She has to brush by the crows to get in the building. They huddle outside, shrugging their angular shoulders, shedding black feathers, cawing menacingly at anyone who comes close and those who don’t. They are not only unafraid of her but intimidating to her. She knows they can’t hurt her, but she hates brushing by them as they cackle and ruffle their feathers, and she hates how they follow her inside, their little yellow talons clicking just inches behind the soft tread of her shoes.
It is more of the same inside the office. They gather around, squawking in a language only they know, shuffling around to pick up an occasional paper in their beaks and drop it elsewhere if it is not tasty or interesting. Many memos reach her inbox with the tell-tale “V” of whichever beak they were clasped in (she can’t tell them apart) if the crows got distracted on their way to her cubicle.
They don’t fear the phone, but they don’t answer it, either. That’s probably good for business; those caws of theirs can be pretty off-putting.
She has tried to befriend them. She has tried everything from friendly words to baked goods, but both get either ignored or pecked. She cannot win them over. So she steps over them each day, walks by them, tiptoes among and between them. At any moment one could alight and all of them would take off, flapping their big ungainly black wings, bumping around in the air, forcing her to duck so their feet will not snag wisps of her hair. They poop on the floor; the maintenance department must hate their company.
She wonders how they cash their paychecks. Do they arrive at the bank with those same little “V”s from their beaks? What do the crows spend the money on, if they live rent-free on telephone wires? She supposes the checks finance the cigarettes that dangle from their beaks throughout the day, enveloping their raven bodies in clouds of acrid smoke.
Who hired these birds, anyway? Someone who enjoyed lining cubicles with newspapers?
Every day it is the same.
She wishes they were office trained. Not just the poop thing but in being useful. Occasionally one will peck at the fax machine until something happens, or make a copy, or knock the phone off its cradle when it rings. And of course there are the memos, dumped in her inbox with a squawk of scorn and a flippant flap of wings before each crow heads back to the rest of its murder (and she can tell why a group of crows is called a “murder,” by the way – she can easily envision them committing one). But these are pretenses, a way to fake their place in the office. Their real place, their real community, is in their flock, and they are always together.
The early bird gets the worm. These birds prefer Dunkin’ Donuts.