Dear Customer

As of this week I’m back working in customer service. It’s coming into the season here in Cornwall (Easter break!) so a few part time positions have come up around the village. I really didn’t want to go back to shop work, if I’m honest, but I’ve found it a huge relief.

Whilst selling pasties a couple of days a week isn’t exactly the most glamorous job in the world (I’m always open to better offers and am still available for freelance work here *cough*), having at least this small avenue of income takes a massive weight off my chest. Because that is what poverty feels like—an iron weight pressing down on your lungs until it is more and more difficult to breathe. Surprisingly, I’ve also enjoyed being around people again, as well as doing a physically tiring day of work as opposed to a mentally tiring one at a desk. Cabin fever is real, guys, not to mention the mental toll sitting alone all day and refreshing my inbox was taking!

I LOVE writing, more than anything in this world, but it is great to be making at least this meagre amount of money as I try to make my writing profitable.

But in honour of having re-joined customer service, I’m cracking back out this poem I wrote during my MA. Dear Customer is based on real customers I’ve experienced over the years, one in particular. Yet I think it can be applied to a lot of customers world-wide (and the people who serve them!).

Dear Customer,

What gives you the right

to say this to me?

Sitting alone, nursing a drink.

 

You’re a waster,

a wash out.

What is your aim?

Are you not even trying to change?

 

You sit on the other side

of the bar     waiting     for my response.

I busy myself stowing a glass.

 

Minimum wage,

part time,

a zero-hour contract.

 

The hot glass burns my fingers.

Steam rises from the dishwasher,

the fog of life before me.

 

Where are you going?

What is your plan?

Why are you

          pretty girl,

          young girl,

          fake smile,

          quick wit,

          arse I’ll stare at as you bend to get my next drink,

not in a serious job?

Something proper?

Something for your parents to be proud of?

 

Who the hell are you?

I want to respond:

What gives you the right

to smash me apart

as I do the only job I could get?

While I try, desperately,

not to hate my life.

Too late.

 

You don’t know a thing,

as you stare into your amber pint.

 

You have no idea how hard I work.

Thousands of applications,

thousands of rejections.

All saying:

You’re not quite good enough,

    little girl,

    but please – don’t give up!

 

Lying awake in the drowning night.

 

What am I doing with my life?

Good question!

I’m doing the same as everyone else in my year,

no, my generation,

 

  my best.

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