Thursday, September 12, 2019


it wasn’t loaded

it’s not that $4.65 an hour
was a lot of money
it’s that $5.50 was more
add in benefits, even more
those were the choices then
they haven’t changed much
although with this disparity
they’ve become far more dire

I was failing out of community college
storms of depressions already manifest
I started working two jobs
finals week, I had already surrendered

I started in lawn and garden
days dehydrated in summer sun
green shirts sweat soaked
as we loaded bags of fertilizer
grass seed, plant food
into lines of cars
the suburban lawns would be healthy
this year, even if what was inside
those houses would come to rot

after peak season
I should have been laid off
like the other help
but I was better
I was so good at loading
bags of shit that I would be permanent

wal-mart brought me inside
air conditioning and halogen lights
a house cat now relegated
to sporting goods
never mind I knew nothing  
much worth knowing about sport

I hadn’t been fishing in years
I’d only been hunting once
I was six, my uncle and father
sent me after a rabbit with a twenty-two
rifle, I confirmed my kill
when they tried me teach me to clean it
I nicked the lower intestines
rabbit shit spilled everywhere

I learned quickly
to memorize people’s hunting
and fishing stories, it may be
artificial, that’s what salesmen do
a little encouragement, a little message
something passing quietly
to remind the customer
that what they need
is something they actually want

all the same, I was never comfortable
around the guns, we sold rifles
we sold shotguns. I was amazed
how little awareness people
have with a weapon in their hand
I mean not that I had any training
but I understood clearly never
 point a weapon at a human
even if it wasn’t loaded

I may have known it
it didn’t matter
I don’t know how often
I was distracted
by the attention
that a modern retail environment demands
only to turn my head back to a customer
find myself looking down
the barrel of a gun
when I yelled at the customer
I was told I was an asshole
it wasn’t a big deal
it wasn’t loaded

--Jason Baldinger 

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