Adam Matcho, 8/7/2011

Current Occupation: Obituary Writer
Former Occupation(s): Technical Writer for an invention company and many years working at Spencer’s Gifts and at a gas station
Contact Information: Adam Matcho is an obituary writer who works and lives just outside of Pittsburgh, Pa. After writing about death all day, he tries to make poems and stories about life. Some of these poems and stories have appeared in Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy and Pearl, among other magazines and websites. He is also a regular contributor to The New Yinzer ( where his work-related column, “Counter Culture,” relives the horrors and joys of his time in the retail and food service industries.


Training for the Overnight Shift (Ron’s monologue)

Make sure the coffee is fresh.
That’s the most important thing.
you will get bawled out
and spit at by some of these people
if you don’t keep the coffee on.

And when nobody’s in the store
(and trust me, kid, there will be times
when it’s just you and talk radio
and sometimes it gets so lonely
you want to burn yourself just for something to do)

clean the cooler doors, wipe them down,
with a warm, wet rag. And keep
the sneeze guard free of fingerprints.
Give the floor a once-over with the mop
after sun-up. And don’t forget cops eat free.

If you want to look at the girlie books,
slit the plastic bag along the bottom
so you can slide it back in when you’re done.
And don’t go pulling your pud when you see
those naked girls, kid. Show some moderation.

Just listen to me. Do what I say
and you’ll be okay. You can smoke
in the backroom, but flick the butts
outside. Try and hit Chuck who sleeps
between the dumpster and the ice machine.

He may wake up and curse,
but don’t worry, he’s harmless.
You seem smart enough, kid.
Now do me a favor
and go pull that book
from the shelf, the one
with the black chick
in the cheerleader outfit.

And while you’re at it, put on another pot
of strong coffee. Only two hours ‘til sunup.


Meeting with Loss Prevention

“What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done
at work, Adam?” I say, “I don’t know.”
“I do drink one 32 oz. Mountain Dew
from the soda fountain at the beginning of every shift.”

He says, “You know we have cameras, right?”
I shake my head. I know
I would have been fired
long ago, if this were true.

I’d taken snack cakes and beef jerky
and rolling papers and cigarettes
and magazines and road maps
and money right from the register.

I gave free food to friends
and fresh cookies to strangers.
I played scratch-and-win lottery tickets
for several hours until I broke even.

I say, “That’s really all I can think of.”
Loss Prevention scribbles red
in a notebook, rolls his cobalt sleeves
to the knobs of his bone and ash elbows.

He says, “You know I have this thing,
right? This intuition. Some people have
perfect vision. But not me. I wear these
glasses for a reason: 40/60 eyesight.

Instead, I have the knack for knowing
when people are bullshitting me. A gift
of compensation. Poor vision, but flawless
interpersonal perception. Understand?”

I recall punching in this morning, the hour
was 6 and I was making 6 an hour and making
myself a sausage and egg bagel, a cup of coffee
and dozing for five minutes on the countertop.

I say, “Once when I was hungry, I created
a new sandwich. I called it a stromboli sub.
It was glorious. I’ve been selling it on the side,
and ringing it under a club on the register.”

“Jesus, kid,” Loss Prevention says.
“Who gives a shit? Just let me do my job here.
Have you or anybody else ever stolen anything
from the store while you were employed here?”

“No,” I say. “Why would I do that?”
He says, “Just so you know, we know
everything. I’m just giving you the chance
to come clean now. Clear your conscience.”

I shrug and say I’m sorry, but the stromboli sub
is the only thing I can confess. Loss Prevention says
he knows I’m telling him straight because he knows
how to read people and I am a good sort. Although,

he’d watch it, creating my own sandwiches.
It disrupts the store inventory: internal shrinkage.
Besides, I don’t get paid to sit around and think
of stupid shit like putting stromboli on bread.

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