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We’re short staffed, we’re always short staffed
one person has to be able to sell a gun, write a hunting license
get a basketball hoop unburied from the back room
test a car battery, help someone figure out
which headlight the archaic manual says they need
all while ringing up a car stereo and making ten house keys
It’s on one of these days I snap
I’m digging up a basketball hoop-
a muffled page farted from the loudspeaker:
Associate to Sporting Goods, Please!
Associate to Automotive, Please!
I wrestle boxes, look at my clone
who is also buried under boxes
When finally freed, I bring out the prized hoop
drop it, a dead bird at a customer’s feet
the customer is pissed it took so long
she is the head of a line of people, all waiting
for the ministry of my attention
she is shitty, I’m snarky in return
the next customer says something about the service
I remind him of the sea of other registers
he reminds me the lines are no fucking shorter
the next customer, one headlight dim, I point to the book
say have fun, his eyes catch fire
the next charmer needs a fucking key quickly
he throws the key at me. I tell him to fuck himself
he calls me a jagoff, I throw the key back
tell him I won’t cut the key till he tells me what jagoff means
So it goes, precision and speed
cutting quickly through potential sparring partners
they storm off in a puff of witty banter
others are dismissed with a plain fuck you
What a beautiful dream after thirteen straight days of work!
Employee of the Month!
Efficient, clear headed task manager!
This is how it feels to be brilliant!
This is how it feels to be perfect!
Jason Baldinger is a poet who lives and works in Pittsburgh.
Copyright 2019 Jason Baldinger. An earlier version of this poem appeared in The Studs Terkel Blues published by NightBallet Press.
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