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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Plan, something I should have done at least a
"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.
And then it was time to go back to work, back to
The check-outs, cursing my god damn luck at being
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.
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
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
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
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.