A Shift With the Chick-fil-A Cow

Juniors Silas Yang and Jahow Yu strive to promote the Chick-fil-A brand and to connect with Somerset Mall shoppers on weekends.

Liam Clancy, Editor-in-Chief

[3:00 p.m.]
“It was not like this last time,” junior Silas Yang says.
“You’re so short; I’m getting [junior] Jihoon [Song] next time,” junior Jahow Yu tells him. “If Jihoon were here, it wouldn’t be like this.”
The two have been in a remote Chick-fil-A office on the south side of Somerset Mall for 15 minutes. Yang is currently trying to put on a $1,000 cow costume, which is a size too big. In light of the holiday season, the cow’s traditional striped shirt has been replaced with a Santa coat and hat. Yu, who describes himself as “the cow handler,” is having trouble fastening the belt on Yang’s coat.
“When you look for a cow, they’re supposed to be at least 5-foot-8,” Yu says. “Silas is nowhere near 5-foot-8.”
“I’m 5-foot-4,” Yang clarifies.
“That’s why the belt doesn’t fit him,” Yu says.
[3:05 p.m.]
Now suited up, Yang is the subject of several selfies and greetings from passers-by as Yu escorts him back to the north side.
“Hey there big boy,” an elderly gentleman says.
“Yes!” a college-aged man exclaims as he reaches for a high five. “My man!”
[3:45 p.m.]
In addition to cow handling, Yu also works as a cashier and oversees social media as part of his role as the assistant to the marketing manager. After applying last December, Yu earned the position because of his marketing experience gained from participating in DECA competitions.
As they head back to work after taking their first break of the day, they pass senior Emmanuel Dannug, a fellow Chick-fil-A employee who works in the kitchen.
“Jahow gets a lot of recognition, but I think I bring the customers a lot more happiness by making them food,” Dannug says. “Which came first: the fried chicken or the cow?”
[4:15 p.m.]
As Yang circles the third floor, University of Detroit Jesuit High School freshman Garrett Kanehann and his friends are eating in the food court and leap at the chance to take a picture with him.
“I like what he represents,” Kanehann says. “The Chick-fil-A brand means power; they came in here and took over the food court.”
[4:25 p.m.]
Shortly after leaving the food court, Yang is approached by two young children who tug at his legs.
Through the small mesh opening in his cow head, Yang tries to find Yu, who is a few feet away promoting the brand to some nearby shoppers. Yang can’t answer on his own; cows can’t talk.
“Are you a boy or a girl?” the other kid asks.
Moments like these are when Yu earns his money.
“Uh, our cows aren’t boys or girls,” he replies, ushering Yang to safety.
[4:45 p.m.]
Yang and Yu sit in a long hallway tucked away behind stores–out of the sight from mall goers–and take their break after finishing a lap around the third floor and food court.
As one of his first acts as the assistant to the marketing manager, Yu was tasked with finding someone to be the cow. After his predecessor left the position for an internship with the Detroit Tigers, her cow left too. Yu promptly posted on his Snapchat story asking all his friends if they would be interested, and Yang accepted.
“I figured, ‘Why not? Let’s see how it goes,’” Yang says.
Four months later, Yang can’t say whether it’s a good job or not. Every shift depends on the kids at the mall.
“The worst thing that ever happened to me here was when these middle schoolers started asking me, ‘Can you dab? Dab for us,’” he says. “I had to do it. I can’t disappoint.”
[5:15 p.m.]
As Yang walks around the first floor, a group of students wearing Boulan Park Middle School hoodies see the cow and follow him from a distance. One comes up and repeatedly taps Yang on the back and hides as his friends take videos and giggle. Yu opens a door, and the two duck into a service hallway to take an elevator up to the next floor.
“What’s wrong, bro?” one of the students shouts from behind the door. “You got beef?”
[6:00 p.m.]
Back on the third floor, Yang is met by a long line for pictures.
“I love you,” a middle-aged woman whispers in his ear as she walks behind him.
Two college-aged men hand Yu a phone to take their photo with the cow.
“It’s the milkman!” one cheers as they both make the number seven with their fingers. “Throw up 7 Mile, milkman.”
[7:15 p.m.]
The two get on the skywalk to return to the office on the south side to put away the costume and finish their shifts. A father and his daughter walk closely behind them.
“Dairy Christmas,” the father calls out. “Get it?”
Yang and Yu put their heads down and keep walking.