Literary Yard

Search for meaning

for the landlady is not god but her rent is religion anyway

By: Paul Tanner

2 supervisors caught him
at the chiller section,
shoving packs of bacon into his anorak.
they dragged him into the manager’s office …

you go back
to scanning and packing
for the queue …

about ten minutes later
the guy in the anorak
goes running across the shop floor
and out in the street …

then the 2 supervisors
come wheezing over.

where’s he gone? they ask.
did you just let him go? they ask.

you’re on the tills.
you’re the only one
on the tills.
you’re the only one
on the whole shop floor,
with a queue that reaches to the back of the shop
because it took
2 supervisors
to hold down a thief
in the manager’s office …
and they still let him escape

and now it’s YOU let him get away?

but bite your tongue.
remember your zero-hour contract.
remember your 6-month probation period.
if you give them lip,
they might fire you.
but if you take the blame,
they might let you off with a warning.

so: sorry, you say.

they shake their heads at you
and go back into the manager’s office,
muttering …

they should be serving! someone in the queue says.
you should have told one of them to jump on!

sorry, you say again.

turns out you didn’t last a month
in that place.
either they let you go
or you quit,
you can’t remember which.
it’s all a bit hazy:
you’ve been drunk ever since.

either way,
you were sorry:
hence the drinking.

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