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the shop worker shops

I’m in a shop

that doesn’t employ me

perusing the condiments aisle

and I see one bottle of tomato sauce

is slightly out of line

with all the others

and my training kicks in:

I go over to the shelf

and I twist it around

so that the label is front facing

like all the others,

when this old lady comes up to me

and she says, do you work here?

and I’m about to tell her to fuck off

when she asks: where’d you keep your fridge chicken?

not frozen, she wags a finger, no.

the FRIDGE chicken?

and I’m about to tell her to fuck off again

but then that initiative kicks in,

that very particular initiative

of someone who has spent

their entire adult life on minimum wage:

third aisle, I hear myself say, because

fridge meats are always in the third aisle.

oh, thank you so much, she says. and thank you

for being open during these dangerous times,

she adds. it’s really appreciated.

then off she goes, towards aisle 3 …


nicest customer I’ve ever had

and I wasn’t even at work.

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