A Strange Situation
It was a strange situation for sure, remarked Brian Young, the manager of a small grocery store located in Hertfordshire, U.K.
He remembered the first day that the ducks appeared.
It was company policy not to allow any wild animals to wander into the store, and it was his job to make sure they stayed out.
But Brian had no idea how strange his day would get once a duck decided to waltz inside his store.
It walked around as if it was familiar with the place, but it had never been there before.
But then, as Brian approached the animal, he watched as it walked down the aisles. But then he realized what it was actually doing.
Looking For Something
Brian then realized that there was something going on. The duck was definitely looking for something. What could it be searching for?
He wanted to see what it was doing before he would take action.
But as his curiosity got the better of him, he’d soon realize he’d made one of the biggest mistakes of his life.
Once It Was Done
But after the duck had found what it was looking for, Brian stood frozen in place and pale-faced. He wiped the sweat off of his face and pulled out his phone.
His shaky hands cupped the phone as he took a photo. He nervously looked over his shoulder.
No one else could see what he saw. They might not understand the situation as he did.
Brian Young was the friendly manager most people saw when they did their Saturday morning shopping. He’d flash them a smile and help in any way he could. The grocery store was his pride and joy.
The owner left it in his more-than-capable hands, and he did a remarkable job keeping it running efficiently and cleanly.
But he wouldn’t be ready for his next surprise.
Used To Solving Problems
Brian was used to solving problems on a day-to-day basis. From monthly problems like small infractions with the stock to weekly problems like customer complaints.
He was used to all of it, and everyone in the community knew him as the problem solver. He was astonishingly good at turning a problem on its head in record time.
But one day, he’d have no idea what to do.
A Well Stocked Grocery Store
Another thing that Brian prided himself on was their suppliers. He had managed to get things your common grocery didn’t stock.
That meant that more customers would come to his store for all of their consumer needs.
From exported cereals to every kind of dietary supplement, he just wanted to keep the customer happy. But in the end, it would be his downfall.
A Strict Policy
The store was only kept in such a good state because everyone adhered to its many policies. But one of their most important policies was making sure wildlife stayed outside.
The grocery was no place for wild animals, after all. The last thing a customer wants to see while shopping for clean vegetables is a squirrel or pigeon in the aisle.
But it’s more common than you’d think.
Brian was aware of the animal problem that sometimes plagued the local supermarkets. Like with all of the other problems, he was quick to fix them.
He’d seen many different kinds of animals after working at the store for ten years.
From raccoons and squirrels trying to get into the fresh fruits and vegetables to pigeons trying to get their beaks on bread, Brian thought he’d seen it all. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
Always On Call
Brian worked at the store every day, but even after he left and the store was still open, he’d be on call. He could never properly take time off when problems seemed to appear left and right when he was gone.
And just like so many times before, Brian was just finishing up washing his dishes at home when he got a call from the store.
There was yet another problem.
The staff member that had called him just explained that another animal had come into the store. But the matter was complicated this time.
Brian had no idea what he meant but told him he’d be there as soon as he could.
He dried his hands, grabbed his car keys, and drove directly to the store. But he wasn’t ready for what he was about to find.
When Brian got to the store, he walked through the main entrance and looked around. The staff pointed towards the milk, poultry, and eggs aisle. He marched down the aisle and finally laid eyes on the intruder.
It was a duck waddling down at a slow pace. It looked as if it owned the place. He’d never seen it in there before, and soon it would be gone.
But he hadn’t seen the complicating factor yet.
Not Just Any Duck
As Brian marched to the duck with the intent to simply grab it and walk it out of his store, he saw something that made him stop in his tracks.
He noticed something about the duck that he could only see now that he was ten feet away from the animal.
It made his blood run cold.
A Special Find
Brian was grateful no one had taken action in his absence. He now saw the complicated issue that his assistant had told him about on the phone.
He assumed that most people would just think that they had an ordinary duck in their store, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Brian knew that from the moment he saw its coat.
Having His Dad To Thank
Brian knew that he had his father to thank. His old man was a duck hunter and collector.
All through Brian’s childhood, he’d remember his father adding stuffed ducks to his wall.
Some of the expertise had rubbed off on Brian, and he could identify many different duck species from the U.K. That was the problem with this duck.
Confirming His Suspicions
Brian had to be sure he was right before taking action. He shakily took a photo of the duck and sent it to his dad with the caption, “Is this what I think it is?”
He put his phone away and looked over his shoulder. No one else except him and his assistant knew anything about waterfowl.
A minute later, he got a reply from his dad. It simply read, “YES.”
A Silver Appleyard
Brian wiped the sweat off of his forehead. He now knew that he was dealing with a Silver Appleyard.
That name might not mean much to the common folk of his grocery store and the greater Hertfordshire area.
But it meant something to Brian. He knew he couldn’t remove the bird now. He called the only number he could think of.
The Rare Breed Survival Trust
Brian called the number for the Rare Breed Survival Trust. They would know what to do. It only took them a few moments to answer.
But the representative he spoke to gave him the bad news.
It seemed like Brian had far more problems than he thought he did. There was no way he could get rid of the bird any time soon.
The representative told Brian that it was very odd for the duck to be coming into his store. But that wasn’t what had Brian on edge.
It was what the man said next that had him rethinking his actions.
“It’s unlikely that the creature is looking for food,” the man added. “It probably has a nest nearby.” That meant Brian would have to find the nest before moving forward.
Letting The Bird Come And Go
Brian had no choice but to let the bird come and go as it pleased. And that didn’t sit too well with the manager.
He hated the idea of having a wild animal walking around in his store.
But until he found that nest, he would have no choice but to put up with the creature.
Relying On Hope
The only thing Brian could do at that point was hope that the duck wouldn’t disturb his customers. And that its visits wouldn’t be frequent ones.
As he was considering the thought, the bird left the store, and luckily, it didn’t cause a fuss. Brian felt like he could rest easy that night.
But he had no idea this was only the beginning.
A Daily Routine
Over the next few days, Brian thought things would start settling down. But he was in for a big surprise. While he was there, nothing happened, but after he left, the phone calls became routine.
Brian was getting a phone call every day stating that the bird was back. It had taken a liking to the store and would come in every day.
But what was so special about his store?
After every phone call, Brian went to the store. At first, he was just watching the bird, but then he decided to follow it. Perhaps that way, he could figure out where the nest was.
Once he found that nest, this madness could come to an end, and he could continue running his store as he did before it showed up.
Then, a harrowing thought crossed his mind.
What If It Was In The Store
Brian’s blood ran cold at the thought of it. It was the last thing he expected, but it was a possibility. “What if its nest is somewhere in my store?” he asked no one in particular.
He couldn’t stand for that. He kept his eyes on the bird.
It would betray the location of its children soon, or so he thought.
The Same Aisle
After following the duck around for a few days, Brian picked up on a pattern. The endangered animal would walk down the same aisle every single day.
It made no sense as it was patrolling the milk, poultry, and egg aisle. Brian didn’t understand it.
And at this point, he was at his wit’s end.
For an entire week, Brian had to make sure that none of the customers stole or harmed the animal. But that wasn’t even the worst part of the whole story.
This duck had put Brian’s reputation at stake. He couldn’t help but wonder what the shoppers were making of the situation.
What if the locals started thinking that this was a standard procedure?
Getting Sick And Tired
After a week of senselessly following the bird around his store, Brian was getting sick and tired of the animal. Things simply couldn’t go on that way anymore.
He understood that it was an endangered species, but he was getting close to just calling animal control and making it their problem.
He did have to look out for his livelihood, after all.
More Than Enough Attention
The duck was starting to cause a fuss around the supermarket. Everyone would look at it when it came walking past them.
And Brian would become the center of attention when it happened.
He didn’t like that at all. His store wasn’t a petting zoo! But one fateful day, that was exactly what it seemed to become.
A Different Reaction
The bird was doing the same thing it did every day. But this time, a little girl and her mom were shopping in the same aisle as the bird.
At first, they didn’t seem to notice the duck, and that filled Brian with relief. But when he heard the little girl gasp, he knew something was about to happen.
He just hoped she’d act the same way as everyone else.
Not What He Expected
Brian was always ready for comments from customers that passed him and the resident duck in the evenings. But this girl seemed to be incredibly excited about what she saw.
And that was enough for Brian to know that there would be no easy way out in this case. However, that wasn’t the limit of her observation.
The girl was about to do something nobody expected.
Brian nervously watched as the duck walked past the mother and daughter. The mother noticed the animal but ignored it. That was better than complaining in Brian’s mind.
But the daughter’s reaction was something he didn’t anticipate. “Look, mommy, a quack!” the little girl said as she squirmed in her seat.
She quickly undid the buckle and jumped out before stumbling toward the duck.
Caught Off Guard
Everything was happening as if it were in slow motion. The little girl walked up to the duck with her arms stretched wide. Brian tried to stop her from touching the endangered animal.
Her mother didn’t seem to register what was going on.
Brian reached for her arm, trying his best not to have the animal startled, but it was already too late.
The girl approached the duck and sat behind it, lightly patting its back. She looked over its head and squinted her eyes.
The duck was staring at something in the aisle, but it was something that Brian had grown used to.
However, this child’s curiosity got the better of her. And she pointed out something that Brian had never considered before.
Staring At The Eggs
“Are you staring at the eggs? You’re a weirdo!” The girl giggled before her mother called her away from the animal.
Those words played through Brian’s mind. Walking the duck had become routine over time, and he kind of lost track of every little detail.
But the girl might’ve had a point. Her observation might be the key he had been looking for.
The girl reluctantly followed her mother out of the aisle and into the next one. But Brian was frozen in place.
All he could do was stand there as he thought about the interaction between the girl and the duck. That’s when he suddenly had an idea.
But he had no idea if it would lead him to the truth or not.
Running To Check The Manifest
With that thought in mind, Brian ran to the backroom and rummaged through all of the papers in his office. He was looking for an important document, the manifest for his stock.
He needed to know if there was any truth to the girl’s remark.
Brian needed to find out if the duck was coming to his store because it was looking for its eggs.
A Bitter Thought
Brian finally had his hands on the manifest he was looking for. And he flipped through it like a madman.
He went through dozens of papers as he looked for the record of the crate of eggs that had been delivered a couple of weeks prior to all this.
When he found it, his stomach churned.
Getting The Representative Back On The Phone
Brian knew there was only one thing to do. He called the representative back and, in a hoarse voice, explained his findings to them.
“So what you’re saying is that you found the nest?” the man on the other end of the phone asked. All Brian could utter was “Yes.”
He put down the phone and darted back to the aisle.
A Sad Sight
When Brian got to the aisle, he saw that the duck was exactly where he had left her.
She was idly staring at the eggs that were neatly lined on the shelf. And the sight was crushing.
He didn’t know how the company ended up making such a massive mistake. But he knew that it was up to him to fix it.
It Was The Only Way
It was not only a way to reunite the mother duck with her eggs. But once he did it, she would leave the store and never come back.
It was a win-win solution. The only sad thing about it was that things had to go so far.
Someone at his supplier messed up big time, and it had dire consequences.
So how did the duck eggs end up on the supermarket shelf? Well, with Brian priding himself in offering everything his customers could possibly want, duck eggs ended up on his list.
But Brian would never order the eggs of an endangered species. What he ordered were Mallard eggs.
A species that was nowhere near being endangered.
How the Silver Appleyard eggs ended up mixed with the rest was beyond his comprehension.
The only logical explanation Brian could come up with was that the Silver Appleyard mixed with the rest of the ducks on the farm.
And because of that, nobody knew that the eggs they took belonged to an endangered species.
So Many Possibilities
But there was no certainty that it was, in fact, the case. Brian could only hope that they weren’t being sold purposefully because that would land his supplier in hot water.
There was one thing Brian could do, though.
He could inform the supplier of the mix-up in an attempt to make sure something like that never happened again.
First Things First
But before Brian could focus on anything else, he needed to make sure the duck was reunited with her babies.
They had already been away from her heat for far too long. And in a case like this, Brian would be happy if any of them survived.
But he still had to try. It was the least he could do.
Brian was lucky that duck eggs were an exotic item, and they hardly sold.
In the weeks they had been on his shelf, not a single person bought them, so all the babies were accounted for.
Now he just had to figure out how to get them and their mom out of his shop and into the care of the people who could ensure they survived.
A Good Solution
Brian looked around the store, trying to get an idea of what could be suitable housing. When one of the cashiers saw him, they approached and asked what he was looking for.
Brian explained the situation, and the cashier came up with a brilliant plan.
They had some boxes out back, and the cashier brought a blanket with them as it was cold that day.
Getting To Work
The cashier ran out to get the box and blanket while Brain gathered some old newspapers. They turned the box into a nice little nest and carefully put all the eggs into it.
Once they were done, the duck jumped into the box and started heating her eggs.
Brian could only hope that they were still okay, but since she hadn’t abandoned them, there had to be a chance, right?
In His Office
Brian took the box to his office, where he called the wildlife conservation effort.
They agreed to send someone out to collect the duck and all of her eggs.
Relieved to finally have found a solution to his little problem, Brian sank down in his chair and admired the duck, who finally looked content. It was finally over.
Within a couple of hours, the representative from the wildlife conservation effort knocked on Brian’s door. He was incredibly excited about the find, but Brian was still a little skeptical.
He explained that the eggs had been on the shelf for quite some time and that he had little hope for their survival.
But the man didn’t seem to be phased by Brian’s concerns.
The man explained that even though eggs should never be left without the warmth of their parents, there was a good chance that all the babies were alive.
Since the store was warm and there were lights shining on the eggs the entire time, they received the warmth they needed.
But the conservation would incubate them until they hatched, just in case.
A Sad Day
Even though Brian would never admit it, watching the man leave with the duck was one of the saddest things he had ever experienced.
He had kind of bonded with it over the weeks it was there, and knowing he’d never see it again hurt.
But he could finally continue doing what he did best – managing the store.
Back To Usual
After that, everything went back to normal, but Brian would never forget the duck.
Whenever he went home, he waited for the call that had become a part of his routine. Sadly, it never came.
It took a few weeks for Brian to get used to a store without a duck. But just as he did, he got a surprising message.
It was from the representative that came to pick the duck up, and it had a lot of pictures attached to it.
The ducklings had finally hatched, and they were ready to be rehomed. Brian couldn’t help but smile.
After everything they had been through, they came out on top, and they could finally experience the world outside of the supermarket.
It was a bittersweet moment. Seeing the happy mother duck with the little balls of fuzz surrounding her really touched Brian’s heart.
And he couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to them in the future. But it was good to know that they were okay.
It meant Brian could sleep easily again.
It Wasn’t The End
What Brian didn’t know was that it wouldn’t be the last time he saw the duck or her babies.
The wildlife conservation effort was so touched by Brian’s story that they released the duck and her babies near his shop.
So it came as no surprise that Brian got the exact same call a few weeks after receiving the pictures.
“You won’t believe it,” the cashier on the other end of the line said. “She’s back, and this time she isn’t alone.”
“Who’s back?” Brian asked, stunned by the call. “The duck! She came back, and all the babies are with her!”
Brian thought it was a prank, but he went to the store nonetheless.
When Brian arrived, he saw the cashier that called him standing at the end of the aisle the duck always wandered in.
And sure enough, there she was with seven little ducklings trailing behind her.
It was an astonishing sight. And Brian couldn’t help but wonder if she was showing them where she had found them on that fateful day.
A Kind Gesture
The duck didn’t stay long, but before she left, she approached Brian. She nudged one of the ducklings toward him, and he instantly realized what she was doing.
She was being a proud mom and thanking the man who had rescued her babies from certain death.
It was the sweetest thing he had ever seen.
Brian was so stunned by what he experienced that he ended up following the duck out of the store. She led him all the way to her new home next to the lake.
On that day, Brian promised that it wouldn’t be the end of their friendship.
He would come to see the duck and her babies for as long as they stayed there.
Brian visited the lake every single day, and he brought some bread from the supermarket with him. He would usually spend an hour next to the lake feeding the duck and her babies.
It had become their new routine, and it was one that would remain for years to come. He’d make sure of that.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.