Free Pumpkins for the Drunk

by G.T.

Who’s idea was it to schedule employee meetings at six o’clock on a Sunday morning? Free breakfast, so there was something in it for me. The managers talked about the obvious do’s in retail, one of the managers started dancing to Metallica’s “Welcome to the Jungle”, somebody made enemies by complaining about employees taking breaks and lunches together (always expect a tight ass), the store manager talked about giving a drunk vagrant a face-painted pumpkin for free, and bonus checks were given to every employee, but two employees weren’t entitled to checks. A former coworker of mine, Jerome, and me. Not that the checks were big; I think the average bonus for hourly workers was three to four dollars, because of low profit margins for the quarter, or whatever they call it these days. At the end of the meeting, employees were given water balloons and got to throw them at the managers. That’s what you do when you give your employees three dollar bonuses. You give them water balloons and let them throw the balloons, and watch them whizz over your head and splash all over the pavement. I stood to the side and smoked a cigarette, watching the activities. Two coworkers approached me and asked for cigarettes. I gave each of them a cigarette and walked away before anyone could ask me for a ride home.

Here’s some fuckin’ poetry.

Jared K. (309) – From those of you that read yesterday’s post, this is Jacob’s little brother, also my cousin. A good natured kid, and like Jacob, another all-American athlete. I recall days when we were much younger, playing in the creek that runs through his yard. Also like Jacob, I’ve tried to get in touch with Jared in the past, but to no avail. All this family drama between one generation need not affect our generation, but it’s inevitable to some extent, I guess. At 12:13pm.

“Armymen in
foxholes made out
of twigs and pea
gravel at the
edge of the creek.
The patter of
gunfire rang
from our clenched teeth.
Sweet disasters
of our youth.”

Like I expected, Jared didn’t respond. There’s some people from whom I can pry a response, but my maternal family has been difficult in the past, and now. It doesn’t help that his mom and my mom got into a fist fight a couple of years ago. I come from a family that speaks with their hands.

Jason S. (708) – What can I say about this kid? I recall high school nights with Jason, playing table tennis in a basement cluttered with hundreds of ping pong balls and dead spiders. Lose a ball, pick one up. We’d talk theoretical physics, the glory of the German geniuses, and the racks on some of the chicks of our Senior class, but always being classy about it. A wealth of discussions and far out tangents that always lead long into the early mornings. And whenever he returns from a vacation in the Caribbean, he comes bearing authentic Cuban cigars as a gift. He’s a skilled tennis player with a fetish for Mexican juice, and by far, one of my closest friends. If I were to ever marry, which will be never, or at least five times, Jason is a prime candidate to be my best man. Or flower girl. Love ya, kid. At 4:13pm.

“Found it at the
bottom of bottles
of Mexican soda
and genuine
havana smoke
blown upward into
the local night of
our cerebral
hijinks that take us

Jason called me upon receiving the poem and we chatted for about an hour, talking dog breeds, highlights of this text poetry project, and pretentious lesbian encounters.

Jeff (815) – This man, Jeff, was a friend of my father’s. He now lives on the West Coast, so it’s doubtful that he still has this phone number. He was a chemical engineer that saw some dark times, and lost his job. During a seasonal job at the Forest Preserve, I happened to see him at a bus stop while on my home from work. He had a two hour commute from his stay to his job selling appliances at Sears, and everyday thereafter, I’d pull over and pick him up at the bus stop to save him from time on his commute. It would always piss off the old women sitting at the bus stop with Jeff, one of whom I recall waving her fist at us as we drove away. After a few months of job hunting, Jeff found work in his field across the states, and I haven’t heard from him since. Like I said, I would expect him to have a different number these days, but it’s worth a poem. While waiting for carpet cleaner to absorb one of my puppy’s shit stains, I thought of an idea. At 7:06pm.

“Better days and
sob stories were
shared at these
corners, these
numbered routes
that are part of
the greater grid
that encompasses
it all as one.
Like we are.”

I fell asleep after the poem, and the cleanup. And it was long after midnight when I woke and saw that there was no response.