I had to quit a job because of aggressive nesting geese

A reader writes:

I’m writing about a past situation that I still think about.

I used to work in retail as a high school junior from August to March. I live in the midwest, where geese are pretty common in the spring. What was weird about this one though was that it decided to nest in a huge empty flowerpot (no idea why there were no flowers) right in front of the entrance to the store.

I have an extreme phobia of most animals. It’s manageable when they’re on leashes, but wild animals always make me really anxious. I had not told my boss this when he hired me because I did not think it was relevant to being a cashier. (I also just did not really know how interviews were supposed to go and got hired on the spot without much of a conversation.)

I was scared to go inside the store because of the goose, but I managed to have my mom walk me in a couple times, with some shaking and crying, but I got inside without much discussion with management. I was usually the only employee on my shift (it was not a very busy store and management would help if it did get busy) so I didn’t have to explain myself to any coworkers.

Then, one day when we were outside, another goose came out of seemingly nowhere and swooped at our heads. Neither of us were injured, but I was now even more afraid than before. I decided to (with the help of my mom) get advice from local animal control services. They recommended getting a large beach umbrella and using it to hide.

This method proved extremely unhelpful, and, in fact, made the problem worse. This time, multiple geese actually chased me around the parking lot while I was thrown into a complete panic attack until I finally managed to run inside. I should also note that another goose (or possibly two) was battling my mom with the umbrella!

We contacted animal control again, but they could not provide any further advice. We also contacted a couple of wildlife organizations, which directed me a man who might be able to do something about the removal of the goose (it is illegal to disturb nesting geese in any way, without a whole complicated process), although they also could not provide other advice on anything I could do.

My mom and I spoke to the man, who said he could not do anything about the matter without the consent of my boss. My boss, when the prior incident had occurred, had essentially said that since none of the customers had complained, there was nothing he could do other than let me in through a side door (despite another one of my managers also being afraid of the geese!) so I didn’t bother telling him. (He was only a store manager so he didn’t have the authority to do authorize the goose removal without much higher management getting involved, and I didn’t want to burden him or cause a strain in our relationship.)

My uncle had passed away this same week, so the next few times I was scheduled to work, we would drive by the store, I would see if there were geese by the side door, and, if there were, I would cite grief over my uncle as the reason why I could not come in to work.

Eventually, there was a day where I saw around 5-8 geese on top of the buildings in this parking lot and tried to call in again. My manager (not the main boss — the one also afraid of the geese, ironically) demanded I come in to work since she was going to be alone. I told her that she could not force me to come in to work but she could fire me, and my mom and I drove away.

Later, my boss contacted me and asked if there was something we could do to keep me on, but I explained that as long as the geese were there, I could not guarantee that I would be able to make my shift, and he wished me luck in the future. I do not believe we ended on bad terms, but they certainly were not good either.

I’m wondering if there was anything else I could have done in this situation or if there’s anything to be gained from this for the future. And it’s also just an intriguing cautionary tale!

I will always print letters about bears and geese, but please don’t spend any more thought on this! You have a goose phobia, there were wild geese nesting around the store who were not going to be relocated, you left the job accordingly, and that can be that. You were in high school; you handled it the best you could.

But since you’re asking: If we had a time machine, the thing I’d recommend doing differently is being more up-front about the situation with your boss at the beginning. Something like: “I have a phobia of geese that’s making it impossible for me to enter the store some days. Assuming the store isn’t willing to have the geese relocated, I won’t be able to continue in the job because I can’t reliably know when I’ll be able to walk through the door, if geese are there. I’m sorry about this!” (The apology isn’t for having a phobia — you don’t need to apologize for that — but rather more of an “I regret we didn’t both realize this earlier.”)

The strategy of driving around the store right before your shift to see if geese were there and then calling out if they were wasn’t a great plan because it (a) meant you were calling out just minutes before you were supposed to be there and (b) avoided dealing with the issue head-on, which dragged things out on both sides (and undoubtedly kept your anxiety in a state of high alert for a longer period of time).

But you were a teenager, presumably without a nuanced knowledge of employment stuff, and you did the best you could at the time.

You asked about lessons for the future. I’d say it’s just that when you can see something is going to be a big problem for you — problematic to the point that it’s basically prohibitive — speak up early. Lay your cards on the table (“I can do X but I can’t do Y” / “X is not possible for me; would Y be an option?” / “I hadn’t anticipated X when I came on board; it’s a problem because Y”) and have an open discussion. (Of course, inherent in that advice is that you need to be prepared for the answer to be “X isn’t something we can change, so it sounds like we should part ways,” so that framing is for situations where you’re okay with that outcome.)

{ 390 comments… read them below }

  1. Ihmmy*

    Even for folks who aren’t dealing with animal phobias, nesting geese can be scary! There’s a reason Canada Geese are nicknamed Cobra Chickens (apparently they’re much nicer when down south, but when up in Canada they’re usually nesting or dealing with chicks which makes them very territorial)

      1. Katara's side braids*

        Yeah, they nest here in Southeastern PA and can be quite unpleasant!! Adorable babies, though.

        1. Cyndi*

          I grew up around there, and my high school softball field had a goose pond just over the line from left field. Retrieving foul balls on that side was always pretty nervewracking.

        2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          This is really interesting to me, because I do live in the southeastern US, and I’ve never encountered hostile Canada geese. And they definitely at least do some nesting down here, because they’ll be here without babies, and then suddenly, there will be baby geese.
          But it’s also rare to encounter them in city/town/concrete type environments–they’re usually in/around lakes/ponds down here. I’ve definitely never seen them nesting in front of any storefront.
          Like, we go down to the pond to feed them stale nuts and oatmeal and stuff (not bread now that we know it’s bad for them and ducks). They get a little pushy with the ducks, but otherwise they just walk/swim around and are pretty chill.

          1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

            I’m in the southeastern US as well and they are still pretty hostile towards us in my area. I’ve had some keep me from entering my old apartment once.

            1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

              Oh wow. I guess I’ve just been really lucky. No idea how, but I’m thankful for it. The idea of Canada geese being as mean as everyone here is saying they have been to them is pretty horrifying.

              I mean…when I was younger, I literally chased geese to get them to go into the water or to stay back from ducks who also wanted to eat. No geese retaliation at all. Ever. One of my grandparents had a pond in their backyard that geese loved, and we never had any problems (my grandfather loved having the geese).

              Fingers crossed my good luck continues, and spreads to everyone else!

              1. JSPA*

                European (mute) swans are scary. They can literally drown a swimmer. I’d rather deal with Canada geese than barnyard geese, turkeys, or mute swans. Trumpeters are lovely, though, and mannerly.

                1. Wendy Darling*

                  I saw a swan mug a toddler for the packet of fish food they were holding once. Knocked the kid down! They do not mess around.

                  Apparently they’re so strong they can break your arm with those wings.

                2. allathian*

                  Mute swans are scary and very territorial.

                  The biggest problem with geese is their large flocks. They can spoil a lovely picknick lawn by the beach with their droppings so fast.

            2. Leia Oregano*

              The college I went to (Mid-Atlantic US) had/has geese on part of its campus that were infamous when I was a student! They lived by a small man-made pond and would regularly chase students who got too close, which happened often because there was a bridge through the pond that students used as a shortcut. One of my friends had a bunch of boys who lived in her building freshman year who somehow managed to get a couple of geese into their dorm (bribed with a trail of crumbs, if I remember correctly) and they proceeded to wreak havoc for a couple hours until they could be removed.

              I don’t like geese, but swans are the real nightmare fowl. One bit me when I was a kid and I’ve never forgiven the entire species lol.

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                Swans are the assassins of the bird world: beautiful and deadly. And BIG. I’ve heard stories about a smack from their wings breaking bones.

                1. Harper the Other One*

                  There is an infamous picture of me holding back my youngest child (aged 18 months) who was desperately trying to toddle straight at a pair of nesting trumpeter swans to give them a big ol’ hug. Still an animal lover today but now recognizes that trying to hug the protective 4-foot-tall bird is a bad plan.

          2. Dawn*

            If you respect them, they’re generally fine. Speaking as a Canadian who has been dealing with them all her life: where people run into trouble is almost always that we’re not used to making space for wild animals and treating them with appropriate respect.

            I’ve had one hiss at me occasionally, and that’s a firm signal to keep your distance, but I’ve never been attacked and usually get on with them quite well.

            And watching Canada Geese chase apples around is absolutely a spectacle not to be missed, I highly recommend it.

            1. Quill*

              Where I went to college everyone was afraid of the geese. I just hissed back and they waddled away, glaring.

              Other than that the biggest problem is if you feed them, which is how I got mobbed by geese at a zoo once – too many people had tried to feed them so they decided to become a flashmob when they sensed food and I had to shove them off the sidewalk with a stroller.

              1. Dawn*

                Haha I have been surrounded by a flotilla of geese at least once. They were still friendly, though, they just really liked the apple slices.

            2. This Daydreamer*

              But respecting them means avoiding the area around their nests. That’s hard when the nest is right by the door! There’s one local hotel that asks guests not to use a specific door during nesting season. The employees know better than to approach the feathered mama bear!

          3. Lenora Rose*

            I’m up in Canada, and it’s weird, because I’ve never managed to offend a goose or been overly bothered by them, including walking on a trail next to their popular riverbank spots. The only time one even hissed at me it had goslings and my own kid was getting a bit close, and I just put kid on my other side, and guided us further along the path with nothing happening.

            That being said, I veered off crossing a road and fled back to a boulevard when I realised that to beat traffic I would be running headlong into a bunch of them. Part of why I haven’t had any actual bad experiences with the geese rather than with, um, their leavings, is not being foolish around them. Move slow, keep moving in a direction that is obviously not towards them, don’t get close to an obvious nesting place… and those are ALL things you can’t do if one is literally nesting right by your workplace entry.

            They’re really pretty, and the goslings are cute, but they aren’t exactly tame.

            1. Hakky Chan*

              One time I was driving on a city road at 6:30 AM on a Saturday morning, so it was pretty deserted. I rounded a curve and discovered a Canada Goose standing in the middle of the lane.

              I came to a stop to try and figure the safest way to get around the goose, and it charged at my car! It was funny, because I was safe…but it charged a car! They are fearless.

              This was Southern Ontario.

              1. Random Dice*

                Turkeys will do that too, charge a car. Apparently it has to do with seeing a reflection and thinking they’re defending territory from an intruder turkey. But without the reflection, they just wander all around the road in circles, and cars just have to hang out and wait, cuz they’re giant.

          4. goddessoftransitory*

            Essentially, as long as they’re coming up to you (and associate you with food), and you aren’t encroaching too near their nest, geese don’t usually go full COME AT ME BRO. But man, they could give a mama bear a run for her money in the defense department.

            I am surprised that the geese in the story chose that area to nest since it was so busy with humans not giving them snacks. But geese ways are deep and mysterious…

          5. PhyllisB*

            Also SE US, and the lake I used to walk around had geese residing there. The main problem was they had no discretion on where they used the toilet. Made you extra vigilant for sure. Occasionally one would hiss at you, but never had one get aggressive.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            As a bird geek I need to point out that it isn’t just a matter of the employer being “unwilling” to relocate the nesting geese – as a native species they’re protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so disturbing or moving their nest without a permit (which is unlikely to be granted for a reason like “they’re scaring an employee”) is actually illegal. At best they could wait until nesting season is over and do something about the flowerpot, either move it or plant something in it.

        3. Veryanon*

          Yes, I live in an area of Southeastern PA (Delco, to be precise) that was named for the Canada goose as we get so many of them here. I’m not afraid of them, precisely, but I definitely give them a wide berth as much as possible. They poop everywhere and can be very nasty!

          1. Katara's side braids*

            Your town name wouldn’t happen to correlate with an excellent convenience store chain, would it?

        4. Gumby*

          Also? Even geese have an awkward adolescent stage where they look funny. There are geese along a path where I walk and one month it’s “look how cute and fluffy” and a few months later it’s “wow, that’s unfortunate.”

      2. Watry*

        Very much not. In college I used to pay less for parking by having a space in a satellite lot and riding the shuttle in, but once every six months the place would be full of geese. Those things will fight cars.

        1. StressedButOkay*

          I’m in the States and at my small college, a very large flock (gang, they were a gang) of angry Cobra Chickens had settled in at the pond next to the short cut to my dorms. You learned REAL quick to hold your stuff close and run, especially after your first encounter or watching someone lose a backpack to the Cobra Chicken patrol.

      3. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

        Yeah, I live in gator country. I used to walk my dog around a local lake. I would sometimes have to walk a path between geese and goslings on one side and visible gators on the other. I felt safer closer to the gators than the geese, even with a gator snack on the leash.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        Yeah, those things are monsters. They have TEETH. The notion that birds are basically little dinos is not at all farfetched when a testy goose has you in its sights.

      5. Lab Boss*

        I once went from “slightly late” to “quite late” to meet with friends, because just as I parked two large geese came up to either side of my car and menaced me. The one on the driver’s side kept gently tapping its beak on the window, and I’m not ashamed to say I took it as a threat.

    1. SarahKay*

      Yup, geese are vicious beasts. Growing up I lived at the bottom of a lane and for a while the neighbours at the top of the lane kept a goose. Going to school I had to fight my way past it every day; luckily it was on a chain so couldn’t follow me. Equally luckily I had a big sturdy leather satchel that would take the brunt of the attack.
      All the sympathy for OP!

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        I’ve never heard of a goose being kept on a chain before, but what a wonderful idea. Keep the monsters locked up.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Only thing worse than an angry goose is a p*ssed off swan, I always say. And yes, there were “guard geese” where I grew up, and they were good at their jobs!

        1. Baunilha*

          Can confirm, my grandma never liked dogs, so she had guard geese instead. Even when they’re not nesting, those things can be terrifying.

        2. Jojo*

          LOL. Came here to say the same. Geese are mean and aggressive, but piss off a Swan at risk of life and limb. That’s an encounter I will never forget. (I simply walked up to the edge of the pond…and ran screaming away from the pond).

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes definitely. Swans are vicious. I used to walk by the river near my flat during lockdown and the swans were pretty menacing. In the UK swans all belong to the monarch (for some reason). I think Charlie should control them better myself.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Who on earth was the foolish hero who put the chain on the goose??? That sounds like a labor of Hercules!

        1. SarahKay*

          We were out in the UK countryside, so lots of farmers around and this particular bloke had four sons. I can only assume they outnumbered the goose by enough to make it a slightly less Herculean task!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Fermilab has geese in the cooling ponds. They were migrating but were like “Hey, this water is pleasantly warm, and there are lots of absentminded scientist types wandering around to provide food.”

      1. Not Totally Subclinical*

        I worked there one summer during college and remember the geese (and the goose poop) vividly, if not exactly fondly. At least the bison stayed behind fences and wouldn’t walk up to you going “puny human, you may seek the secrets of subatomic particles, but don’t forget who rules this site”.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          At least an unruly bison can be bribed with Nilla wafers (yes, they apparently love Nillas.) A goose is going to flat out mug you for the entire box and then demand all your lunch money in the bargain.

      2. AnonPi*

        lol, I work at ORNL and we have geese in our pond but not a cooling pond. Instead of absentminded its often more of the ‘ooh look nature!’ -there’s quite the fascination with the turtles and large (invasive) carp, at least until the geese start chasing them off. They actually tried chasing the geese off with a motorized boat in the pond but quickly realized that it was futile.

        1. allathian*

          Pretty much the only thing that will keep geese off a pond is a pair of nesting swans, even geese know better than to mess with *them*.

    3. NotRealAnonForThis*

      They’re straight nasty. I’ve been attacked by one for coming within about 25′ of their nest, apparently. It was tucked up against the building, I was on the far edge of a sidewalk. Next thing I know I have a goose flapping and pecking at the back of my head. &*%$ing thing drew actual blood.

      We saw it attack a MINI the next day. The car was unoccupied and still, for the record, while the goose was swooping, flapping, and pecking the windshield. They disappeared as a group after we saw the group pin a few folks in their lobby (swooping and pecking at the glass door).

    4. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      The scariest thing I ever had to do in college was cross open green space filled with a large flock of geese early in the morning. There was a lottery for basketball tickets (at a D1 basketball school with a large fan following) and I was lucky enough to get the earliest time slot to go wait in line, which meant I needed to be there at like 5am or something like that. Walking across a virtually empty campus, I encountered only geese on the way there. It was clear they were not going to cede the path to me and it only took a couple of honks and “come at me” gestures from the leader goose to know that I was no match for the whole flock–I took a much more circuitous route across campus.

    5. Heart&Vine*

      I went to a live interview with Betty White at the NY Times back in 2013. She’s famous for being an animal lover and would often host events and visit charities where live animals were involved. The interviewer asked her if she was ever attacked by an animal since she had interacted with quite an array of predators. She said the worst injury she ever got from an animal was a swan that nearly broke her leg. She said its wingspan was huge and it smacked her right in the shin. She could barely walk for a week.

      I know a swan isn’t a goose but they are practically the same thing as far as their territorialism and generally mean attitude. I don’t blame the OP one bit! I wouldn’t even have to have a phobia of geese to not want to face that situation on a regular basis!

      1. La Triviata*

        Swans might be worse, since they’re larger and fool people because they’re so pretty. In England, there was a swan known as ASBO, after the English Anti-Social Behavior Order.

          1. NotRealAnonForThis*

            Uncertain as to whether the fight I saw over the summer between (definitely) a Canadian Goose and a swan involved a trumpter or a mute, but holy hell. The goose definitely LOST that one.

      2. Lime green Pacer*

        Yup, when I took an “Intro to Birdwatching” course years ago, we were warned that attacking Canada Geese can break an arm or leg, so steer well clear.

        1. Heather*

          That has to be an urban legend, no? Birds have hollow bones, so I’m pretty sure they would break their own limbs long before they managed to break yours, unless of course you tripped over one and fell on your own arm or something. I can’t find any reputable sources saying it’s a real risk.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            Hollow means lighter, not that much weaker, (Think of bird bone internal structure as a series of support pillars, not an empty shell), and there are confirmed reports of swans at least breaking arms. I think legs are much less likely, though I’ve heard of a *bite* to a foot breaking some small bones.

            I figure I’d get bruised enough trying to test the theory; it doesn’t take a broken bone to dissuade me.

          2. Birdnerd*

            Mostly the risk of broken bones from a goose attack is indirect, for example, the goose can knock someone over or cause them to run into an object and that’s what results in broken bones. That being said, it’s less the bird’s bones that are the source of potential damage than their pectoral muscles, which provide the power for the downstroke of their wings. (And the upstroke, incidentally, but the upstroke is powered by the pectoralis minor, while the downstroke utilizes the much, much larger and stronger pectoralis major.) Birds have enormous pectoralis muscles compared to their overall size and those muscles are incredibly strong because it takes great physical power to achieve and maintain flight, particularly for birds like geese, which are quite large and fly long distances. There is a huge amount of force produced by a wingbeat and if that wing beats on your body it can cause a surprising amount of damage. But, ultimately, in terms of having a bone fractured or broken by a direct strike from a goose wing, children are at far greater risk than a fully grown adult.

    6. AnonInCanada*

      Especially with climate change the way it is, those damn cobra chickens don’t fly south for the winter anymore. They’ll graze on the grass under the snow (what little we get of it in this part of the Great White North) and hide in the bushes to shelter themselves from the wind. And don’t even think about going near them when they’re moulting or raising chicks.

      Have you ever played Untitled Goose Game? Picture that goose, in cobra chicken livery, but 100 times worse!

      1. RC*

        I played it in a weekend, and that was my first thought on this post lol. I’m not sure if that would help cope, or would exacerbate, an existing phobia? (You play as the goose, cause general mayhem to all the humans. Nothing violent, just like “steal the toy from the child” or maybe “break the pot” by startling a human carrying the pot, “have a picnic” by stealing various foods from the garden, etc. Set to a plonky mischief piano soundtrack, I enjoyed it.)

      2. Dwight Schrute*

        Oh they’re still down here in Georgia and they are meannnnn! I am always afraid of them when they nest

    7. mb*

      I cannot count how many times I’ve had bad encounters with the Canada geese, particularly in the spring when they are protecting their young, and expecially when walking my dog (a small Boston Terrier, so not intimidating at all). I live in a city right on Lake Ontario so I just stay away from geese in the spring. While I don’t have an animal phobia, I can really sympathize with OP here – geese in particular are awful.

    8. Toodooloo*

      Came here to say that! I have no animal phobias, but I hate geese and will avoid them whenever possible. Nesting geese are particularly aggressive. I cannot imagine that this retail store wasn’t losing business over having one or more aggressive wild geese in front.

      1. SansSerif*

        That’s what I was thinking. How come the geese didn’t bother the other employees or customers? It wouldn’t take a phobia not to want to go to a store where geese attack you.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I have no animal phobias and in general love all animals. Dogs, cats, amphibians, reptiles. I horrified my in-laws by waxing rhapsodic about carrying a boa constrictor around. I’ve kept pet rats. Basically any animal I meet I’m like FRIEND!

        Except large birds. Especially geese. Fuck geese in particular. My aunt had geese that chased me down and bit me when I was minding my own business 15 feet away from them and it’s been ON SIGHT ever since.

    9. Sophie*

      They are the devil. We live near water and it’s a constant battle to keep them out. Last summer one of them tried to attack my 3 year old nephew on our beach. And they will absolutely charge vehicles as another commenter mentioned. We’ve tried humane methods of keeping them away but haven’t found anything that works well yet.

    10. Dust Bunny*

      No, they aren’t.

      I remember when I lived in Denver there were whole city parks rendered unusable due to goose aggression and poop. They would attack small children at the zoo.

      My favorite place to see Canada geese is flying overhead on their way to somewhere else.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        I think maybe it’s the geese that are much further south–I live in Georgia, and while Canada geese have been plentiful in and around ponds/lakes my whole life, they’ve never been hostile/attacked anyone down here that I know.

        1. WonderCootie*

          We get them in North Florida, and they’re mean as can be. Our church is on a lake, and we usually have at least one nest around the property every year. One time, they nested right next to the office door, so we had to go through the side door for a couple months.

        2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          Though after reading all of the comments here, clearly I have been playing with fire without even knowing it. Or possibly playing with a lit match two inches away from a vat of gasoline.

          Am I from some weird family of Canada goose whisperers? As I said in a post above, they frequented my grandparents’ pond, and they/we loved them. No damage ever (I mean, some goose poop here and there, but it was all yard or pier, so no big deal).

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            Maybe you are! My grandmother used to live in an apartment complex right near a river and had geese in the grassy areas all the time, blocking sidewalks etc. She never had any issues at all. One time she noticed one had a fishing line wrapped around its leg and it let her take it off it no problem!

          2. Freya*

            Possibly like Australia’s swoopybois (magpies) which can be quite aggressive if you get on their bad side during the wrong season, and who apparently talk to each other and spread the word if you anger or please them enough.

            I don’t think I’ve ever been swooped, but I also feed my local magpie family magpie-safe treats on an irregular basis (especially since the 2019/2020 bushfires that burnt out a lot of their local foraging grounds). The current batch of fledglings is technically almost old enough to leave the nest for good, but they haven’t quite transitioned to picking up their own bugs off the ground or out of my compost bin yet.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I swear those geese take… poops… bigger than human.

        We had a guy at an old job who loved to park his shiny new red convertible in the visitors lot, that my and my teammates’ desks were facing. (He was a contractor and as such allowed to park in the visitors.) One day he left his top down and a large Canada goose flew by and landed on the seat of his car and the whole department came to our cubicles to watch. Don’t remember if the goose pooped. But we all wanted it to. The guy was annoying.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          They do when getting ready to migrate! It’s like, midsummer they give these icky but normal sized poops, then come late September and October, and suddenly WOAH let’s avoid THAT big pile…

          (One of those factoids that amuses the heck out of me is that in places where Olives were not known, the old name for Olive Green was “Goose poop Green”…)

          1. datamuse*

            Yup. Gotta dump the ballast before takeoff, you know. ;)

            I’m an amateur naturalist and wildlife tracker and the number of times I’ve found poop (and sometimes pellets) accompanying tracks that clearly indicate the bird took off immediately afterward is not zero.

    11. Michaela T*

      yeah, OP says no customers complained but also that the store wasn’t busy. I’m wondering how many people saw a nesting goose by the door said NOPE and kept walking.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        Me, that would be me.

        Not literally, as I’ve never been in that exact situation. But I can tell you for sure there is NOTHING I need badly enough, from any store, that I would walk past a cobra chicken to get it.

      2. RLC*

        That would be me, too. I’ve been attacked from behind by animals twice in my life:
        Doberman Pinscher and Canada Goose

        1. STAT!*

          I also have only been attacked from behind on land twice by animals, both times by blue heelers. Yep, Bluey’s family. (From the air by magpies, too often to say.)

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Not a goose story, but this reminded me of how in our first year of college, my roommates and I were assigned a room in a two-room suite, where the second, smaller room was occupied by a much older (30 when we were 17), large, messy, noisy, perpetually angry man. He was a foreign student from a country that had a big and active community on campus and even his community wanted nothing to do with him. After three years* of us suffering in silence living next to him, he got sick and had to drop out and move back home. We now had a vacancy. One of my roommate took a position on the campus student council specifically so she could be present and speak up if they decided to stick us with another bad suitemate.

        One day we came back from classes to see two older, male, foreign students from the same community, moving into our suite. (They turned out to be much nicer than the previous guy, thankfully.) We were shellshocked. How did this happen, we wanted to know. We soon found out.

        Our roommate missed ONE student council meeting. At that meeting, one of the items on the agenda was two new students and which dorm room to put them in. Someone said, “suite XYZ has a vacancy, let’s put them there. The three girls who live there already lived next to an older guy for three years and they never complained, SO THEY MUST LIKE IT” and so we got new suitemates that day.

        We hadn’t complained because we thought there was no point in complaining; no one would’ve moved us, or our large angry neighbor, to another room. And I think you’re 100% right that no one complained because they couldn’t be bothered to. (Also possibly because these geese are such a heavily protected species that people may have thought nothing would come out of them complaining.)

        * this was not in the US. Renting wasn’t an option. Moving away was not an option. Unless your parents had a lot of cash for alternate living arrangements, you stayed on campus all five years, and very few of us math majors had parents with a lot of cash.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        I think that is great example of circular logic! “Nobody’s coming in and they keep crossing the street and screaming about ‘devil birds,’ but hey, complaints are down!”

      5. Pointy's in the North Tower*

        In my state (Oklahoma), that number would be “a lot.” We have both resident and migratory Candian geese. It’s common knowledge that one does not mess with the geese, particularly nesting ones.

        My agency headquarters is in a large tower office building. A goose has nested in a flowerbox near one of the doors for years. That door is just marked “Out of Service” for four months of the year. People have been chased across the parking lot. It’s Serious Business.

    12. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Geese are vicious. I do not have a phobia but a goose that regularly attacks would be a hard pass for me too.

      But I do have some specific phobias and would definitely quit if I had to walk through my phobias to get to work every day.

    13. Pescadero*

      Here in Michigan they are blindingly common – and we even get the Giant Canada Goose (largest subspecies)… but even the largest are only a 10lb bird.

      They are really aggressive (see also: Wild Turkey, Swans) – but it’s all an act. Worst thing they’ll do is peck at you with their blunt bill. A few swift kicks gets rid of them quick.

      1. Arabella Flynn*

        I live in Boston, where feral turkeys are a seasonal fixture. More than once I have wandered through Harvard Square and seen a lane of traffic at a complete standstill, because a gargantuan turkey was staring down a truck, and the driver caved first. The birds like to hang around outside of Dunkin Donuts, just like the human locals.

        I also once shared my sandwich crusts with one of the park squirrels down on the Esplanade while watching a grudge match between a family of four (armed with lacrosse equipment) and a handful of geese. You can probably guess who won.

        1. Parakeet*

          Heh, I was attacked by a Boston feral turkey last year. It had to follow me at length in order to do so. I never figured out what I did to offend it.

        2. LifeBeforeCorona*

          I take a rural road to my work and almost every morning at the same time and place a Tom turkey is escorting his family across the road. He stares my car down, daring me to drive towards him. If I encounter him while driving the work truck I might but I can’t risk my small car. That guy is itching for a fight.

    14. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      once I got chased by geese and that was scary. ( I live in the South, USA) A workplace issue is that a kid threw a stick at a goose and I was like wtf, kid. ( he was unharmed)

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Even the white domestic ones are aggressive. (Is Puss in Boots a cultural reference that anyone else will get?)

    16. Cranky-saurus Rex*

      I’ve heard a joke that the stereotype that Canadians are so nice is because SOMETHING has to balance out their geese

      1. Zelda*

        Have heard a version in which there is a dark ritual, once a year, to drain all of the meanness out of Canadian humans and transfer it to the geese.

    17. Starbuck*

      Honestly I know their aggression really sucks for everyone who’s on the receiving end of it (I have been!) but if anything, I’m proud of them. It’s not easy for wildlife to live right alongside humans, dogs, traffic, etc. but they’re managing it. Thriving in an urban environment is impressive, most large wildlife species can’t do it.

      1. Foila*

        Yeah, and like other urban wildlife they do it partly by just not giving a shit. They are undaunted by all our human foibles. They do precisely what they want. (I similarly respect raccoons and seagulls. While simultaneously being annoyed by them.)

    18. Batty Winged Bat*

      Back when we were dating, my husband (boyfriend at the time) ran afoul of a goose way down in Alabama where I’m from. He didn’t do anything except…walk past it? We still joke to this day that the goose is going to find him and kill him someday.

    19. Ex-prof*

      If by “much nicer” you mean getting aggressive while spreading green poop all over the walkways, then yes, they are much nicer down here.

    20. LifeBeforeCorona*

      We have them here and in the Spring I avoid certain paths by the lake because they have taken over that spot for their nests and will approach with spread wings if you get too close. They are taken so seriously that when dozens cross a busy road cars stop for them because they know the geese will mess with you without a second thought.

    21. Karriegrace*

      Nesting Canadian geese make my usual weekend walk impossible here in April (I live in Buffalo) but my dear friend, who has a small accounting firm, had nesting geese in their office park that would attack their clients. In the end they had to move offices.

    22. JobHop*

      Jumping in late here–chiming in that all geese are territorial.

      We had a house fire on the family farm when I was in 6th grade, and I was at school. Family was fine, they drove to a neighbor’s house, where the rest of us met up after school/work.

      Guess who was protecting the farm from the firefighters? Yep. Our Watch-Geese.

      It was famously on the front page of the newspaper.

    23. learnedthehardway*

      The company my father worked for (that I also worked at while in college) didn’t have to have security guards. They had “Attack Geese” – aka the flock of Canadian geese that made a horrendous noise and would attack the ankles of anyone who dared to cross the no-man’s-land grassy area between the road and the fences.

    24. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I am one of those people whose last words are probably going to be “pspspsps” and I will turn right around and leave the park if a goose makes eye contact with me. Your park now, sir/ma’am, I apologize for trespassing.

    25. Shakti*

      They aren’t nicer in the south! I currently live in Florida and there was a Canada goose that terrorized my neighborhood for 2 months straight before we could get it properly relocated because it’s federally protected. An elderly woman had to go to the hospital, people were trapped in their homes, it hit a toddler! You don’t mess with geese anywhere, I completely get the phobia it was a nightmare

    26. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      There was a flock of the Canadian geese on the lake between the labs and main campus (UK) and let’s just say staff and students got very good at running.

      They were never nice and biology department basically believed they subsisted on a diet of terrified human flesh. The geese that is, not the biology department. We preferred coffee.

    27. Erin*

      Agreed, I was going to say, I feel like these can be aggressive animals and no phobia is necessary (although of course relevant to the situation to bring up). Just saying, this could’ve been an issue for a non-animal phobic person. :)

      I feel like, phobias aside, management or the building owner or someone should have taken precautions to protect the geese while nesting, having people go in another entrance if possible, or otherwise brainstorming solutions around that, maybe contacting experts in the field for advice.

    28. Stoney Lonesome*

      My grandmother grew up in a small town in Germany. She said her father would warn her not to go near the lake when she was little because of the “murder geese.” Supposedly, a little girl had gotten too close to the nest and the geese had grabbed her and drowned her.

      Whether this is true, or something my great-grandfather made up, I have no idea. It might have just been a cautionary tale to keep curious children away from aggressive geese. Still good to be cautious even if they won’t literally murder you.

    29. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, I am shocked this didn’t reach the level of customer complaint. On second thought… I guess the customers that would complain probably also just decided not to enter the store!

      I think most humans with any sense of safety should have at least some fear of geese lol. There is a walking path near my house that I take several times a week and I have definitely chosen to change course when there were several geese blocking the path–especially in spring when there were little goslings they would be protective of!

      I wouldn’t say I have a phobia but I would definitely be nervous and afraid of a goose guarding it’s nest and be very wary of walking past it. After it actually attacked once, heck no I would never approach that thing ever again.

      While being up front with your boss would have been good, OP involved their parent AND animal control which I think frankly is already significantly more responsible than many high schoolers would have been in that situation. I would look back on this not as something you may have handled wrong, but as an absolutely ridiculous situation that can be pulled out as a funny anecdote at parties.

    30. Twyll*

      Interestingly, a lot of Canada Geese have become sedentary in the US and simply stopped migrating– which causes problems because the law still treats them as migratory birds with all the attendant restrictions, but we end up dealing with sedentary-bird problems like nesting behavior.

    31. Madeline*

      Yeah I almost don’t believe that they never had a complaint from a customer unless that’s why they were so slow.

    32. Christine*

      I love animals and am good at handling them, but Canadian geese are very large, strong birds. I wouldn’t be afraid of them, but I would be cautious and ready to fight back, if necessary!

  2. Jade*

    I had to dodge aggressive geese at my first job during college. If you’ve never been chased by a pizzed off goose, you don’t know lol.

    1. Miss Chanandler Bong*

      For real. We always had geese at my college. One day, I was walking back to my car (I was aggravated because I had to park far away that day; the joys of a small private college, lol) and there was this goose with her goslings. I was nowhere near that goose; I was minding my own business, walking to my car.

      That ***** goose started chasing me. Squawking, the whole nine yards. I was like, girl, chill out! Thankfully when she started doing this, I was near my car so I just got in quickly, but yeah, that was an experience…they are the devil.

    2. ChaoticNeutral*

      A goose chased me and my dog for about 10 seconds once and I was absolutely terrified because it felt like it truly meant me harm lol. I’ve encountered wild boar, alligators, even a baby shark in the water once but that goose was the scariest of all. And I DO love animals!

      1. iglwif*

        My 25lb dog has been trying to make friends with the neighbourhood Canada goose flocks (we have several, or else the same ones hang out in several different spots) since he was a dumbass puppy.

        Nobody wants a goose friend … except this dog.

        The number of times I have said “Geese are LONG-DISTANCE friends, buddy” over the past 6 years …

        1. properlike*

          HONK gander goose

          Can you get one of those beaks that attached with an elastic band and some fake wings? Maybe the puppy would be welcome in the flock?

      2. Miss Chanandler Bong*

        I tell people I once encountered a shark while snorkeling and seeing their horrified expressions when I tell them it was no big deal is hilarious. But geese…

    3. Loose Socks*

      I took my kids to a graveyard that had a large, beautiful pound. There were geese all around it, and when they discovered we didn’t bring snacks, they were FURIOUS! Hissing grease cane at is with wings open, I put my kids behind me and kicked one or two of them like footballs. I want about to let a goose chase my kids, lol. They let us walk back to the car after that.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I like the symmetry if this – geese viciously protect their young, but humans absolutely get that way too!

      2. Distracted Librarian*

        This is the secret to dealing with geese – go on the offense. We used to raise geese. Our gander would come at me every time I entered the pen, so I started coming in armed with a garbage can lid or flattened box. He came at me, I whacked him. Only took a couple of whacks to get him to back off.

  3. Just Another Zebra*

    Ok, but nesting geese are terrifying creatures! We have a bunch that nest around a nearby pond. They are vicious little ex-dinosaurs.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh, I don’t think they’re “ex” anything. I see them as a secret sect, still holding their ceremonies in safe houses, chanting at the dark of the moon…

  4. Poison I.V. drip*

    The geese were nesting in the empty planter because that feels like an island to them. So it felt (to them) safe. If nothing else, they’ll nest wherever they can find, but in the absence of an actual island, an empty planter was prime real estate. Hence, the most aggressive bird got it.

    1. handfulofbees*

      This is fascinating! Never would’ve crossed my mind. Cheers for the goose behavior lesson!

  5. FashionablyEvil*

    Nesting geese can be HOSTILE. My company inevitably sends out emails once or twice a year along the lines of “Please avoid parking in the south corner of the parking lot. There are aggressive nesting geese.” I’m kind of surprised they weren’t also a problem for customers.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I suspect they were a problem for customers but they had exceptionally nice reasonable customers who didn’t complain because they realized geese gangs hang out where they will and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

      1. RunfromtheGeese*

        Sorry but I am chuckling at Geese Gang. I am imagining Geese in the 50s style (think Grease or West Side story) outfits. Leather jackets, jeans and white shirt, all while smoking a cigarette. LOL

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          We have a pond at work by the road you drive in on. These MFers will straight attack your CAR. They don’t care. They are not afraid. If they’re crossing when you need to drive in too bad you are going to wait however long they feel like taking.

          They’ve done many things to try to get rid of them but like their Jurassic Park cousins, life finds a way.

          I actually love them for it.

          1. sacrealgoecc*

            “I actually love them for it.”

            Like, truly, I tell people loudly how much I hate geese at the time but if we’re being honest, I have mad respect for them. Never give in, Cobra Chickens!

        2. Grits McGee*

          When you’re a goose, you’re a goose all the way; from your first little honk to your last flying day…

        3. Camp staff*

          I recently watched 2 groups of geese vie for the same grassy area at dusk and it was exactly like watching West Side Story.

      2. Random Bystander*

        Or the customers just quietly went somewhere where the Geese Gauntlet was not a thing and they could enter the shop in safety (at least, extrapolating from the “not a busy store” in the letter).

      3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Or the customers simply stopped being customers because they were afraid to go in like OP! No complaints because they never got as far as the entrance. I’m wondering whether sales took a hit in fact.

    2. Zelda*

      Great Lakes region checking in– I promise the geese *were* a problem for customers. Many customers. Just none of them will have braved the onslaught long enough to complain. A lucky few got into the store without an encounter, and those who had encounters fled the scene and didn’t expend energy making phone calls afterwards.

      1. Goose hater*

        Exactly! I probably wouldn’t have gone into the store at all. I wonder if sales tanked every year in the spring.

      2. Pescadero*

        Where I’ve lived in Michigan – you have two choices…. you either learn to deal with the goose problem, or you lock yourself in your house for 3 months a year and never go anywhere.

        If geese drove customers away – every business would fail.

      3. Yorick*

        I agree. I wouldn’t go into a store and complain to the manager about the geese unless an employee pushed me into them or something else that was both serious and the store’s fault in some way.

  6. Observer*

    OP, I’m with Allison. Don’t beat yourself up about this. Especially over not bringing it up when you were hired. I mean, who expects an aggressive nesting goose at the door of your store?

    In the US, the one thing that *might* come into play here would be the ADA. I say “might” because it’s not clear if your phobia would be covered, and also if the whole rigmarole to move the goose would be considered a reasonable accommodation. But generally speaking, it’s often worth considering.

    1. Jojo*

      Canada Geese are covered by the Migratory Bird Act, so the effort to remove them is very likely well beyond a reasonable accommodation.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Exactly. Goose prevention is important, but once the geese nest it’s illegal to move or interfere with them under most circumstances.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        From the letter it sounds like there was a process that could have been initiated but they didn’t want to bother with it since no customers had complained. Seems wild to me as I think it’s safe to assume they absolutely lost some customers who were also unwilling to walk past an aggressive goose to get into the store!

    2. Smithy*

      While there have definitely been retrospective emails sent in about teen jobs that had awful moments of unprofessionalism, horrific conditions, or ill treatment – I’m also here for normalizing leaving jobs in your teens for reasons far less substantive than when you’re older.

      So often leaving these jobs get framed as giving up or quitting in a really negative sense. And while sure, it’s not ideal, going through the process of seeing if a phobia would be covered by the ADA for a part-time cashier job and then pressing that claim at work…..vs. quitting and then trying to find another job later on. I’m just not sure that kind of bureaucratic struggle is great way to set a teen up for the working world later on.

      I think taking the time with a teen to think through better ways to quit and worse ways to quit makes a lot of sense. Because I think part of the why the OP still feels poorly about this is likely due to how they quit. But so many of these jobs that hire teens are bad or really don’t work with a school schedule – and it’s just ok to quit.

      1. Jaybeetee*

        I agree with this. Similar to the recent letter from a retail worker who felt they couldn’t quit until their boss hired a replacement – just go! High turnover is baked into the nature of these jobs, no one will actually hold it against you as long as you’re not a jerk on your way out, they’re probably already paying you as little as they legally can – if it’s not working out for any reason, it’s okay to quit, and replacing you is their problem and what they get paid to do!

        Honestly, this applies to every kind of job – as they say, even if you die on the way to work, the ad for your job will be posted faster than your obituary. It’s business and you don’t need to compromise your physical/mental/financial health for any employer. But especially for teenagers and young adults in minimum wage or entry-level jobs? Hell, just walk out of there if it’s not working for you.

        1. Smithy*

          Absolutely. And in these early years, I do think there can be a lot of catastrophizing around what your early years can mean for your later years. For example – get a bad grade, you won’t get into a good college, won’t get a good job, etc.

          When so often the reality is more if someone likes school, they’re willing to stick with it even when it gets challenging and they don’t have easy success. Liking an early job, having an early job where you make friends – just those pieces that make having a job feel good, as well as learning the basics of showing up, following the rules, being professional, etc. – just seems like a far more practical approach vs proving you’re not a quitter.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        Agreeing very much with you. That kind of attitude (which my parents did NOT foster, but which I picked up on, anyway – probably due to being a teen during a serious economic recession in a mid-size town) led to me not knowing when to quit in my second “real” job after university. Oddly, I’d traded up from my first real job (admin in commercial real estate) to the second job just fine – I was progressing my career, earning more money, etc. But I didn’t have the same sense that I could just quit a horrible work environment / abusive manager.

        I’ve been clear with my kids and nieces/nephews that sticking with something is good, but knowing when to cut your losses is completely valid, too.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        I agree. As a teenager, you usually aren’t financially dependent on your job – there are exceptions, but most teens have parents who can support them – and school is your main, and already a full-time, job. If you have a student job, it’s basically your side gig. And employers ought to be aware of this. If employers choose to take on under-18s, they know those young people are likely to be at school, that their availability may change if they have important exams coming up, that they are subject to the whims of their parents (if parents choose to move out of the area, kid can no longer do the job, for example) and that they will likely be leaving to go to college or get a full-time job once they finish school. And the jobs are often ones that are relatively easy to fill if somebody leaves.

        So on both sides, it is usually lower stakes than adult employment tends to be. This isn’t to say teens should just quit with no notice or not take their jobs seriously. That is building bad habits for them and while employers may not have the same investment in them that they would have in somebody they hope will stay in the job for decades, nonetheless they usually do need somebody to cover those hours. But if it’s not working out, it’s reasonable to give notice and quit.

        As others have said, it’s reasonable to do that in ANY job, but as an adult, possibly with a mortgage or rent and/or children, you often have to be sure of having something else lined up first and honestly, even if you can afford to just quit, there can be concerns about a gap on your resume, which is unlikely to be an issue when your resume for that time shows you were in school.

        In this case, quitting meant a drop in income whereas remaining in the job involved what sounds like a fair degree of trauma.

      1. Starbuck*

        That was an option offered, but the geese were there too.

        “we would drive by the store, I would see if there were geese by the side door, and, if there were, I would cite grief over my uncle as the reason why I could not come in to work.”

  7. Be Gneiss*

    I can’t believe that no customers were complaining, and I can only assume that’s because no customers could get past the goose to make a complaint. Short of, I don’t know, maybe needing to get into a hospital emergency room, I can’t think of a building where I would be motivated to square up against a nesting goose to get inside. Nope x1000.

    1. Antilles*

      I mean, the geese probably were annoying customers, causing complaints, and hurting business.
      However, nesting geese are protected under a whole mess of international treaties, federal laws, and state laws so it’s possible that the company decided it was easier to just wait out the couple months of nesting.

      1. Be Gneiss*

        I mean, the LW said that she was referred to someone who could do goose removal (presumably legally) and it needed the okay of the store owner, which the manager wouldn’t get because no customers were complaining.

          1. metadata minion*

            That almost certainly would count as disturbing them. Laws about nesting birds can be very strict.

          2. Pescadero*

            For Michigan –

            “It is illegal to touch, move, or possess any part of the nest or eggs without the proper permit.”

          3. Lab Boss*

            Migratory Bird Law is right up there with Tree Law in the US for “things that seem like they should be pretty trivial but will absolutely wreck you for life if you mess around without knowing what you’re doing.”

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, if there were nesting geese at the door of a business I wanted to go to, I probably wouldn’t complain either. I’d just take my custom elsewhere. I’m guessing a lot of people just did that.

  8. Pookster*

    Our local Kohl’s had some nesting geese by one of their entrances. They had to rope it off as the geese were chasing people and had everyone use the other entrance. Geese are super aggressive!

  9. Juicebox Hero*

    The college I went to was right across the road from an assisted living place that had a big artificial pond on their property, and the place was a goose magnet. Natually they loved the big sprawling grassy college campus as well.

    Goose 101 was actually part of the orientation and basically boiled down to “stay the hell away from the geese. Don’t try to feed, pet, or hunt (yep) the geese. The geese are not nice. The geese will peck, hiss, and come after you. If you see goslings, get the heck out of dodge before you have to face the wrath of Mama Goose. Oh, and watch out for poop, which is EVERYWHERE.”

    Geese are evil.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Unlike some birds, geese poop when they walk, rather than when they fly. If they are walking around, there is a 100% chance of goose poop.

      It is truly nasty stuff, too.

      1. Lisa Simpson*

        My high school had a permanent flock of Canada geese, and during outdoor gym season you’d see big clumps of green “mud” (goose poop) in the hallway between the field and the locker rooms, because the fields were so thick with feces.

        It’s frankly a miracle no one ever got sick.

      2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        SOME geese. I live in an area with a huge goose population, and one day, while driving to work, a low-flying goose crapped on our car. It must have been holding it in for a week, because that load hit our windshield so hard that my husband, who was driving, swerved involuntarily. It mostly hit the passenger side. Unfortunately, I had my window open just about an inch or less, and I got a spray of goose poop on my face, hair, and clothes. As did the back seat. Trust me, those feathered bastards can and do poop while airborne if the need arises.

    2. not nice, don't care*

      Geese are like two-legged feathered cows when it comes to poop. We had domestic geese that would escape their pen, hang out on the front & back steps long enough to leave many large piles, then mosey across the creek bottom to harass the elderly neighbor lady until we could go herd them back.

  10. Fluffy Initiative*

    At a previous job we had Animal Control come remove a pair of geese that were attacking anyone who got near their nest… which was under a bush next to the door that employees had to use for access to/from the parking lot. They are nasty birds!

    I’m surprised that the manager would rather wait for a customer to be attacked rather than have the geese removed. That seems likely to drive off customers, too!

    1. Zelda*

      As OP pointed out, it’s not entirely a matter of what the manager would rather; there are legal protections. If you’re quick and get them seen off by a trained border collie or something, you can prevent them settling in, but that’s probably not cheap. And once the geese have established a nest, you literally can’t legally do anything.

      1. soontoberetired*

        My company uses border collies to control geese. They are nasty creatures to have around for all sorts of reasons besides the aggressiveness. The collie is fun to watch, he loves chasing the geese. Very effective.

      2. Student*

        At one place I worked, we had the same problem with magpie nests, with the notable hitch that the magpies liked making nests in the company pick-up trucks.

        If you scared them off while they were trying to build the nest, it was legal. If the magpie made their nest without you noticing, then you couldn’t dislodge them legally – so the truck became theirs for the rest of nesting season.

        Some of our very clever grounds folks made fake magpie nests to put in the trucks. That would apparently dissuade other magpies from trying to make a nest in the truck because it appeared occupied by a valid avian. Thus, arts and crafts kept the wildlife from periodically repossessing our work vehicles.

  11. HailRobonia*

    Also: phobias are no joke. I am deeply ashamed that in high school I repeatedly teased a friend who had a phobia of butterflies about her fear. After all, why would someone be afraid of a pretty little fluttery bug?

    Stupid insensitive me didn’t understand that phobias by their nature are not rational and furthermore what I was doing was outright bullying.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yeah, that’s the sad thing about phobias — they’re just not rational.

      At least you have the excuse that you were a teenager and had not been made aware of this. A lot of adults have been made aware of this and still don’t care. The cringe means you have grown.

    2. RunfromtheGeese*

      Yes, I have pretty awful fear of costumed characters and Santa. Like mascots at a baseball or football game. No one believes me and no one takes it seriously. I hate it. They tease me endlessly. Now I try really hard and put on a brave face for my kids, but inside I am secretly dying.

      1. Cyndi*

        I have a phobia I simply don’t share with people any more because everyone wants to rules lawyer it. It’s as if I had a phobia of llamas (which isn’t anything close to it, for the record) and people kept going “But you’re cool with alpacas, right?” NO.

        1. AGD*

          I had a phobia for years that is rare but understandable (analogously, think “landslides and rock falls and earthquakes”) (I can’t explain why it has settled way down in adulthood, but I’m grateful), and one time I mentioned it just to see what would happen. The other person, normally sympathetic, sputtered a bit and repeated the noun with a tone of “you cannot be serious.”

          1. AGD*

            So I really feel for anyone dealing with a phobia, but particularly when it’s about something that strikes people as benign and/or positive.

      2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Oh man, I don’t have that phobia and mascots still have scared me multiple times just by showing up in places where I wasn’t expecting them (when my university’s mascot was getting off the elevator I was about to get on, for example). I feel for you–that cannot be fun to deal with.

      3. BuildMeUp*

        I wouldn’t call mine a phobia, but I also find mascots incredibly disconcerting. I’m not sure if it’s just the proportions or if sometimes there’s an uncanny valley-type affect going on, but I get it!

    3. La Triviata*

      I was reading something written by a person who’d worked at a butterfly farm; seemingly, some people who went there complained that they were afraid of butterflies. He didn’t understand why they went there (neither do I). If you have a phobia, you have my sympathy, but avoid them if possible.

      1. Cute As Cymraeg*

        When my brother was small-ish (about ten?) we decided to take a family trip to a butterfly farm. Since he’d had a sleepover with his best friend Rhys the night before, Rhys was invited to come to.

        Rhys waited the ENTIRE hour’s drive* AND until my parents had bought all our (non-refundable) entry tickets to inform us that he was terrified of butterflies…

        *We’re in the UK. An hour’s drive for an afternoon excursion is fairly unusual.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      They really aren’t. I work with someone with a dog phobia and you can tell they do not enjoy it at ALL.

    5. Becca*

      Phobias really really are not rational. I have a phobia of something that most people find unpleasant and would prefer to avoid being around. Unfortunately that means most people just assume I also think it’s unpleasant and want to avoid it.

      They don’t understand that for me (and others with the same fear) it’s a really persistent anxiety, that even the slightest hint that it might happen makes me very very anxious, and at times I’ve had intrusive thoughts about it, that I can’t even really bear reading or hearing about it. I’m aware exposure therapy would in theory help but the thought is unbearable. Some people with this fear get to the point where they cannot leave the house and although I’ve never been close to that bad I can really understand why they get tot that point.

  12. Goldenrod*

    Aww, OP, I’m sorry you had to deal with this! I’m not scared of geese, but I agree that they can be very aggressive and intimidating, even to someone like me who is pretty fearless around animals.

    I want to thank you for your letter for a different reason. Sometimes I look back at things I did as a teen or young adult (I’m middle aged now!) and feel really terrible and even sometimes guilty or anxious about things I did. I was a well-behaved kid, and didn’t do anything objectively awful. But my mind will still sometimes dwell on the past in an unforgiving way.

    Your letter (and Alison’s answer) reminded me: You were just a kid! Forgive yourself! Yeah, like Alison said, ideally you’d speak up right in the beginning and articulate the issue to your manager. But learning how to do this is something that takes a lot of us a LONG time. I had really undeveloped problem-solving skills as a teen.

    I agree with Alison that you couldn’t have been expected to handle this perfectly as a teen!

    Thanks for helping me get some perspective on my own issues, too!

    1. tabihabibi*

      Yes! A teenage person able to follow Allison’s script would have my undying respect, but so much sympathy for the kid OP used to be who was not there.

  13. Sara*

    I have a fear of geese that I wouldn’t classify as a full phobia, but maybe like a general distrust where I’d rather cross the street when I see them. Just having geese hang out in front of a business would be problematic for me. I’ve turned around and gone back in a building to wait out geese that are just somewhat near my car.

    NESTING geese are a whole different beast! I cannot imagine that they didn’t a) lose business if there were that many attacking you or b) have customer complaints. Nesting geese are so much more prone to attacking people for just walking near them – they should have dealt with that at a corporate level.

    1. BubbleTea*

      Likewise, I don’t precisely have a phobia of birds but I discovered in my early 20s, when trying to assist an injured juvenile pigeon that had somehow wound up on my doorstep, that I am afraid of them at a deep instinctive level, and that only got worse when a Canada goose dive bombed my car a week after I’d given birth, and shattered the windshield. (Unbelievably, there was no sign of the goose being injured or killed – but my car was undriveable.) I now have to be extremely careful when I drive and birds are nearby because I get very jittery.

  14. Where Wolf?*

    I’m shocked one of the related articles is not the one about the employee who quit when a coworker with a bird phobia pushed her into a car to get away from a bird in a parking lot.

    1. saskia*

      It’s obviously relevant subject matter, but I think it insensitive to link this OP to someone who seriously injured another person.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        It’s not like any of us are going to accuse OP of injuring anyone. If anything, I was thinking “well at least OP only harmed her own stint at that job, she didn’t push a colleague into the road and cause a road accident”.

  15. Frickityfrack*

    I work across the street from a park with a lake, so we always have whole flocks of geese for months at a time, and honestly, I love them. I know they can be aggressive, but ours are so used to people that as long as you aren’t messing with them, you can walk right by them and they don’t react. They’ve also learned to use the crosswalks when they want to move to a different area, which is so smart and cute to watch.

    That said, I feel OP. I have a moth phobia, and when we were having the mothpocalypse this year, I *wanted* to quit my job. It was a nightmare. In high school, I 100% would’ve just said, “NOPE, can’t do it, I’m out.”

    1. Nobby Nobbs*

      Same. I’ve met one aggressive goose in my life (nesting, of course) but the rest have just held up traffic and pooped everywhere, adorably.

    2. WhyAreThereSoManyBadManagers*

      OMG I also have a moth phobia, it’s something about the icky disgusting dust on their wings that goes everywhere and the fact that they seem drawn to dive bomb me whenever I’m near one. I’ve run away screaming from moths in plain view of other humans and I don’t even care. They are like little phantom ghost dust monsters. *Shudder*

    3. Goldenrod*

      Yeah, I love them too! We have a bunch of them on the campus where I work, and it’s the same as what you describe – they are used to people and will just be chill as long as you walk past them without disturbing them.

      But one time I watched a prospective student and her family try to feed them and I thought: oh no. Sure enough, the geese SWARMED over to them in a really scary way, and they had to quickly make themselves scarce!

    4. Sel*

      I also love them, even if they’re chasing me and hissing. I have a deep fondness and respect for all the animals that refuse to be driven off by human overdevelopment—especially the pigeons and rats that make our most urbanized areas their homes (and increasingly the falcons that are moving back into cities to feast upon the pigeons and rats.) Geese tend to be more suburban than the pigeons and rats but I have a similar respect for them. People have so much contempt for these creatures but I always feel awe that they make their lives in all the spaces so devoid of anything conducive to diverse and thriving ecosystems. So much human activity destroys habitat and displaces other living things. The ones that thrive despite our every effort to make the world completely inhospitable to them just fill me with delight.

      1. properlike*

        I love all birds, including geese, and have never once been bothered by them (not that I’m tempting fate.) That said, my boyfriend was once minding his own business, not even LOOKING in the direction of the geese that were 30 feet away until I noticed one was coming for him.

        I was laughing so hard I almost didn’t warn him in time.

        Sometimes certain animals don’t like certain people. What can you do?

  16. Rage*

    What’s hilarious about this is that this scenario (evil goose nesting in an empty flower pot by the front door of a retail establishment) happened in my city, at a store that my ex-BF frequented. At the time, I did wildlife rehab, so he contacted me and asked me to remove the goose “as a favor”.

    I declined, citing the same reasons above as OP: you can’t just “remove” a nesting goose, you have to apply for a permit to do so, the cost is $75, and even then they might not approve your application, and I’m not throwing away $75 of my own personal money just because my ex-boyfriend asked me to.

    He got very upset with me (any wonder why he’s an ex?), told me that I was just being petty and difficult and that I didn’t need to go through all of that (hey, who has the federal permit here?), I could just be a nice girl and go remove the goose.

    Yeah, that was a fun few weeks, until the eggs hatched and they all vanished. I have now happily blocked him in every way possible. Too bad there isn’t also a way to block the geese.

      1. Pescadero*

        They are a migratory bird – so regulation doesn’t just involve the state, or even the USA… Canada and Mexico also have to agree on all regulation changes.

        1. Rage*

          Yep, it’s the migratory bird thing and though they aren’t endangered, US Fish & Wildlife Service doesn’t want people killing them willy-nilly. You can get a permit to move or destroy a nest (or multiple nests – my org has one because we get OMGEESE in the spring and we can’t have a bunch of rabid honkers chasing our special needs clients around), but it costs money and you’d better show a hardship. A single goose nesting by the door isn’t going to trigger that, because you could easily put up a barrier of some kind. A pair of mute swans (if you think geese are bad, try a mute swan on for size!) nests at the entrance to our zoo almost every spring, and they have a whole Swan Containment Plan for blocking off visitors from the swans of doom.

        2. Cute As Cymraeg*

          It’s also about more than just the animal’s endangeredness.

          Here in the UK it is also illegal to harm or disturb seagulls, I believe – and as a Cardiff resident, I cannot stress enough how rare those things AREN’T…

          1. SarahKay*

            As an Edinburgh resident – same! Frankly I’d like to know where are the laws telling seagulls it’s illegal to disturb – or harm! – the residents ;)

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The migratory bird treaty, and the federal laws enforcing it, are separate from the Endangered Species Act.

        The treaty protects almost every species of wild bird in the Americas, with a few explicit exemptions. As Pescadero said, any changes would have to go through the federal government, and be negotiated with Canada and Mexico.

        You can move the planters they nest in, but only in the off-season. Geese aren’t nesting this time of year, so it would be a good time to move those inconveniently situated planters.

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          Speaking as a Canadian, it would not astonish me if we were to introduce a treaty amendment making the murder chicken one of those explicit exemptions. They are at “pest” level in every part of the country I’ve inhabited so far. Permits are required to hunt or remove them, yes; but I understand that they are commonly issued here, due to the damage the geese typically cause.

          Also as a Canadian, I wonder, why everything we regard as a national symbol gotta be something that’s out to get us? The beaver is way cuter than the National Cobra Chicken, but the amount of damage *they* do to infrastructure is also not zero.

          Even maple syrup is bad for you, unless you exercise restraint as to consumption. But at least it’s a delicious way to go! ;)

    1. OyHiOh*

      A hobby contact of mine ended up with multiple thousands of dollars worth of fines for “helping” a “poor injured bird” (that happened to be on state park land, was partially ambulatory, and is migratory species, among other issues). You were well within your rights to decline to remove that goose “as a favor!”

  17. Menace_to_Sobriety*

    When we were dating, back in the stone age where all we we had to fight off marauding animals were rocks and twigs, hubby and I and his roomate were having a picnic in a local park and friend got attacked by a goose who literally climbed up his bare back clawing at him. Left some deep gouges and he had to go get antibiotics etc… And I don’t think IIRC it was nesting season; it wanted his food, I think. Geese are just MEAN. We had some outside our corporate offices a few years ago that WERE nesting and attacked a female colleague and she was injured from A) the goose and B) the fall she took that broke her ankle. God I hate Geese so much.

  18. Marna Nightingale*

    I realize this is probably a lost cause at this point in the cultural narrative of Canada Geese as Murder Chickens, but is there any chance we can agree that protecting their tiny, fragile offspring, who have many natural predators and are easily harmed by careless humans before they learn to fly, doesn’t make geese evil?

    I 100% respect phobias and I understand being afraid of them, but we are VASTLY more dangerous to us then we are to them, and while I don’t recommend being pecked by an adult goose, if you protect your face a peck generally doesn’t even break skin.

      1. Goldenrod*

        This is true, geese are not mean, they are not evil, they are just protecting their young. Animals are just being animals.

        At the same time, I did laugh out loud at the comment “did a goose write this?” :D

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I agree that geese are not evil per se, but I’m not quite sure of the point you are making in your second paragraph. What just about every commentor here is saying is that you want to stay away from geese, not to protect your face and get up close to them. I also don’t see anybody recommending harming the geese.

      1. Marna Nightingale*

        I don’t see anyone recommending harming them either — aside from recommending moving nests, which is harm.

        And yes, you want to stay away from them. I stay away from them. But exaggerated stories about how dangerous an animal is are pretty directly correlated with how likely humans are to end up harming them — as has most notoriously happened with sharks.

    2. Engineer*

      I understand they’re protect their chicks. It’s still deeply unsettling to be chases by an aggressive goose that will happily attempt to bite you and will follow you for quite the distance. Both things can be true.

      1. Engineer*

        Also I do have a scar from a goose biting my ear when I was a toddler, so yes, they can break skin when they’re of a mind to do so. Which is frequently.

    3. mb*

      While I agree that humans are more dangerous to animals than they are to humans – Canada Goose attacks can result in broken bones and head trauma – which is no joke. You are severely underestimating the damage a goose can do when they are aggressive and territorial.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Geese can kill, and have done. Same with swans – a particularly vicious one made the UK news and got the nickname Mr Asbo after repeatedly attacking rowers and pedestrians. He ended up being relocated for everyone’s safety.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Oh, man, I just googled and read the history of Mr. Asbo at Cambridgeshire News: that is WILD.

          And his progeny, Asboy and Asbaby, apparently are carrying on his legacy!

      2. Pescadero*

        There is not a single known death caused by Canada Geese.
        There are only two recorded deaths ever from swans.

        Canada Geese are very aggressive – but like almost all birds, are really, really fragile. Their necks snap like twigs.

        1. Register your Geese*

          Geese have caused several plane crashes. US Air 1549 (Miracle on the Hudson) is one – no one died then, but people have died in small plane-goose collisions in Minnesota and North Dakota that I know about in recent years. Not that the geese likely survived those events, either.

          1. Goldenrod*

            “Geese have caused several plane crashes.”

            I mean, they were in the air first. They have more right to the skies than we have.

            1. Register your Geese*

              True. Not like they have radios to hear our air traffic control, either. “Canada Flock 237, go to heading 150, there’s a Cessna on approach, Over.”
              “Honk, Honk, Over”.

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I see where you’re coming from, but I’ll note that the general cultural vibe of geese are “Canada Geese are terrifying murder birds, stay the heck away from them”, not “Canada Geese are jerks so we should deliberately harm them”. The geese are, if anything, getting a good result from this because humans are MORE likely to stay away.

      Also, I have friends who have raised geese and other birds and they have confirmed that geese have an aggression level waaaaay higher than average compared to other birds, even swans. Funnily enough they also said that ducks are actually even more aggressive but the size disparity is big enough that the “flee” instinct kicks in much quicker.

      1. Smithy*

        I completely agree with this. Where calling them Cobra Chickens and the stories of terror people have about them are far more inclined to give them a wide berth than increase any kind of “petting zoo” vibe.

        There’s a park where I regularly walk, and my dark humor joke is that one day – a deer is going to take me out. This isn’t a fear that makes me want to give these deer space, I walk through this park with one headphone out so I’m less likely to be surprised or surprise them. If me or a deer get hurt, it’s going to be out of complete fear and not menace – but neither is a reality I want.

      2. Register your Geese*

        In the south, geese are replaced by mockingbirds as the aggressive birds. Lots of birds will dive-bomb cats. Mockingbirds will actually hit the cat and do damage. Mocks will also dive bomb people, hawks, eagles, squirrels, cars, dogs, each other, inanimate objects…If you see a news story about birds attacking people, 8 times out of 10 it is mockers. Relatedly, the mockingbird is the state bird of Florida. And Texas.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          We had a Cooper’s hawk draw blood on the heads of 2 of the 3 people living in our house. They’re not much bigger than a Mockingbird, fly fast and silent, and carry razorblades. We were afraid to leave the house, as she attacked from both the front and back doors.

        2. Dog momma*

          Yup, had that happen at a hotel, walking the dog. They are everywhere in SC and compete with other birds at most feeders

    5. Kyrielle*

      I don’t consider geese evil, but I do consider them scary and dangerous. I have no desire to hurt their young…or to be within 50 feet of them, because I’d rather the adults not think I have any intention to mess with them either. I totally understand why they’re territorial, but GOSH I wish they could read minds and know that I just want to get to that door over there….

      1. Goose hater*

        I do consider them to be a bit evil. I know there are getting to be fewer and fewer natural areas, but do they have to nest in such high traffic areas where they’re guaranteeing many, many negative interactions with humans? At least most animals try to find more suitable locations for their young.

        And as a personal side note, the goose who tormented me did not even have a mate, so never had kids, but still got immensely territorial in the spring. I could have at least understood a little if there were cute little goslings that he was protecting.

    6. wordswords*

      THANK YOU. Zero shade or judgment for the LW — phobias are no joke! It’s 100% fair and reasonable to not want to pass a phobia trigger at the front door of your workplace every day, even aside from the fact that these geese were protecting their nests by acting aggressively towards all “trespassing” passersby! — and I respect a goose as much as the next person. They can definitely be intimidating, and they can injure humans, yeah. But it was really dispiriting to scroll through dozens and dozens of comments about how LW’s phobia is totally rational because geese are vicious devils incarnate for the crime of, uh, protecting their nests and not being instinctively afraid of or placatory towards humans.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        Oh yes, we should think of the feelings of the poor geese who are now reading this comment section.

        Like…you do realize that almost all of these comments are from people who were attacked by geese unprovoked? And whether or not geese are following instinct, we can still be scared of them and not like them when they’re actually causing harm.

      2. Dog momma*

        To be clear, LW is afraid of ALL animals, birds etc. Therapy may help. Otherwise how does she leave the house?

    7. Katara's side braids*

      I would be surprised if most of the people making these jokes were seriously assigning morality to the geese’s instincts. Most of us know they’re not actually evil for following their protective instincts.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Yeah – generally, morality implies a level of sapience that geese don’t have. They’re just doing their bird thing. I consider them to be particularly aggressive, even for protective animals, but I’m not blaming them for being their goose selves.

    8. Hrodvitnir*

      I’m with you. People all dismissing this as not mattering are missing the point that people very much do attribute maliciousness to animal species that scare us, and even light-hearted contributions to the narrative of “evil geese” 100% feeds into people viewing them as their lives being worth less.

      Since I live in a country where Canada geese are a pest, I can very clearly see the relationship between viewing geese as “bad” and people being somewhere between more accepting of and actively gleeful about killing them (needing to killing pest absolutely does not need to mean a complete lack of empathy.)

      No, a goose is not reading this. No, OP is not a bad person for having a phobia. But yes, anti-goose discourse is harmful. I’d bet real money it’s a measurable thing, but that’s too much commitment to a comment I’m just posting to support Marna.

      1. Goldfeesh*

        It’s like everyone going “OMG, kill all insects!” Now you look around and very few people are actually concerned about the lack of insects in the wild unless they are butterflies, bees, or another “cute” species. It’s so sad to see the lack of insects from even 30 years ago and so effing depressing that no one cares and would rather they’d be dead.

      2. Boof*

        Eh, I think this is language policing a bit much – I think a lot of people are using a combination of loving hyperbole as well as acknowlegement that they really are pretty intimidating

      3. Marna Nightingale*

        I live in Ottawa where we have a LOT of geese, and I can report that too many people are genuinely completely indifferent to things like riding too fast on the river paths in gosling season.

        I actually do realize that very few people are actively malicious towards them, but I also have genuinely stood over a mangled gosling listening to some jerk on a road bike tell me that it doesn’t matter because geese are bad why am I yelling?

  19. Peanut Hamper*

    I once stopped my car to let a family of geese cross the street. They were probably 15-20 feet in front of me. (This was a residential area so I was only going about 20 mph anyway.)

    The geese got to the other side, I put my car in gear, and slowly started moving forward. One of the adult geese who had just crossed came back at me and attacked my car door. I literally could have swung my door open and brained it, it was that close.

    You don’t need to have a goose phobia to want to give them a wide berth. They are terribly aggressive creatures.

  20. AnotherOne*

    Just the premise that the store wasn’t going to do anything unless a customer complained…they never considered that maybe they were losing customers who were never going to come in on account of the attack geese?

  21. RunfromtheGeese*

    I have worked 2 places that had to issue territorial goose warnings every spring. With instructions on how to basically fight a goose (or get away from it if it comes at you). Geese are mean little f**kers.

    1. Sloanicota*

      “Fight” a goose? What advice did they offer besides “don’t do this” and “run” ??

      1. RunfromtheGeese*

        I honestly don’t remember, it was a long time ago. They offered a few suggestions of warding them off. I know you aren’t supposed to run though as it makes it worse. They were a way to basically make your self look bigger, by flailing your arms or something. Honestly I laughed at it at first (to myself of course). It seemed amusing upon first read. Then someone got attacked and I took it a little more seriously.

        1. king of the pond*

          Yes, the trick is to make yourself look bigger. The trick mentioned in the letter with the big umbrella (sort of) works because it’s doing something similar. The part where it backfired for OP is that the geese may decide, honk it, it feels like fighting something bigger, especially if their chicks are involved (all bets are off when chicks are involved). It’s a challenge and sometimes the geese decide to call your bluff.

      2. Menace_to_Sobriety*

        I would kill a predator that tried to hurt, kill, or eat MY tiny helpless offspring, before they fly from my nest, as well. But if I did that, I’m sure *I’d* be labeled murderous. Regardless, geese, even when not nesting are still unpleasant and often mean. There’s a reason they’re used sometimes as “Guard Geese”. And they don’t JUST peck. One CLAWED the hell outta our friend’s bare back. And no it wasn’t nesting at the time; he just had food it wanted.

        1. Dahlia*

          I mean, if you tried to kill someone for walking by your house without them actually doing anything to threaten your young, you’d probably get a bad reputation, too.

          1. Menace_to_Sobriety*

            Hyperbole–Exaggeration for effect. I was responding to the person saying that Geese are “only protecting their helpless offspring” and shouldn’t be labeled murderous or whatever for that.

      3. Pescadero*

        Running is the WORST thing you can do. It’s how most injuries happen.

        The best recourse is to be aggressive toward the geese. Make yourself as big as possible (extend your arm with a pointed finger to look like a goose neck + beak) and move aggressively TOWARD the geese.

  22. My cat's name rhymes with Mustard*

    I was training a new system at work a few years ago when the team had an entire conversation about the “Geese Police” that (humanely) convinced geese to get off the different properties. I didn’t believe them at first but, turns out its a real thing!!

    1. RunfromtheGeese*

      Yes, there a company around my area that does this. They use humane ways to get them to move. I believe they also use dogs too. I am unsure of the breed. My dogs are scared of geese, lol!

  23. Lacey*

    Nesting geese are terrifying. I’m sure no customers complained, because they just decided not to go to that store! What a weird and short-sighted decision they made, even if they hadn’t had an employee who was afraid.

    1. Allonge*

      Yes, for all that I like animals and generally think we should let them be – I would not have thought this to be a hard sell.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      From what I’ve been reading on thread, I’m guessing the permits and such to remove them would be so expensive and take so much time to get that the geese would have fledged their young by then anyway, and then they could move the planter? Not that the store manager appeared to have told this to the LW, or given any actual assistance, especially when they were also at the side door of the store.

  24. WantonSeedStitch*

    Ugh. I have arachnophobia, and the way I used to walk home from the subway station after work at my old apartment, there was an enclosed walkway from station to parking garage that had tons of spiders spinning their webs in warmer weather, along the sides above the lights. Then there was a bridge over a river I had to cross where there were tons of spiders making webs in the openwork side of the pedestrian walkway, over the river. I would BOOK IT through those two passages and stay as far away from the webs (with spiders clearly visible in them) as possible as I did so. If I’d had to walk through a space like that to get into my work building, it would have been pretty traumatic. Fortunately, a subway station opened up a bit later on that was much closer and had far fewer spiders along the route.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Oh noooooo. That would suck so bad. Like, I know spiders aren’t being spiders at me, but I haaaaate spiders above me. No No Noooo.

  25. Ladycrim*

    When I was a kid, my younger brother thought it was great fun to run through flocks of birds and scatter them. He learned his lesson when he tried it with geese and one of them bit him.

  26. Maxine*

    What useless management. I am guessing they didn’t count your mother as a complaining customer?

    I feel so sorry for all the disabled customers who had to find new shopping plans.

  27. LuckyClover*

    Having flashbacks to the time when my college town was plagued with vicious turkeys – there were literal 911 calls about them.

    1. nona*

      We either have C Geese or turkeys. The Geese seemed to have scared off the Turkeys for the summer, but I fully expect the turkeys to be back for fall/winter.

      You give both of them a wide berth.

    2. Beka Cooper*

      I was hoping to find another turkey comment! I was away at college when most of this happened, but a flock of 3-5 turkeys moved into my mom’s suburban neighborhood just 10 minutes outside of Minneapolis (so not rural by any means). They roosted on the power lines, and my mom had trouble getting to work at least once because they wouldn’t move out of the driveway when she was backing her car out. She tried to lure them away with bread and then toss it into the yard, but they just came after her for more bread.

      Then, they also began to hang out in the grocery store parking lot a few blocks from my mom’s house, and chase people going to and from their cars. I was also told that they made an appearance on the local news one night, chasing a police officer around the squad car after the police had been called to deal with them. (This was around 2003-2005ish, so before videos on the internet were as common so I don’t think footage exists anywhere easily findable).

      I don’t really remember how it all got resolved, but I know several years later i would occasionally see a turkey or two when driving on the parkway nearby, so maybe they just found a better wooded area eventually.

    3. Parakeet*

      A mail delivery person in my metro area got put in the hospital by a turkey last year, and children were having to walk to school in groups to deter turkey aggression. The turkeys prowl the area every year but they seem to be getting (even) more aggressive. I’ve heard their numbers are increasing (even further) here, so crowding could maybe account for it.

      1. Orchestral Musician*

        I was coming in to say this — I think we might live in the same metro area with the same turkeys (and the same injured mail deliverer)

        1. properlike*

          Okay yes, but have you heard about the California condors who decided to “party” at hilltop houses, and trashed many a balcony and the contents thereof? The theory is that, because they weren’t raised in the wild by wild condors, they weren’t taught appropriate condor social skills.

          Further proof that teenagers are teenagers no matter the species.

  28. yllis*

    In our state, business owners cant remove or tamper with the nesting geese in any way. It has to go through the DNR. There was a goose who decided to nest in a larger circular planter in front of our community theater. Attacked us as we went in the stage door. We had to wait until her goslings were hatched and out before doing anything.

    They filled the planter part with concrete because she would likely nest again there the next year.

  29. Bluz*

    Canada Geese are no joke. There’s a lot of green space where I work at a hospital and one year they nested near the parking lot. I was watching from my window that a goose decided to block cars from moving in the lot. I saw people getting out of their cars trying to shoo the bird away so they could get out. Not sure what happened but I think they had to call animal control to relocate them. Hissing geese was probably terrifying to the drivers.

  30. Red Wheel Barrow*

    This is an entertaining story, but also I have SO much sympathy for the OP here. Facing angry geese every day would be upsetting enough; facing them with an animal phobia sounds horrifying. It was brave of them not to quit on the spot.

  31. Warrior Princess Xena*

    I have so much sympathy for OP! I do have a clarifying question – were the geese next to all the store entrances? Or was there just the one entrance? From the bit where OP says they were on the roof I presume that they were attacking at all angles, both the main door and the side door.

    I’d agree with Allison – I’d have let your boss know about the bigger problem earlier. I don’t know that it would have changed the situation in the end but it might have helped.

  32. MEH Squared*

    I know I’m the nth person to say this, but geese are the worst. Once, I was at the local grocery store less than a quarter mile from my house. I accidentally locked my keys in my car and was walking home to get the spare. A group of geese were on the sidewalk, so I veered into the road to give them plenty of space. They started honking and angrily chased after me, flapping their wings and honking even more loudly as I ran away. I can’t imagine dealing with them if I had had a geese phobia. My sympathies, OP.

  33. Call Me Barbra*

    Um, when it comes to geese, it’s not a phobia, it’s common sense. I used to work for a company that had a patio outside of the executive conference room. Geese would nest there and we were not permitted, under any circumstances, to go out on that lovely patio. They were violent and mean and awful. Your manager should have taken care of that for everyone; that’s not good for anyone and is highly dangerous.

    1. JM60*

      The manager certainly should’ve tried to legally take care of the geese. But as others have pointed out, it’s illegal in many places to move/destroy the nests without a permit, and permits to move/destroy the nests aren’t always approved.

  34. BabaYaga*

    Hooooooooo boy, I too have suffered THE GEESE.

    I worked on a government campus (not a school, just a bunch of different govt departments in one physical campus location) prepping and moving archival material. This campus was right by the river, so geese were an everyday thing. Walking anywhere meant you had to watch the sidewalks for green goop and/or angry geese.

    Unfortunately, the building I worked in was the goose hotspot. It was a common occurrence for folks to be hassled by the geese. You didn’t eat lunch on one side of the building in particular because you would be beset by these birds who had not yet forgotten they were once dinosaurs.

    We had one manager who laughed at those of us who had a healthy fear of the geese. There was a lot of puffed up bravado about this man and let me tell you that bravado deflated really quickly when he had his own goose encounter. In fact, the geese took such a hate on for him, that one ran at him with its wings out and chased him into a posse of geese who were almost certainly lying in wait for sweet karmic vengeance. He was chased around by about 8 of them before he got in the building.

    After that, we would have PA announcements letting us know which building doors were safe to exit and which were closed on account of geese.

  35. iglwif*

    Honestly, OP, anyone who isn’t afraid of Canada geese (especially one that is NESTING) lacks basic common sense and self-preservation instincts.

    They are straight-up horrible assholes. They wake up every day and choose violence. They are not afraid of people, car traffic, bicycles, streetcars, or coyotes. The number of humans I personally know who have had a violent encounter with a Canada goose — initiated by the goose — is not super high, but it isn’t zero, which makes it higher than the equivalent number related to any other urban wildlife species.

    In an old job, we once had a goose nesting in the tall grass in the back courtyard, and not only did we stop mowing the grass until further notice, we also seriously discussed postponing the annual all-staff barbecue event if the goose had not moved on and out by the original date, because absolutely no one was prepared to take the risk of combining several hundred people with one goose.

    Alison’s retrospective advice about handling the situation is sound! But please don’t feel even a tiny bit bad about being afraid of those geese.

    1. birb*

      the number of people I know who have had a violent encounter with a canada goose is every single person I know who has had the misfortune of meeting a Canada Goose!

    2. Pescadero*

      “Honestly, OP, anyone who isn’t afraid of Canada geese (especially one that is NESTING) lacks basic common sense and self-preservation instincts.”

      Eh… they aren’t going to kill you. There isn’t a single recorded death due to geese.
      They are a 10lb bird whose neck you can snap with the flick of a wrist.

      1. iglwif*

        They aren’t going to kill you but they can certainly injure you if they want to, and they are aggressive enough at close quarters that I would not blame anyone for wanting to not walk past them every day to get in the door of their workplace.

        Also, I am not interested in snapping anyone’s neck on my way to work. Not even a cobra chicken.

      2. Goose hater*

        A goose almost killed me once. It knocked me off my bike into the road. I was incredibly lucky that there was a break in the traffic and I didn’t get run over before I could pick myself up and run away.

  36. So many questions...*

    I drove by MacArthur park in LA yesterday on the way to the doctor’s new digs downtown and I found that disturbing – from my car – three lanes away. There were so many geese and all I could think was nope.

    I have an irrational fear of birds. (A large pigeon was in my building last year sitting by the front door – open courtyard – and it took me a good 5 minutes to get out of the door – another time one sat on my welcome mat and I had to leave for a few hours and wait for it to move so I could go into my apartment), so I get it. I’d have quit that job in a heartbeat.

  37. Delta Delta*

    Geese can be mean. In hindsight, the thing to do would have been to tell the manager that the geese are mean and you have a phobia of geese, and as a result, this is not working.

    It looks like the answer also suggests that the store was unwilling to move the geese. They’re migratory birds, and it’s not necessarily as simple as a willingness – they’re protected under various federal laws. There are a few things you don’t mess with: the IRS, and migratory birds.

  38. birb*

    Either this is a bigger problem than I thought, or I have absolutely shopped at this store before and there were a lot of articles about it. I’m so sorry OP had to work somewhere that had a goose problem! Those guys are EXCLUSIVELY jerks.

  39. nnn*

    Since it seems they couldn’t do anything unless customers complained, I wonder if it would have been helpful to have an adult (your mother if store management doesn’t know her – or if she’s an actual customer as well) contact the store and complain.

    They wouldn’t even have to go in or be a customer. They could call or email “Hi, I just wanted to let you know I was trying to shop at your store, but couldn’t get in because of nesting geese near the door.”

  40. DuckDuckNo*

    So I followed the “bear” link where a commenter mentioned a National Park twitter account that was “a treasure” so I went there and there’s a comment in their feed that brings us full circle “Your ancestors hunted mammoths with a spear, you can walk past a goose.”

      1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

        No, it’s our very own Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. They *are* fantastic!

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I have just found it and it *is* a treasure. I too want to pet the danger kitties.

    2. SarahKay*

      I feel that perhaps mammoths were less agressive than geese? And also, since I don’t have a spear, I suspect a goose’s reach is longer than mine.

  41. Lady_Lessa*

    With all of the very appropriate caution about Canada geese, I do want to share my story. It was in a park that was being restored to the natural water and woods, and has two decent sized lakes with a path in between them. At least once, I had to pass right next to a nesting goose, with only a glare or two from the bird.

    I think that the number of bird watchers and lack of dogs (forbidden in that area) helped to keep them calm.

  42. RebPar*

    I will just add to this discussion the observation that GEESE DO NOT PLAY. I vividly remember visiting a family friend’s farm and she would greet us at the car with a long stick, and we would run like our lives depended on it into the house while she whacked the geese coming at us. Do not expect geese to engage in civilized behavior. HAVE A HEALTHY FEAR OF GEESE. That is all.

    1. Quill*

      I was once in charge of goose shoving when geese descended on my small cousin, my aunt, and I at a local zoo. The toddler had to be carried so she wouldn’t be bit, so I was deputized to shove geese out of the way with the empty stroller.

  43. Margaret Cavendish*

    What are occupational health & safety laws like in the US? In Ontario, we have legislation that specifically gives everyone the right to refuse unsafe work. One of the given reasons is “physical condition of the workplace,” which I would say includes nesting geese blocking the door! The employer is prohibited from disciplining or dismissing an employee who refuses work under OHSA.

    Obviously this doesn’t help OP now, and I’m aware that there could always be unofficial consequences regardless of what the law says. But for areas that do have this type of legislation, this would definitely be the time to use it.

    1. Ssssssssssssssssss*

      Can you picture it if they get to Stage 2, where the employer has deemed it safe anyway and the employee continues to refuse and they have to call in the Ministry of Labour to inspect the premises? And then goose attacks the MoL inspector?

  44. Eff Walsingham*

    As a Canadian, it surprised me to read that the Canada Goose is protected to such a degree in some American states, based on how things are in places I have lived. So I googled “regulations Canada geese,” and the top result is that the bag limit varies between 5 and 10 depending on the time of year.

    Under our laws, you can kill them, you can relocate them, and you can prevent their eggs from hatching, as long as you apply for a proper permit first. The permit will be granted as long as they are causing “damage” which is specifically defined and involves a lot of things that they are likely to be doing. While the species has not been officially designated as “overabundant” (there’s a procedure for that), they currently “exceed population objectives” in many areas.

    In the last city where we lived, they were looking for super intrepid volunteers to addle the eggs in local nests. I thought, “I’ll certainly raise a glass to the memory of those brave souls, but who’d be fool enough to try it??” It sounds terribly mean, I know, but according to the government website, if the eggs hatch and they successfully raise young at a particular site, They Will Never Stop Returning and you will have geese forever!

    I oppose animal cruelty, but Canada geese are hostile and unsanitary, and their population needs to be controlled in order to protect our urban environments. They really do seem to prefer to live in places where they can terrify people and destroy manicured turf, such as parks, golf courses, and cemeteries. Go away, Cobra Chickens! Why can’t you peacefully coexist with us, like lots of other species do?

    1. Jay_Ess*

      this is apocryphal, as in – I haven’t verified it, but I worked with someone studying environmental management and he said there was often cross-breeding of Canadian geese with a domestic breed that people introduced in the early 20th century to develop a breed that wouldn’t migrate so as to have a robust population for sport hunters. Now they’re flourishing too well, and their feces etc can be damaging to pond life, which puts other native species (of all sorts) at risk.

      also one time my 35 lb dog jumped into the air and ripped one out of the sky and let me tell you, that was *not* quite something I was prepared to deal with.

    2. STAT!*

      It sounds like in certain environments they may have to be controlled for their own good, that is if they exceed population limits and risk starvation. Don’t know if that is a realistic risk in Canada though.

  45. saskia*

    I have/had a phobia of several types of bugs, and let me say, it’s difficult having an irrational fear of something that can actually harm you or something that many other people strongly dislike! Your reaction in this situation may actually match a non-phobic person’s reaction (oh no, large territorial animal, run!), but the extra layer of “I have a phobia” causes excess shame and fear of people’s reactions, not to mention a possible period of obsession and prolonged fear before and after encountering the situation. So your reaction becomes more complicated and you will likely feel more stress for longer periods of time than the non-phobic person.

    While the reaction is similar, it’s not the same. I second the advice of being up-front and matter of fact about these issues in the future. But I do think you’re right to not bring them up beforehand unless you have a logical reason to believe you’ll encounter your issues. I think you did the best you could! And side note, shout-out to your mom for helping and supporting you during that time!

  46. Suz*

    At my company’s previous building, we had a small pond in the middle of the parking lot. If you parked on that side of the building, the geese would chase you. They solved it by putting fake coyotes in the parking lot.

  47. jellied brains*

    Adding my goose story…

    When I was a kid, my mom’s church held a pet blessing. Some kid was either in 4H or had wealthy, indulgent parents (not uncommon for that congregation) and brought in a goose.

    That stupid bastard bird chased me up a tree. Then I remembered geese can fly.

    Geese are the worst.

  48. Pickaduck*

    Seriously. a family of geese once absolutely forbade us all from coming into our office. it was an actual nightmare! as you pointed out Wildlife authorities told us we couldn’t do anything. We all had to sneak in through a very inconvenient side door, but they still tried to attack our cars everyday! it was madness.

  49. ADD*

    Geese can be terrifying, even without a phobia! I definitely sympathize with what you had to deal with, though I hope with enough time having passed you’re able to look back with at least a small amount of amusement at the umbrella scheme backfiring so spectacularly. It’s situations like that where we’re reminded, sometimes painfully, that birds are still dinosaurs, and some of them are determined to make sure we never forget it! Regardless, like Allison said, don’t feel bad about what happened: you did the best you could at the time.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Oh, man, I am giggling like a ninny over here. It sounds like avian Ragnarok.

      I think my favorite was the blooping koi, though. I used to keep really big goldfish and those suckers were always ready and blooping at feeding time.

    2. L*

      I . . . have . . . not. . . . laughed . . . . this . . . hard . . . . in months!

      Thank you 10,000 times!

  50. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

    Friends, how–HOW–did I get through this entire list of comments without finding a single reference to the Canada gooses episode of Letterkenny? Step your game up, AAM readership!
    I do have tremendous sympathy for LW. You shouldn’t have to be attacked on your way in the door to work for any reason, and particularly not by something you’re phobic about. That said…

    You got a problem with the majestic Canadian goose, then you have a problem with me.

    1. Lyriope*

      I was looking for the same thing.

      You got a problem with the majestic Canadian goose, then you have a problem with me.
      And you can let that marinate!

      Also, Murderbot is amazing and I love your ‘nym.

  51. SpecialSpecialist*

    We regularly have to block off the main entrance to one of our buildings every year because a nesting pair has decided it’s the best place to have babies. Luckily, there are MANY other entrances to this particular building. It’s always funny to see our campus police send out the notification to stay away from the entrance and the geese.

  52. Quill*

    Lessons not about employment for the future: Once a goose has nested and laid it’s eggs, most “goose deterrent” ideas you will encounter do not work. If you ever find yourself besieged by geese again, best case scenario is to have someone annoy them away before they actually lay eggs.

  53. Michelle Smith*

    I don’t even have a phobia of geese and would find this situation terrifying. Big hugs OP. You did the best you could at the time with the information you had. I’m so sorry you and your mom got CHASED!!! (wtf!!!)

  54. Ssssssssssssssssss*

    Thing is, I get why a nesting geese pair are aggressive. But maybe if they chose better places to nest, they wouldn’t have to be so protective.

    A nesting pair chose a small grassy area between the highway and a bus-only two-way road for their nest. And there was no body of water anywhere nearby. The gander would patrol the bus lanes to protect his mate.

    Until one day, the very large red splotch on the road indicated that his patrolling days were over. I think in the end the transit authority had to move the female and the nest as it was getting complicated for the buses.

    I do not have a phobia but I might have quit over the geese as well!

  55. SB*

    This might be my all time favourite reason for leaving a job. I am the person who will chase the angry goose back to her nest (I grew up with all sorts of animals, geese included & it fell to me to manage them when they were angry because no one else was game & I have no sense of self preservation) but I do get why you would not be able to stay under those conditions. It seems like your employer was unwilling or unable to provide a safe & inclusive work environment for you TBH.

  56. Ink*

    …kinda feel like it’s a bit of a potential dropped ball on the business’ side, tbh. Like, we had this little clothing store I frequented as a young teen, it was super cheap and they had cute stuff, you could stretch $20 of birthday money pretty far there. It’s at a weird, weird angle to the intersection, which itself is a weird, nonstandard shape. You’ve gotta gun it over a HUGE stretch of road VERY close to cross traffic, it’s very unnerving. None of us ever complained to the store- it’s so odd, and they can’t do anything about it! But you can bet that it came up every single time we talked about it… and no one shopped there in high school. It was much too stressful for us to tackle as new drivers, especially since the nature of first cars is that there were a lot that stalled either semi-regularly or rarely but in the exact center of a high-traffic intersection (no one was harmed, but she made it to school and called her mom to pick her up, and took the day).

    Now, the clothing store in my example is still there, it does well enough for itself in spite of the position (which is still weird but better since they redid the roads over there to be more efficient and safe), if it was a concern they’d rent a building somewhere else. But not even exploring a goose solution because “no one complained”? I might find that business appealing, but it’s staying, “the cute little place we never go to because it’s guarded by angry geese.” I’m not going to COMPLAIN! What are they supposed to do?? I’m just never going inside. And so are other people, probably. If you can’t do anything, it is what it is, but I feel like at least talking to the goose guy yourself to see what sort of cost you’d be looking at it logical?

    [Rant intensified by pet peeve at “customers have never complained” as an excuse to do nothing. It comes up so often with stuff that would be weird or require too much effort to feel worth it to complain, but will absolutely have people quietly deciding to take their business elsewhere. You gotta investigate whether it actually is a problem, not just rely on customer complaints to the exclusion of all else!]

  57. Root beer float*

    Oh no, this sounds so stressful and anxiety provoking! The only thing I wanted to add is that phobias are probably the most easily treated mental health issue around. Many people can overcome even severe phobias in a few sessions! So if this is still impacting your life, that could be something to look into

  58. Raida*

    I would add, based on this part:

    – could not do anything about the matter without the consent of my boss.
    – My boss, when the prior incident had occurred, had essentially said that since none of the customers had complained, there was nothing he could do other than let me in through a side door
    – so I didn’t bother telling him.
    – He was only a store manager so he didn’t have the authority to do authorize the goose removal without much higher management getting involved, and I didn’t want to burden him or cause a strain in our relationship.

    That “I don’t want to burden my boss because *I think* they couldn’t do anything anyway” is not the right call.
    My advice would be “I forwarded the information to my boss, and asked him if this is something that would need to be escalated to the Regional Manager or if his role as Store Manager would be sufficient.”
    You didn’t *know* he couldn’t do anything.
    You didn’t *know* he wouldn’t do anything.
    And you thought “well I don’t want him to feel pressured!”

    Don’t imagine emotions for other people, overthink it, decide to take on the burden alone. And certainly don’t assume what another person has and hasn’t got the authority to do. And CERTAINLY don’t decide that a person with more authority, experience, responsibilities and income than you should be protected from being informed about issues. They are being paid for it. You are not. Always tell them. Always put it in writing. And at the worst case you’ll find out that they really can’t/won’t do anything and you will *know* instead of *imagine*

  59. KarenInKansas*

    Geese on golf courses are no joke, either! And goose poo on the greens? Don’t use your best golf balls, because they will be indelibly stained.

  60. Name Anxiety*

    I absolutely get it. I was scheduled to work at a different location due to my normal workplace being in the middle of a remodel. No one there really knew me and I wanted to make a good impression so I got there early anticipating that I would need to figure out how to get in the building, etc. I parked my car, was gathering my things, and then when I looked up to open my door my car was surrounded by five GIANT turkeys. Needless to say I did not get out of my car. I waited until the turkey herd had moved on and then made a break for it. I was ten minutes late.

    1. Dog momma*

      Better than the wild hogs that chase people in the parking lot of a gov facility where I live. You can only control a wild hog population, you CANNOT eradicate it.

  61. Friendly Bureaucrat*

    I’m sorry you went through that. My last job was right next to a wetland and the geese were everywhere. I’m not particularly afraid of animals but geese are so mean and scary.

  62. StellaPDX*

    I live in the Pacific NW (close to Canada) and those geese are the National Air Force of Canada. I have seen them dive bomb people, kids, cars, animals. They have some straight up Top Gun flying moves.

  63. Katy*

    Just wanted to say that this reminds me of a verse from the great John Prine song “Fish and Whistle”:

    On my very first job I said thank you and please
    They made me scrub a parking lot down on my knees
    Then I got fired for being scared of bees
    And they only gave me fifty cents an hour

    1. Eff Walsingham*

      I hope the OP reads that. Because yes, first jobs tend to suck. When we don’t yet understand that we have rights, there are bad employers who like to take advantage of the situation.

      I worked at a “fine French restaurant” as a weekend dishwasher. It was necessary to bend un-ergonomically low to use the sink. And when you were in that position, water from the roof leak dripped onto the back of your neck, as well as into the sink. I overheard the owner bragging on the phone that the health inspector had never set foot in the back kitchen (where dishwashing occurred). Kitchen staff were also expected to watch the owner’s toddler while working. He had just learned how to open the dishwasher in mid cycle. And the pay for all this was… low. I don’t recall precisely how low – I want to say $7 an hour? But I do recall my “pay stubs” being hand-written. On paper napkins. If you put them in your pocket they’d be illegible by the end of your shift.

      Unsurprisingly, all of their employees were high school students.

      The food was actually excellent, but I don’t think they could have afforded to operate a restaurant if they had actually obeyed the relevant health and safety or payroll laws. So they just… didn’t.

      All this to say, your employer didn’t seem very concerned to make a safe environment for you (or their customers), and they didn’t deserve to keep you. They really shouldn’t have needed to be told that they should do everything possible to remove the goose hazard, and to communicate their progress/ success/ failure with staff. They could and should have made it easier for you to communicate that it was not going to be possible for you to carry on under those circumstances. It’s very common to start working life with one – or a few of – these stories. All we can do is learn and grow from there.

    2. Foxy Hedgehog*

      I clicked the comments thread to add this exact lyric.

      I guess in an interview Prine confirmed the general truth of the whole thing–he worked at a drive-in restaurant, had to clean the parking lot every morning, wouldn’t go near a wasp nest and got fired for it.

  64. Rain*

    Years ago, I worked in an office complex that was backed up to a nature area, complete with a stream and a heavily wooded area…..and turkeys. Lots of turkeys. Seeing a whole tree full of young turkeys is a trip.

    You never think, when you get a job at a law firm, that you’ll be spending far too much time (or, really, ANY time) googling “How to fend off wild turkeys.” Those things would attack people, cars, anything that moved. One co-worker was trapped in her car one morning by a giant tom sitting on the hood of her car. One season, we did have to call animal control because two toms had hatched and, once they matured, they started battling each other and anyone else who came between them and their harem. It got to the point where, when anyone went to leave the building, we had to scan the parking lot to make sure you weren’t going to be walking between the toms and the hens.

    BTW, after much searching online about how to defend yourself against the turkeys, all we came up with was a bag of rocks. If you get close enough to hit them with a stick, they can spur you in the chest. It was either rocks or run like hell.

    As for geese, we raised rabbits when I was kid and the guy we bought them from had a huge complex, all guarded by several very angry, very territorial geese. More than once, young kids would hop the fence hoping to grab a bunny, only to find themselves on the business end of a watch goose out for blood.

    1. GythaOgden*

      My late husband often talked about his cross-country runs at school. They had fields with domestic geese beside their own playing fields and hubby said the sadistic PE teachers almost used the geese as an incentive to run faster…

    2. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

      Oh man, my friend in Sacramento, CA dreads the time of year when all the young male turkeys and her two pit bulls decide to get in a Bad Ideas Competition. Every year.

      1. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

        To clarify, her two dogs are elderly, sweet, cuddly land seals. Until they are in proximity to a young male turkey.

  65. Percy Jackson*

    I went to university in an area with an absurd amount of Canadian geese, to the point that it’s kind of known for it. There is official university merch with geese (not our school mascot), including shirts that said, “I survived nesting season.” I once saw someone chased by a nesting goose for about 30 seconds, and it was truly terrifying.

    Nesting geese are no joke, and I wouldn’t want to enter that store on a regular basis, either!

  66. Garlic Microwaver*

    I feel your pain with the phobia. I have a fear of moths beyond comprehension. My therapist at the time told me I was just “getting off” on it. Real helpful. To this day, I cannot be in the same room as a moth. If it is not “dealt with,” I will leave. Only one time was there ever a moth-albeit huge- near my desk at my workplace. I had to go home sick.

  67. Juicebox Hero*

    The posts about turkeys have inspired me to do a PSA: people are charmed by a tom turkey doing the “Thanksgiving” pose (feathers fluffed, tail spread) but what it means is “I am horny and aggressive and will wreck anything that gets between me and a hen.” Avoid at all costs.

    There’s a reason why commercial turkey farms often raise only females. It’s safer for the birds and especially the humans involved.

  68. Just this one*

    We had a problem with geese at our main entrance and the Facilities Head sent out an email letting people know it was “mostly harmless flapping and hissing which could be fended off with an umbrella or a large bag.”

    This prompted one of the best reply-all’s when someone stated it “sounds like my manager.”

  69. Seen Too Much*

    I hear ya!

    I have the same kind of reaction to mice/rats. When I was just starting college, I worked at a cardboard packing box company. There was construction and we were inundated with mice. So much so, that we couldn’t open draws because they would jump out at you. I walked out one day and never returned. It’s really bad – when I was looking for a new rental last year, I would get up to a house, and if it looked like there were mice, which how would I know from the outside, I would just keep walking. This is VERY hard living in and around NYC. I have moved because I THOUGHT I heard or saw a mouse.

    1. Former Red and Khaki*

      I mean obviously you live where you have to live for work/family/life reasons, but living in NYC and surrounding with a phobia of mice/rats sounds particularly hellish! It’d be like me moving to Australia and having to put up with Huntsman spiders. No way I could handle it man. My thoughts go out to you lol.

  70. Bog Witch*

    My boss, when the prior incident had occurred, had essentially said that since none of the customers had complained, there was nothing he could do other than let me in through a side door (despite another one of my managers also being afraid of the geese!) so I didn’t bother telling him. (He was only a store manager so he didn’t have the authority to do authorize the goose removal without much higher management getting involved, and I didn’t want to burden him or cause a strain in our relationship.)

    Seems like that was the problem solved. In the future, don’t decide for people what will and won’t be a burden for them. Take the reasonable option offered and let the other person decide for themselves if it’s too much trouble or not.

  71. Sharon*

    This isn’t a phobia issue, it’s a safe workplace issue. I would have simply told the manager that I can’t safely access the workplace because of the geese and ask them to let me know when the problem is solved so I can return to work. You took on way too much by calling the wildlife people. Would you have felt responsible for calling around for advice if there was a gas leak, or if the entrance had caved in? Somebody (owner? landlord?) other than a high school kid working a part time retail job is responsible for making sure employees (including the manager) and customers have safe access to the building.

  72. L*

    Late to the party, but . . . Have you ever seen a real live cat (a juvenile still, and dumb in the way most juveniles are) literally turn around in midair? Mine did when he got the bright idea to leap at a mute swan and the swan started to attack back. Looked just like a cartoon cat.

  73. Fez Knots*

    Let me start by saying my high school job at a nursing facility with a large pond adjacent also involved dodging aggressive geese for several months out of the year, it’s NO JOKE. They also poop absolutely everywhere which is less than ideal, lol.

    Yet even though phobias are super normal, any phobia that affects our day to day life might benefit from therapeutic support. Not because there’s anything “wrong” with you, but building the skill set needed to manage a phobia can be really freeing. What if geese showed up outside your office as an adult?

    Often phobias are relatively minor, but if they’re not, you don’t have to just live with it.

  74. Laura*

    Ok, I really feel for OP, I think your fear of geese is actually pretty rational, but……..’They were unable to give any further advice’ made me laugh so hard I cried! Thank you for sharing OP, and I hope you don’t meet any (understandably terrifying) large waterfowl in the future.

  75. OMG, Bees!*

    Probably no one is going to read this, but I have a similar issue with bees and wasps due to being very allergic to stings (haven’t been stung as an adult, but had to go to the hospital as a kid).

    One funny story happened at a client office where they had a bee hive on their roof and kept windows open on hot days. Client also liked end of day emails recapping everything.

    So, I was on one of their desktops writing my email with my laptop and things put away. When, as foretold, a bee landed between me and the keyboard. I knew I had to get out but also had to send that email, which I was about ~75% done with.

    Which is why mid-sentence, mid-thought, I carefully but abrupted type “OMG Bees! I need to go!” and sent it, then got out.

    This email went to my boss, the client contact, and several managers at the client. I am a little disappointed no one brought it up afterwards.

    1. Turtles All the Way Down*

      Probably just proves they didn’t actually read every recap email every day. :)

  76. Meg Murry*

    Late to the comments section, but did you know geese control/deterrence using dogs is an actual job? In my area there is a company called “Ohio Geese Control” that send out employees with trained border collies to go walk around a grassy property. I guess if the dogs come regularly enough, it deters the geese (and gulls) from settling there. When I worked at a company that hired their services I thought it was just a smart person who figured out how to get a job where they got to go play fetch with their dog every day, but apparently it’s a real company with at least 75 employees.

    Also a real job: taking a trained falcon out on airport runways to chase away roosting birds. Source: knew someone employed to do this as his job

    1. Eff Walsingham*

      The last city I lived in had hired a falcon and handler to patrol the public transit to try and discourage the pigeons that were taking over certain stations.

  77. Turtles All the Way Down*

    I once worked at a company with a nesting geese issue. Thankfully, there were 3 entrances to the building, so the one being blocked by the geese was just off-limits temporarily. IT set up a live webcam and pointed it to the nest. After the goslings were born, the geese all left within about 36 hours!

  78. Also cute and fluffy!*

    OP, I like that you asked this question to settle your mind, and I like that Alison said “But you were a teenager, presumably without a nuanced knowledge of employment stuff, and you did the best you could at the time.”

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