Una Situación Extraña
Sin duda fue una situación extraña, comenta Brian Young, gerente de una pequeña tienda de comestibles de Hertfordshire (Reino Unido).
La política de la empresa era no permitir que ningún animal salvaje entrara en la tienda, y su trabajo consistía en asegurarse de que no lo hicieran.
Pero Brian no tenía ni idea de lo extraño que se le iba a poner el día cuando un pato decidió entrar en su tienda.
Caminaba como si conociera el lugar, pero nunca antes había estado allí.
Cuando Brian se acercó al animal, observó cómo recorría los pasillos. Pero entonces se dio cuenta de lo que estaba haciendo en realidad.
Brian se dio cuenta entonces de que algo estaba pasando. El pato estaba buscando algo. ¿Qué podría estar buscando?
Quería ver qué estaba haciendo antes de actuar.
Pero cuando su curiosidad se apoderó de él, pronto se dio cuenta de que había cometido uno de los mayores errores de su vida.
Una Vez Terminado
Pero después de que el pato hubiera encontrado lo que buscaba, Brian se quedó congelado en el sitio y con la cara pálida. Se secó el sudor de la cara y sacó su teléfono.
Con manos temblorosas, tomó una foto. Miró nerviosamente por encima del hombro.
Nadie más podía ver lo mismo que él. Puede que no entendieran la situación como él.
Brian Young era el amable encargado que la mayoría de la gente veía cuando hacían la compra los sábados por la mañana. Les dedicaba una sonrisa y les ayudaba en todo lo que podía. La tienda de comestibles era su orgullo.
El propietario la dejó en sus manos, más que capacitadas, y él hizo un trabajo extraordinario para mantenerla en funcionamiento de forma eficiente y limpia.
Pero no estaría preparado para su siguiente sorpresa.
Acostumbrado A Resolver Problemas
Brian estaba acostumbrado a resolver problemas en el día a día. Desde problemas mensuales, como pequeñas infracciones con las existencias, hasta problemas semanales, como quejas de los clientes.
Estaba acostumbrado a todo, y todos en la comunidad le conocían como el solucionador de problemas.
Era asombrosamente bueno dando la vuelta a un problema en un tiempo récord. Pero un día, no tendría ni idea de qué hacer.
Una Tienda De Comestibles Bien Surtida
Otra cosa de la que Brian se enorgullecía era de sus proveedores. Se las había arreglado para conseguir cosas que una tienda de ultramarinos común no tenía en stock. Eso significaba que más clientes acudían a su tienda para todas sus necesidades de consumo.
Desde cereales exportados hasta todo tipo de suplementos dietéticos, él sólo quería tener contento al cliente.
Pero al final, sería su perdición.
Una Política Estricta
La tienda sólo se mantenía en tan buen estado porque todos respetaban sus numerosas políticas. Pero una de las más importantes era asegurarse de que la fauna salvaje se quedara fuera.
Al fin y al cabo, la tienda no era lugar para animales salvajes. Lo último que un cliente quiere ver mientras compra verduras limpias es una ardilla o una paloma en el pasillo.
Pero es más común de lo que se piensa.
Brian era consciente del problema de los animales que a veces asolaba los supermercados locales. Al igual que con el resto de problemas, se apresuraba a solucionarlos. Había visto muchos tipos diferentes de animales después de trabajar en la tienda durante diez años.
Desde mapaches y ardillas que intentaban meterse en las frutas y verduras frescas hasta palomas que intentaban meter el pico en el pan, Brian pensaba que lo había visto todo.
Por desgracia, se equivocaba.
Siempre De Guardia
Brian trabajaba en la tienda todos los días, pero incluso cuando se iba y la tienda seguía abierta, estaba de guardia. Nunca podía tomarse tiempo libre cuando los problemas parecían aparecer a diestro y siniestro cuando él no estaba.
Y como tantas otras veces, Brian estaba terminando de fregar los platos en casa cuando recibió una llamada de la tienda.
Había otro problema más.
El empleado que le había llamado acababa de explicarle que otro animal había entrado en la tienda. Pero esta vez el asunto era complicado.
Brian no tenía ni idea de a qué se refería, pero le dijo que iría en cuanto pudiera.
Se secó las manos, cogió las llaves del coche y condujo directamente a la tienda. Pero no estaba preparado para lo que estaba a punto de encontrarse.
Cuando Brian llegó a la tienda, atravesó la entrada principal y miró a su alrededor. El personal le indicó el pasillo de la leche, las aves y los huevos. Avanzó por el pasillo y por fin vio al intruso.
Era un pato que bajaba a paso lento. Parecía el dueño del lugar. Nunca lo había visto allí, y pronto se iría.
Pero aún no había visto el factor que lo complicaba.
No Era Un Pato Cualquiera
Mientras Brian marchaba hacia el pato con la intención de simplemente agarrarlo y sacarlo de su tienda, vio algo que le hizo detenerse en seco.
Notó algo en el pato que sólo podía ver ahora que estaba a tres metros del animal.
Le heló la sangre.
Un Hallazgo Especial
Brian agradeció que nadie hubiera tomado medidas en su ausencia. Ahora veía el complicado asunto del que le había hablado su ayudante por teléfono.
Supuso que la mayoría de la gente pensaría simplemente que tenían un pato cualquiera en su tienda, pero no era así en absoluto.
Brian lo supo desde el momento en que vio su pelaje.
Agradecimiento A Su Padre
Brian sabía que tenía que agradecérselo a su padre. Su padre era cazador y coleccionista de patos.
Durante toda su infancia, Brian recordaba a su padre añadiendo patos disecados a su pared.
A Brian se le había pegado algo de su pericia y podía identificar muchas especies diferentes de patos del Reino Unido.
Confirmación De Sus Sospechas
Brian tenía que asegurarse de que estaba en lo cierto antes de pasar a la acción. Sacó temblorosamente una foto del pato y se la envió a su padre con la leyenda: “¿Es esto lo que creo que es?”.
Guardó el teléfono y miró por encima del hombro. Nadie más que él y su ayudante sabía nada de aves acuáticas.
Un minuto después, recibió una respuesta de su padre. Simplemente decía: “SÍ”.
Un Appleyard Plateado
Brian se secó el sudor de la frente. Ahora sabía que estaba tratando con un Silver Appleyard.
Ese nombre podría no significar mucho para la gente común de su tienda de comestibles y el área metropolitana de Hertfordshire.
Pero significaba algo para Brian. Sabía que no podía llevarse el pájaro ahora. Llamó al único número que se le ocurrió.
Fundación Para La Supervivencia De Razas Raras
Brian llamó al número del Rare Breed Survival Trust. Ellos sabrían qué hacer. Sólo tardaron unos instantes en contestar. Pero el representante con el que habló le dio malas noticias.
Parecía que Brian tenía muchos más problemas de los que creía.
No había forma de que pudiera deshacerse del pájaro a corto plazo.
El representante le dijo a Brian que era muy raro que el pato entrara en su tienda. Pero eso no era lo que tenía a Brian nervioso. Fue lo que el hombre dijo a continuación lo que le hizo replantearse sus acciones.
“Es poco probable que la criatura esté buscando comida”, añadió el hombre. “Probablemente tenga un nido cerca”.
Eso significaba que Brian tendría que encontrar el nido antes de seguir adelante.
Dejar Que El Pájaro Vaya Y Venga
Brian no tuvo más remedio que dejar que el pájaro fuera y viniera a su antojo. Y eso no le sentó demasiado bien al director.
Odiaba la idea de tener un animal salvaje paseando por su tienda.
Pero hasta que encontrara el nido, no tendría más remedio que aguantar a la criatura.
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.