Michael Cory CC
she wants to return a bra.
you tell her she can’t.
why not? she says.
you tell her it’s company policy.
why’s it company policy? she says.
you tell her, hygiene reasons.
what hygiene reasons? she says. you saying I’m dirty?
you tell her: no.
yes, you are! she says. you’re saying I’m dirty!
that, and: get me your manager!
so you get your manager
and he tells her it’s company policy not to refund underwear.
yeah, I get that! she says. but that’s no reason to insult me, is it?
is this true? the boss asks you. did you insult this customer?
she wants to believe
you’re picking on her
and the boss wants to believe
you’re a bad worker,
so just give up:
tell them both: yeah
he’s vindicated as a boss
she’s vindicated as a victim
and you get ten minutes leg rest
sat down in the manager’s office
while he gives you a disciplinary.
everyone wins, eh?
the supervisor’s day off
I’m stacking shelves
and I feel a finger prod my shoulder.
and he’s there
wearing his own clothes,
holding his kid’s hand.
roll your sleeves back down! he says.
you can’t show tattoos on the shop floor!
get a life, I tell him. it’s your day off.
fine, he says. today, I’m a customer,
and you’ve just insulted me, so I’ll be making
a customer complaint! he smiles
and off he goes
towards the manager’s office,
dragging his kid behind him …
his kid is glaring at me.
the glare, it says:
I’ll own you one day.
I’ll inherit you from my daddy.
not your own kid, but YOU.
it’s like he knows
I won’t give them a son
to push around,
like he knows
I have the decency
to not breed.
not in this world
of theirs, I don’t.
the happy co-worker
I don’t know how he does it.
every shift he’s smiling:
when the boss makes us do overtime
when we get out late, unpaid
when a customer threatens him
I’ve seen a woman take a swing at him
but he just shrugged it off.
he even whistled the other day:
it was a 12-hour shift
with queues to the back of the shop,
8 pallets of stock to get out
and only the two of us on the floor
and he was fucking whistling.
he must be plotting something big.
I only hope that I’m not in
the day he sets off his bomb
or shoots the place up
or that he is in
the day I do.
Tanner congealed in Liverpool tomorrow. He’s been earning minimum wage, and writing about it, for too long. His novel ‘Jobseeker’ is doing alright on Amazon. He was shortlisted for the Erbacce 2020 Poetry Prize. His latest collection ‘Shop Talk: Poems for Shop Workers’ is published by Penniless Press. His star sign is Libido. Hobbies include pillage, cribbage and the occasional spillage.
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