Kevin Murphy, 4/28/2014

Current Occupation: Call Center Sales Representative
Former Occupatoin: Server, Baumhower's Wings of Tuscaloosa  
Contact Information: Kevin Murphy's work has previously appeared in Heron Tree, Gravel and Foliate Oak. He received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Idaho. He stopped working as a server back in the summer of 2010, but continues to get the occassional "serving nightmare" (if you've ever served tables, you know the feeling all too well).

 

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$2.13/hr. + Tips

 

The ice at your side-station is running low

and everybody else is just as busy as you are

which is busier than everybody else, too busy

to fill the ice (some will go into the kitchen,

scoop single glasses right out of the ice machine,

their knees jabbing the scoop holder, their shoulders

just missing a brush against the hanging buckets as

they hurry back to the soda dispenser). Your manager

is chatting up the same table you’re trying to serve

food, not letting your customer service distract

his – your inquiry into what else these guests

may need slips imperceptibly into the sentence

gaps of this exchange. You’re sure you heard your

name inside the steady litany hollered by the expeditor

letting you know another table’s meals are ready but

you haven’t greeted the people sat a few minutes ago.

A bead of sweat works its way along your hairline

in front of your ear. Your skin is warm and in it

you can feel the food marinating under the heat

lamps as this customer orders a water he’ll barely

touch to compliment his sweet tea that’ll keep

inching toward the half-way-empty and you just

know that if you let it once drop below

half, that’s how much he’ll drop your tip by.

#

Call Center

 

Like musical canons

the office fills and drains with

voices – variations on a standard

greeting – infused with smiles.

 

I stare into the gaps between

partitions. Stare into the frayed

edges and strung-

out threads of fabric dangled

                        

against shadows and

metal. And into fabric

design that functions to conceal

old push-pin holes and absorb new

 

ones. Alone in my head-

phones: the single ring that

jars me out from my walls and back to

my place in the canon.

 

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