Saturday, December 1, 2012

Poetics: Missing You (like a Christmas card from my Proctologist)

Roanoke, VA

over under around & through, pinch as you pull
makes a W dimple, in the tie---this
is the J Riggings way---to make money
at the holidays

& the sharper your look the more likely you'll make
the sales quota (commission)--- pressed slacks, a coat,
comb over---SMILE, like you mean it. 'i got this

yesterday & once i was home found this stain'
'smells like cigarettes,' 'well i took it
right home.'

'ah,'

'your circular said...’’what do you mean
you don’t have my size.’’I have a coupon.’ ‘We don’t
do coupons.’ ‘I know I have one.’’You realize
your darling is swinging on a $300 jacket.’
‘What did I tell you. You better sit down
or I’ll…,’ always the look back to check
whose watching ‘But mom. You said
we’d go see Santa. I want---‘

Fold, fold, refold, fix the display, fold---kid
refold, fold, fix

‘Sorry, no. I won’t watch your kids as you go
into the dressing room with your husband,’
a crush of furious bodies the minute i stretch
tape down a man's inseam, pencil
mark & pin in place the cuff

'you aren't busy are you?'
'you don't expect me to pay for that
do you?'’Your card was declined.’ ‘Can you
run it again.’

no, No, nO

'now where's your Christmas cheer,
it's Ho, Ho, HO!' with a twist of cheeks
to make them rosey---and ‘Shut up so I can
give this to the man. Here, this is for you’

a JESUS tract, cause I really want what you got,
I smile. I cry. I pound
cash register keys in rhythm
to canned Christmas sound.

♪ Joy to the world, ♪
♪ I miss you. ♪

Over at dVerse Poets today, Stu has us writing about 'Missing you'. Years agoI thought working retail one holiday might be a great way to make a little extra money. Well....smiles. Easy to step tight back there for a moment especially in the insanity that has become this season. So, what do you miss? See you at 3 pm.

91 comments:

Mary said...

One

Mary said...

Ya, retail at the holidays is something special. Ha ha. I think you gave a good idea of what it was/is like. I did my time in retail for a while too. That fold/refold until one was blue in the face. They were good days though. As you have expressed. Despite the insanity of the holiday season.

Grace said...

The hustle and bustle of shopping and returning stuff gets me during this time ~ The last stanza is a good twist to the Christmas spirit and cheer ~ Sadly its been missing for years ~

Good day Brian ~

Pat Hatt said...

haha quite the title
With a hand up there you better remain idle
And yeah the spirit is long gone in many ways
For it's all about the sale sale sale days

Claudia said...

smiles..you capture the holiday shopping craziness well..used to work in retail as well for a while when i was still at school to make some extra money..it needs a bit of a zen attitude to survive it (or lots of chocolate-- or both) ha...smiles

RMP said...

yikes! I can only begin to imagine the craziness of people at normal times, but during the holiday season.... you would think more retail store employees would go postal. although maybe they do, but it's kept under the radar because it would be a PR nightmare–plus it's the holiday ( and who doesn't go crazy then).

stu mcp (hate&hope) said...

'Joy to the world- I miss you'....this time of year the 'real' world certainly does seem like a million miles away!... I really enjoy how this poem captures the blinkerdness of the shoppers, desperate to use their coupons, frantically rooting through clothes, andy then contrasted with the flatness of the shop worker (you!!) ...the frustration of it all....as ever, your poetry has that amazing narrative, that photograph capture of a time and place....and it's awesome. Great take on the prompt with your anti missing you poem!

DJan said...

You captured my feelings of the craziness of the shopping season all right. Oh my, Brian, I am now in no desire at all to go out there... what a way to make a living. :-)

Susan said...

O do I remember!? I was not good at this. Failed at waitressing too. What don't I have? Patience. I look in my stockings for it every year. I will admit I had it more often when a smoker. An extra job? Cat sitting.

Daniel said...

I think you captured the anxiety and frustration and frayed nerves pretty well my friend.

kaykuala said...

A sales 'temp' can do just that much. Quite a challenge and a bother to cater to the antics of holiday shoppers. Done a short stint long time ago! Nicely Brian!

Hank

Annmarie Pipa said...

..the lines this week were crazy and the people were grumbling at the poor cashiers like it was their fault they were understaffed...I have been there too. the best we can do is be kind be kind be kind.

hedgewitch said...

Hell hath no fury(and no more unglamourous debunking of that cheery holiday glow) like a retail christmas. You pack it all in here, brian--the conversational clutter of many voices all howling both individually and as a pack, is very effective. Good stuff.

Jeannine Breton said...

I used to work as a sales clerk years ago....liked what my job.....the problem now is people are there to put their time in...not cause they like the job, but need that paycheck! So now patience is gone, the personal service you once had is not there,forget being polite, repectfull, and EVERYONE is in a hurry!Good write, Brian....

Natasha Head said...

This time of year I end up with two kids...just that one happens to be rounding the bend to 40! The hustle and bustle, the money, you may or may not have, the I want! I Want! I want...give me a fire, a Christmas tree and lots of spiked eggnog please...that'll do me. I could go on forever...but the ankle-biters are waiting for me to hit the mall....NOOOOOOOOOOO! ;)

Valerie said...

Heehee I'm exhausted! Gone are the days of leisurely and affordable Christmas shopping.

A lot of our stores are training staff to be pleasant to customers ... it used to be a natural way to be. Still it's nice to see them smile when underneath you know they're seething.

Grandmother said...

My Dad worked in a men's store in Boston every Christmas season fro extra money and his stories sound similar to yours! You put me right there. Hope this season is more peaceful for you.

Helen said...

Hear you loud and clear ... one Christmas I worked 'fine jewelry' at JC Pennys ... the highlight of my stint? A gentleman told me I looked like an angel .. his view as he descended from the escalator ... it might have been JCP, but they had great lighting! Ho Ho Ho.

manicddaily said...

Ha! I worked many many many years ago at a department store. Many years ago. I had an odd job so not quite as harried as you. Agh. You describe that chaos and endless wanting so well. Something definitely missing in all of that stomping consumerism. k.

sreeja harikrishnan said...

it is a delightful read...enjoyed...smiles..

farawayinthesunshine said...

Lovely Husband works in a big electronic store and Christmas season is always a crazy time for him.

You captured the insanity really well, Brian...

It's Saturday enjoy :-)

Brian Miller said...

i seriously thought the cashier at kmart the other day was going to get killed all the people yelling at him...

She Writes said...

I like what you did with this. The weird conversations that don't align with the "spirit" and the cards that should not be run and the coupons and on and on. I miss people at this time of year. I learn to move on. But it is always people I miss.

Gail said...

Even this bad experience sounds good.

Myrna R. said...

I've never worked in retail. Thank God. It sounds a lot harder than I thought. You capture the insanity of the season well. It made me a little nervous. Hope we all take some time to just relax.

AJ Walker said...

You gave a very good sense of what it's like even for someone who's only been on the other side of the register. If there is ever an anthology about Christmas shopping, this should be the crown of the collection. Very well done.

ladyfi said...

Working retails sounds like a nightmare. Your title made me a laugh!

Gloria said...

Yes I know is terrible, always I fight for Christmas to be OK in the important, anyway is not difficult this years I dont have so much money, smiles like you say!:)
But I love baking some things to Christmas!

Laurie Kolp said...

Ugh... I worked retail in high school and college and can SOOO relate to this. I do not miss it at all (boy do I have some stories to tell).

This made me smile-

'now where's your Christmas cheer,
it's Ho, Ho, HO!' with a twist of cheeks
to make them rosey

Daydreamertoo said...

Hmmm.... I hate shopping at the best of times, get claustrophobic in crowds and check out lines..working in a store would just abut throw me for a loop. LOL
You described the chaos of it all so well here. Yuck!

sage said...

You captured a lot of the horror of working retail! Good work.

Heaven said...

Can you please link me up to D'verse Mr. Linky ? Thank you ~

Susan Daniels said...

Wow--way to "celebrate" the holidays, Brian. Bet you will never do that again! Loved this.

John (@bookdreamer) said...

I worked in Woolworth in the canteen when I was 16 for a Saturday job - all can say is look very carefully at any meat in gravy to make sure its the full serving...

Rene Foran said...

God, man
I miss it too
and I really felt this one in my spleen :)

siggiofmaine said...

Let me show my age...as a teenager back in the late fifties and early sixties I worked in a dime store.

The register didn't figure the change for you and you had to count it back to the customer properly. Of course, The Customer Was Always Right.☺
Kids especially would have a lot of little things, and then pay with the saved up change from their banks...mostly pennies. The biggest stress was hoping your register came out correctly at the end of the day.

Never thought about how good I had it...no coupons, no credit cards, most of the customers were polite ...one "dressed up" to go shopping back in the day.

I think you captured today's retail... I don't think I'd enjoy it. Your poem is perfection. Thank you.

Aravind R Sankar said...

Your experience, your emotions. Wonderfully portrayed! But sadly, the past remains there.

anotherwanderingsoul said...

haha, what a title.
fast paced, stressful... wonderful poem. you captured working retail quite well! glad i don't have to do it...

cloudfactor5 said...

I'm too busy laughing at your title to say much more!

Aidz Giannini said...

An excellent write as always, love the memories even bought some back for me

Mama Zen said...

Well, you've definitely talked me out of it! Love that title!

kkkkaty said...

...it takes extra patience to work retail especially at Christmas..you take me back as well; in the end it was the best in people I remember most, fortunately, but oh, there were some unhappy people..nice going..

hollyannegetspoetic said...

Oh this made me laugh! I feel that pain - was just saying the other day to someone how I sympathise with people working in retail at Christmas. It must be maddening!

Jenny Herner said...

This is wonderful. Love the weave of conversation and thought with the thread of frustration!

Anonymous said...

You did it...sounds like my four hours at a burger joint. Thank Jesus the plant called me to do assembly work for 6 weeks of great pay. Thanks Brian. Way cool. Gardenlilie.com

Anonymous said...

Yes, these are the days of the stressful and crazy shopping season. I sense your "not missing" these days of retail. haha! Missing the peaceful simpler days when shopping didn't take over the true meaning.

Poetry and Icecream said...

This is great Brian. You held my interest all the way through and I felt so sorry for all the retailers of the world, especially at Christmas time. Very well expressed!

Mystic_Mom said...

Brian you, my friend, have knocked it out of the park - AGAIN! Love this.

Kelvin S.M. said...

...the sharper your look the more likely you'll make the sales quota... Haha... so true to fact... right now we're not yet in a rush for holiday shopping... we're still waiting for a higher discounts as the season's close approaching, i guess... Hihi...

Good day!

awakenedwords said...

hmm, yes, have thought of going that route myself a few times, you have confirmed that I made the right choice in deciding against it.

Lázaro Rojas said...

I absolutely love this piece. I was hooked from the beginning -- the visuals, the dialogue, the pace, the season, were all there. I was there.

Tatius T. Darksong said...

lol...this was to funny, good piece

Rebecca S. said...

Yes, I think most of us have a story of working in customer service during peak times. Ugh. My son and I saw a Saturday Night Live sketch called,'Two A-holes buying a Christmas Tree'. Too painfully apropos! You can find it on NBC.com.

I still have lots of Christmas Spirit...it just takes a bit longer to get there as I get older. Sigh.

Lisa said...

no, No, nO, scary.

Happy weekend Brian! :)

Raven said...

People are something aren't they? And we are the people. Aren't we? ;)

Semaphore said...

Stepped out to do a bit of seasonal shopping this afternoon, and watching storekeepers and their assistants at their work, all that just underlined so much that was your poem talked about. An interesting twist and social commentary all at the same time.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Cool bit of poetry..you had me at the title :) though retail isn't my fav thing ...either behind or in front of the register :)

The Empress said...

It's so sad that this is what Christmas has become.

IT IS SO SAD that children are thinking this is Christmas. Why I love THanksgiving: simple, family, full bellies, for the lucky ones among us.

Those poor retail workers. It would make me so soulfully sick to see this.

pandamoniumcat said...

Oh yes, working retail in a departments store... it is sheer hell at Christmas, you capture it well!!!

Hilary said...

And I was just finally gearing up to go Christmas shopping.. now I'm putting it off. ;)

rallentanda said...

Yes,t'is the season of cheer and good will to all men (smirks)

Polly said...

Great capture of Christmas madness, Brian :)

ordinarylifelessordinary said...

A fascinating insight Brian, loved the retro feel of this and the punctuated lines that added that hint of monotony and routine that daily work life brings at a time of year when you'd rather be somewhere else.

SueAnn Lommler said...

Oh boy...it is like that!
Loved this...my dad was in sales...always they were pushing...it ended up killing him. Still sad.
Hugs
SueAnn

JANU said...

You have captured the madness of shopping during the festive-holiday season so beautifully.

Lorraine said...

I miss the Love and Joy of the season, I don't shop anymore,unless I don't have anything at all lol

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

You captured that sort of job oh so well. Really well done!

J Cosmo Newbery said...

'Joy to the world' indeed.

Dave King said...

a JESUS tract, cause I really want what you got,
I smile. I cry. I pound
cash register keys in rhythm
to canned Christmas sound.


Yeah, I know, it gets you that way! this is all so authentic. Good to start the day with a smile. Thanks for achieving that!

Katherine said...

Christmastime commercial craziness captured so well in this Brian.... it's sad that this is what some people think Christmas is about!! I remember this when I worked in retail for a Jewellers store when I was much much younger!!

Pauline said...

the last line sums the whole thing up so nicely. I miss joy too!

Zuzana said...

The Irishman I once knew;) worked for many years in retail, selling mens clothing.;) He said Christmas was the worst and he hated working during the holidays.;))
For the first time in a very, very long time I do not miss a thing.;)
Hope you have been well dear friend, happy Sunday and the first of Advent to you.;)
xoxo

Chic-Cherrie said...

This remind me of my days as a retail sales consultant, where the festive season meant painful detachment from family and friends a they hopped and skipped all over while I rose to a day of seeing to everyone's dress. I couldn't bear it any longer, I miss it not

Wolfsrosebud said...

somethings one needs to try less to have more... unfortunately you've captured the usually momentum of the holiday season... hope they read the tract despite the attitude it was given... I wonder what the shepherds thought that crazy night

annell said...

I avoid retail at the holidays...good to just stay home.

Alice Audrey said...

I've never worked retail during the holidays. Now I'm glad.

Susie Clevenger said...

I worked retail at Christmas, sucked the joy right out of the season. I am very patient with sales people...i have felt their pain.

Bodhirose said...

Forget the holiday craziness...it's the every day craziness! It takes a lot of patience to deal with the public...as you so well found out. Love your title, Brian.

ayala said...

Retail this time of year is brutal ...good write, Brian. Happy Sunday :)

Marbles in My Pocket said...

I couldn't do it. Even as mellow as I am these days, somebody would get hurt. Nice write, Brian. You capture the season quite well.

mywordwall said...

I commiserate with the hapless overworked sales associates during the busy seasons.

Tracie Skarbo said...

oh Brian! I am so glad you lived to tell your tale! I think those who work retail through out the holidays must be hero's! Seriously! I did it for countless years before and I am so glad I dont' have to do it now... the only thing worse then the selling time before Christmas is the RETURNS period afterward! I did that too ... the customer service desk was BRUTAL at that time of year. So many tired, upset and frustrated people. I really wish more people would stand back and see what all that consumerism really costs.

Fred Rutherford said...

yeah I did the christmas help thing a couple times in two totally diverse retail stores and each was crazy, really border-lining on the insane. Terrific job getting that external/internal feel here. Strong write. Thanks

vbreverb said...

Which is worse--holiday mayhem or the daily doldrums of eight hours with few customers?

Kim Nelson said...

Have each and every one of us worked retail at some time in our lives? LOL! I feel as you do, Brian!

Rachel Hoyt said...

I have worked retail, but not at any place that would experience a Christmas rush. You have painted the eperience well. :)

Lady In Read said...

you have captured the madness of the shopping season..:) am glad for the joys of online shopping...

FrankandMary said...

Great title & spooky real account. I can remember my teenage retail experience all the better reading this..& I am not thanking you for that...;0.~Mary

Lyn said...

Takes me back to spritzing perfume at Macy's 34th Street, day after Thanksgiving till Christmas eve. We sort of paid our dues, ya think? You've brought a lot of ex-retailers together!

Brandee Shafer said...

Sales is painful no matter the time of year...

Syd said...

No way I would want to deal with the commercial side of things. It just wouldn't do for me. It doesn't seem like it fit you well either.