It’s reason enough to buy injectables

 

Have you ever done the kind of job where it seemed like the truth and reality were hot potatoes?  I have.

Where unrealistic, out-of-touch goals and workload are set by well-intentioned superiors who don’t actually work inside the store.

Coming home at 2:00 am, exhausted and dying to go to sleep after 9 hours of high volume hell, but instead just standing there in the kitchen shoveling down a bunch of super sugary candy because it all seems so pointless that you hardly care if you never sleep that night.

The next day will be the same.  Even if it’s a day off, there’s the abysmal dread of another one just around the corner.

It doesn’t have to be that way, but it is because you have no power.

And every day, the people around you remind you of that.  This is what the “customer is always right” notion has done for us.  I think it’s falling out of favor, or it will, because I doubt this generation can put up with it much longer.  But that’s an aside.

How sad and pathetic is it that a giant handful of gummy slices is the only thing that could make this experience even remotely tolerable — for a couple of minutes.  Later, the sugar high doesn’t do anything except put you in a bad mood.

Before gummy slices, chocolate, cookies, etc there was always the alcohol and other questionable substances rampant in the business.  But those things had already faded years ago now, because it was obvious they didn’t do anything.  They couldn’t take the uniform away.

They couldn’t permit you to speak up for your dignity when yelled at, condescended to, belittled, insulted, touched inappropriately, scapegoated, threatened — all the endless boundary violations.  Because the minute you put on that uniform, that is what separates you from them, and the people on the other side know it.   That is the class divide.

Anyone could get stuck in a nightmare job for too long, and others may judge them for it saying they ought to blame themselves for their fate.  But then, they may never have been there.  They do not know the reasons for it, and their judgement reveals only ignorance.  It’s fortunate for those whose lives are spared that particular brand of misery.

But if you have been there, as I was, and you’re also fortunate enough to be able to move on one day?  Even to begin to work for yourself ?? — well, others in your position who never had to take that long road won’t ever appreciate this freedom like you will.

As I saw it, my marginalized interests and talents weren’t going save me in and of themselves.  So I did what I had to do to pay bills and maintain my integrity.  I did what I could.

I remember the voice of my lover from our prestigious university, years and years ago now — just don’t be with a loser.  Whatever you do.  A loser, he said.  Loser — the word used to imply, too, what I myself could become.

Because at that time, I worked in a restaurant on the weekends.

And I was a poet.

That’s how people see things around here.

********

There is an end to the very best things.  But also an end to the worst.

After all, there is an end, after all

It’s over now, that phase.  Feeling like a worthless piece of shit is over.

Hiding is over.

We’re all losers at one time or another.  Maybe he just didn’t see that at the time.  I was 29 when I made the shift.

Around here, if you’re not winning, then you’re nothing.

I’ve been running away from men ever since, at least on the inside.  Except for one.  He has kept me near, even when I walked.  Yet he doesn’t promise me anything.

Sometimes, I think promises would be nice.  But look around us, they want us all to think, at my age I don’t deserve any promises from a man.

 

 

 

 

My Stranger

 

The earrings I wore
like tiny weapons
bounce light

Off the shine
Of mountains,
Like sunrises flash

Through the curious
Peaks of your
Clear eyes crossing

The table.  Summer glows
Off weeds outside, drills
the roots in so deep.

Our history envelopes
One glance, gone
I wince.

We share a glass house heart.
A new sap trails off peaks we’ve been.

Sofrito and crème fraîche fall
Over thick red meat
And we saw something there

Really worth drowning for, then you
Face south.  Like curtains dropping
Over a river, eyes

At the border of beef.  Each cut
Slowly sawn I watch.  Edgily
Feeling it out.  Then,

Without saying anything, you
Reached up
And took off the checkered
Cloth.