Vox Populi

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Jason Baldinger: Employee of the Month

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.

Customer checkout on Black Friday

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