and a small waxy envelope shot by us. I picked it up and looked inside. It was a most magnificent piece of postage!
“It’s a beauty Hap,” Tim said gazing over my shoulder. “Well worth the trip.”
“Thank you, Mr. Dinsmore,” I hollered under the door to the procurement manager. “Nice doing business with you!”
He returned the pleasantry by way of a raspy grunt.
We decided to take the stairs on the way out. Our legs were shaky by the time we reached the main lobby. We walked past the guard station and this time the security officer looked down at us with a puzzling stare. We waved, for chickens are always polite in public when meeting someone new. It was a great relief to be back inside the truck. I coasted over to the yellow clothing dumpster and pulled up alongside of it so Tim could lean out the window and toss our disguises down the chute.
“Another fine outing,” he remarked as we pulled out of the parking lot. “How about we celebrate with a stop at a drive-thru donut shop?”
That sounded like a wonderful plan! A new stamp and a glazed circle of sweet delight all in one day? How could life be any better?