Thursday, November 1, 2007

Back When It Was 6 to 2, Not 9 to 5

The theme for this week's Totally Optional Prompts was work. When I was in graduate school, I worked 20-40 hours a week at a local Pier 1 Imports, until it closed and I got my teaching job.

One of my favorite/least favorite jobs was unloading the 6:00 stock truck on Wednesdays. In the summer, it was awesome. It was warm in the morning, I got to be outside, and the stock tended to be smaller discount items. In the winter, it could be awful. There was slushy gray black snow, freezing cold, heavy boxes of furniture (better sellers in winter) and the myriad boxes of Christmas ornaments that were always broken.

This morning, on my way to breakfast, I saw a freight truck pull into the alley where my store used to be, and the dawn was breaking blue and orange across the empty street and I wrote this.

Walking to Work, 5:42 AM

Streetlights dot the sidewalk,
pierce the dark sky like stars.

Salt, gravel and ice slide
me forward, unsteadily. I know

what is coming next:
eight feet, ten feet, twenty

of packed semi, buttressed
by sheets of plywood. I will hop

left-right-left-right, blowing
warm breath into my freezing

fingers, taste rubber work gloves
on my lips. I will not talk

too early, will not wear a back brace
over shirt, under coat, will not

breathe black exhaust fumes, will not
ask for help hoisting the oak armoire

on the lone two wheeler, while
guiding it safely inside. The only

conversation will be two unfunny
morning DJs cackling on the radio

and my internal counting of cardboard
boxes, minutes on my time sheet,

minutes until the sky burns blue
and I crawl tired, home.


Rambler said...

ooh walk to work,lovely, that to when its dark awesome
what would I give to do that and forget the 1 hour traffic jams I need to sit through

Jo said...

This does a great job of evoking it all. There are some lovely images too.

Crafty Green Poet said...

very evocative and full ofgood details. I like walking to work but prefer it not to be icy or quite so early in the morning!

gautami tripathy said...

Great descriptions. I could see the boxes waiting to be unloaded.

tumblewords said...

Ah, great. So descriptive. Your words are wonderful and the flow of this piece is easy, conversational and strong.

paisley said...

descriptive words tainted well with real life... a fine tribute to real mans work,, as opposed to the pencil pushing scribblers that are all the rage today....

Alan Bender said...

It must be cold when there are no animals to feed. Boxes are just cold blooded gravity that mimic sweating feet. Nice job of kicking loose the futility of young ego with raw imagery.

Linda said...

I could taste those rubber gloves, too! Excellent descriptions! ~Linda

Dennis said...

I really like the balance you captured between distance space and time. These three ideas are ever-present throughout. There's a little love hate thing going on here too!!

Catherine said...

This is really evoactive, the details are superb. I just didn't quite understand the "will not" parts as it seemed like those are things that you might have done - and if you didn't, did someone else do these things?

Jessica said...

I am so behind on comment response. :)

rambler -- i do miss having a 5 block walk to work, even if I did make $8/an hour.

Jo -- thanks for yr compliments. :)

crafty green -- even though it was a 5 block walk to work, in winter it was the longest five blocks ever. I do live in Minnesota, land of 60 below zero temperatures.

gautami -- thanks! as you can tell, the boxes still haunt me. :)

tumblewords -- thanks!

paisley -- there's something to be said for pushing pencils. you don't need a back brace, normally, and you don't get cardboard cuts on your hands. :) I still miss it though, like a masochist.

alan -- thanks for your comment, a poem in itself.

linda -- thanks for stopping by.

dennis -- i'm glad you picked up on the love-hate thing. Although, I may have it with all jobs.

catherine -- thanks for your insightful questions. The "will not" lines were meant to convey the things I probably will do, but don't want to do. Like wear the uncomfortable back brace or breathe in semi truck exhaust.

Thanks for everyone for stopping by!

Dale said...

Terrific! I love this. Thank you.