Bradford Middleton, 1/14/2019

Current Occupation:  Low-grade sales assistant for big supermarket company.


Former Occupation: Student, Music PR, writer, admin serf.


Contact Information: Bradford Middleton lives in Brighton on England's south coast.  When he isn't writing stories and poems he can often be found on the check-out at a local supermarket.  For more from him follow @beatnikbraduk on Twitter.

 

#

WORK IS KILLING ME
The times at work grow hard
As hard as the veins clogging up my heart
For which a donation tin has been placed
Next to the checkouts where it appears
Where I can always be found,
Working, taking other people's money
As I never have any of my own,
Spending money on things I shall never
Be able to afford for a company who
To put it bluntly pay me a pittance.
The worst thing at the moment though is
Beyond any shadow of doubt the thieving
Bastards who treat our shop as their own
One-stop shop always leaving with armfuls
Having never paid a penny.   They come in,
Some more than once a day, and take what
They want, leaving me feeling angry
Frustrated to my soul as I can't even afford
The stuff they steal.  My boss tells me
Don't stress it, just let them take what they want
It's not your responsibility.  This makes me
Think to myself, if it ain't mine whose it is?
Of course the answer to that tells you all you
Need to know, it's his problem, his responsibility
And from where I stand he don't care which
Makes me even angrier until something happened
Two weeks ago now I was stood on the check-out
As usual and the good shoppers were lining up
Waiting to pay when I spotted the latest in a long
Line come in, help themselves, and leave.  I
Felt my heart begin to hurt and I could do nothing
But grab my chest whilst my free hand moved in
Hoping for the best.  The next time it happened
Though it really freaked me out, especially once
I remembered the amount of men in my family who'd
Died or just, barely, survived problems with their heart.
Two days later I was signed off for a week and now
All I want is to get out, go anywhere else just to keep
The slow influx of money coming on in as I can't
Bring myself to go back, not to that place that has
Now left me almost knowing it's killing me.  No job is
Worth that, least of all one that pays barely minimum-wage
On part-time hours and clearly doesn't give two shits
About the well-being of its staff begging them to work
Their way to an early grave, so fuck them sign me off
Until I can get out, a transfer already set in motion.
 
#
FESTERING IN MY HEART
Another day back at the shit tip called work
First one back since being signed off with an extreme case
Chest pains and thoughts of heart disease
When my boss turns to me upon my arrival
Got to do your return to work, he says to me
And I know this is my chance.
An hour later he calls me down and we begin
To talk, talk, talk
All he wants me to do is get back on with my work
But I have other plans, plans to escape
Plans to fuck him over just to show him up
As the stupid damn fool who got me in this
Situation in the first place.
"Was your sickness due to work?" he asks
To which my reply is easy, "Yes," I say
"About 90%" and he gets on a speech about
Responsibility and doing it the right way
Which I guess means me leaving without
Making any enemies.
But as we round things up I suggest a radical
Plan, something I should have done at least a
Month ago.
"I just want to do my contract hours from now on"
I tell him as he turns away to scan the CCTV to
No doubt watch another shoplifter in progress.
There is no response but I know I got it out there
And then it was time to go back to work, back to
The check-outs, cursing my god damn luck at being
Here now.
The next time I go in a new weekly schedule has gone
Up and as I flick through the pages I finally come to mine
And I can't believe my eyes.  After all I'd said
He's scheduled me for 33 hours, twice what I'm due
Believing this is a ploy to get me to lose my shit or
Simple confirmation he's the worst boss I've ever known.
So I get on the check-out again and begin writing furiously
Line after line, page after page, telling our new boss
Who I still think don't know my name, about my plan and
How his underling has fucked me up with too many hours
And how from this moment on I'm doing only my contract
Hours, bringing the moment of truth into sharp focus.
8pm Wednesday and that's it, I'm done and I'll leave and head
Straight to my dealers to sooth the rage that festers in my heart.
 
 
#
ANOTHER DAY AT WORK
Just a short walk down the road and life
Has changed, changed so much for the better
As the work comes easily and a nine-hour
Shift, just like today, passes in the blink of
An eye…
The customers, my colleagues are all so
Friendly, how will I ever write a poem
About struggling through a meagre four-
Hour shift just like I used to do, I don't
Know and in all honesty I don't care
Cos life right now couldn't really be better
I just wish I had more time to
Drink, write, smoke and go mad at the
Thought that tomorrow I got more work
Driving me ever closer to death's door.

Adina Ferguson, 1/7/2019

Current Occupation: writer w/ a day job in higher ed administration
Former Occupation: same as above
Contact Information: Adina Ferguson is a proud DC native, and the author of the essay collection, I Don’t Want to be Your Bridesmaid. Her work has been published in Nia Magazine, Soar, The Avenue, The Underemployed Life and more. You can find her at www.adinathewriter.com, on IG @adinathewriter, or on the couch watching Martin reruns.

#

How to Use a Vacuum Cleaner in a Fishbowl

Step1: Spot black bug on cream-colored wall next to your desk.

Step 2: Stare at it until co-worker carefully examines and determines, “Umm, that’s a roach.”

Step 3: Grab newspaper from recycle bin and smush bug to death.

Step 4: Watch it slide down the wall in slow motion.

Step 5: Jump back.

Step 6: Guide roach down onto ugly brown patterned carpet with the newspaper.

Step 7: Lose sight of it and stare at the carpet like it’s an ink blot.

Step 8: Lose hope.

Step 9: Watch as same co-worker immediately finds bug and points.

Step 10: Ask, “Where? I don’t see it.”

Step 11: Watch him point harder.

Step 12: Lose more hope.

Step 13: Bend down and locate the enemy.

Step 14: Attempt to scoop it into the newspaper.

Step 15: Fail.

Step 16: Hear office door open and feel a force stare at you.

Step 17: Have an out-of-body encounter and watch things unfold.

Step 18: Listen to the force as it speaks. “So, you’re just going to leave it on the floor?”

Step 19: Respond with a matter-of-factly, Yes”.

Step 20: Feel guilty, feel stupid, feel like this isn’t your damn house.

Step 21: Obey the force’s command and get dusty vacuum cleaner from the closet.

Step 22: Search for power button for what feels like forever.

Step 23: Watch as snooty force finds button that was right in your face.

Step 24: Roll your eyes as force asks, “What did you get your degree in?”

Step 25: Proudly remind the room, “English”.

Step 26: Suck roach into vacuum, return it to closet, wash and dry hands.

Step 27: Sit ass back down and ask for a raise (in your head).

 

#

 An Unfortunate Tuesday in the Registrar’s Office   

“I’m Being charged for something and I want to know why.”

“Have you been in touch with the Bursar’s Office?”

“Yes, and they transferred me to you.”

“How much is it for?”

“$65.”

“What’s your ID number?”

Student recites number.

“It’s for an application fee.”

“Why am I being charged if I’m not taking classes?!”

“That doesn’t matter. Anyone who submits an application is charged the fee.”

“But I’m not enrolled.”

Internal sigh.

“They have to review your application. That’s the first step. I can transfer you to Admissions if you like. They assess the app fee.

“Yes, please.”