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Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Dancing Chicken Machine True Story - A Great Metaphor


I am a Generation X'er and grew up in the seventies, and eighties. One day my mom said we were going to the county fair. At the time I lived in East Texas. Needless to say my younger sister and I were very excited. I went to bed thinking about cotton candy and corndogs. I thought about all the rides I would attempt with bravery. Hopefully, they wouldn't make me sick after taking a whirl.

The county fair was your average fair. Food carts were set up, and all the odors in the air did nothing but excite me. Burning oil and rubber from the rides, a whiff of popcorn, funnel cakes, and corndogs mingled with the sweet smell of cotton candy was something I would wear home with me.

The people who operated the rides, "carnies" as they were called, always had a look about them that was both exhausting and exciting at the same time. They would yell out for riders to dare the adventure and bark at those who didn't follow safety rules. I always wondered what their lives were like working and traveling from one town to the next. Where did they sleep? Did they eat the fair food all the time? Maybe they ran to the local fast-food restaurant and grabbed a cheap meal.

When we finally arrived at the fair I couldn't get out of the car fast enough. I was told to stay close to my mother and it was torture to me because all I wanted to do is run and look at all of the sights only to stop briefly at each ride or food booth to fulfill the lust of my young eyes. On lucky occasions my mother had enough money to purchase an "all ride" bracelet that allowed me to ride any ride I wanted as many times as I could handle. On this trip, we only had a limited amount of tickets.

At the fair, there were tents set up in a row that featured various attractions like the BIGGEST COW IN THE WORLD or some drunk carnie that was dubbed THE HUMAN PIN CUSHION. The tent doors were closed but each time someone would enter or exit I would do my best to peek inside and discover what the fuss what all about. Try to see if I could make some confirmation about what was advertised by the tent entrance.

My step-father was a hunter and entered a turkey shoot contest. He had to hit a bullseye using a compound hunting bow and would win a frozen turkey. He felt it was worth the entrance fee but didn't win. No turkey for us that night. I could tell he was disappointed the same as my mother. Tickets weren't used to enter that shooting contest. Only cash was accepted. I was oblivious to the fact his loss meant he might not get that extra soda during his next work week. 

There was one giant tent that was free to go in and we all went inside as a family. I saw at least twenty different vending machines that were set up in a row. I quickly figured out why it was free to enter. Each machine was a little show you had to pump quarters into. It was a trick and we fell for it. I asked my mom if I could have some quarters from her purse. She dug in and pulled out a handful of change. I spied exactly what I needed. She sifted through the change and handed me three beautiful quarters. I ran as fast as I could to the machine I wanted to feed.

The machine I chose was one called THE DANCING CHICKEN and I was desperate to watch this fowl entertain me. I quickly pushed three coins into the machine. I was tingling with excitement. I peered through the glass of the machine and noticed a tiny piano in the corner. What was going to happen? Was the chicken going to come out and actually play me a song for the mere price of seventy-five cents? Would it be wearing a hat or a costume? I couldn't wait to find out.

Music began to play as soon as I heard the kerplunk of my coins. Over to the side of the machine was a little door that slid open. While the music was playing I saw a little red hen run out and quickly stop at the center of the machine. She was facing me and kicking her legs one after the other while the music played. I was in fact witnessing THE DANCING CHICKEN. It was real and the machine sign didn't deceive me. Very quickly the music stopped, and a few pieces of corn fell into a small dish by the door she ran from. She ran to the dish, gobbled the corn up, and jetted back inside the little room she nested in. The door slammed shut and the music stopped. That was it. I wanted to see the show again but that was all the money I had. I knew my mother wouldn't pull a magic pile of change from her purse to give me another dancing chicken show. I wondered if the little red hen anticipated the next few pieces of corn. I'm sure she certainly did. I would if I were a chicken in that show.

Today there are no more vending machines with animals in them ready to perform for a few pieces of food. I am sure the chicken was well fed and watered each day or that's what I hoped was the reality of the situation. Animal rights groups have made such shows a thing of the past. 

Years have passed and I have never forgotten THE DANCING CHICKEN I witnessed. I have recalled that childhood memory many times and it always brings me a good feeling. You know, one of those memories that you can never forget. This is one of those.

Now that I am a grown man and learned many lessons, I have made connections and understandings about that experience. I have given it a lot of thought and discovered some things about life and business that can connect to the little red hen who is no doubt past the plate to another dancer.

Now what I am going to share here is no disrespect to anyone or any position in life. It is merely an observation and my intention is to open you up to possibilities and opportunities in your life. If anything, I hope you find my true story a little humorous. Maybe you will leave a comment below and let me know what you think?

I have often thought about that dancing chicken while working various jobs. I have even compared myself to that chicken. I didn't view my job as a negative thing. I would get up every day, head to work, and do my little dance. At the end of the week, when the show was over I would get my few pieces of corn and run back home. I had my paycheck and was happy to get it. I had a purpose and it was fulfilling. I couldn't wait for the next few pieces of corn. Do you get the idea? Most people are just like that little dancing chicken and go through the motions just for a little bit of money each week. Most wish they had a few more pieces of corn to enjoy or share with others.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not insulting anyone for just having a job and trying to make ends meet. My current job is more than just a job to me. I've done it most of my life and each job has taught me many things. I am just sharing my thoughts on mindset. Right now I work at a great job and get to help create beautiful products. I'm proud of that.

Let's go a little further in this thought process.

I didn't have the extra seventy-five cents to see the chicken again but I have thought about the person who owned all those machines with performing animals in them. I wonder if he or she had plenty of quarters. Surely they did because we were not the only family in the giant tent pushing quarters in machines. So that led me to another thought. I needed a dancing chicken machine! Then I could have plenty of quarters.

Here's the idea. When we go to a job we are like the dancing chicken, but what if you had your own machine? This is an entrepreneurial thought but instead of making just a little money, what if you had a business of your own that provided a great product or service to the public? You would no doubt reap the benefits of something like that.

Not everyone is a business person with the ambition of being an entrepreneur. That's ok and if you are content doing that then keep doing that to the best of your ability. I applaud you for doing what makes you happy and is rewarding. It takes time to learn the business and how to operate it. The good thing is we have the Internet today and unlimited amounts of useful information can help you. It is a learning process, and if you begin on the business journey you will make mistakes. If you completely fail you can always start another venture. You will take with you priceless business experience that will only help you succeed with something else. 

What hobbies do you have? Did you know that you can turn a hobby or an interest into a business? Just think about it. Do others enjoy the same hobby you have? They surely do. Then you can ask yourself how you can serve others that have the same hobby. Begin by asking what problems they have and coming up with a solution to their problem. Then go serve them by providing a product or service. They will thank you for it and gladly give you money in return. 

I hope my little story was fun to read, and you hopefully were entertained. Maybe even got a little inspiration from it to begin your own journey. I would love to hear from you about this idea.

Now, go get yourself a DANCING CHICKEN machine! That is if you are so inclined.

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