There was a guy at work I liked,
but he was straight.
The other guys at work
always made fun of him,
jeering with mirthless laughter.
He was the punching bag.
Every mistake he made
the manager would say,
“You’re a fucking idiot.”
He did do some dumb things
from time to time,
He was told that
if he didn’t shape up
he’d be demoted.
So he worked hard, because
he wanted to be promoted.
Some days he wouldn’t take breaks,
some days he’d work doubles,
or pick up shifts at other stores.
He was stressed and wanted to be
He started to smoke ‘cause he couldn’t handle
The other guys would say he wasn’t good enough,
They’d wonder how he got his position.
They’d scoff and say “he thinks he’s
the shit. He’s a loser that
tries too hard.”
When he was around they’d say it jokingly,
When he wasn’t they’d say it mercilessly.
For a few months in the fall, his mom
Was in and out of the hospital
Having multiple surgeries for her
kidneys, there was a stone that
His two sisters were away at college,
and he was the only one at home,
to take care of his grandfather.
He was working hard, trying,
And wanted to be promoted.
One day he came into work
Looking pale, weak, dazed, and
“Are you okay?” I asked.
I knew he was lying.
“How are you holding up?
I know your mom has surgery today.
You had to drive her to the hospital right?”
“Oh, that’s not bothering me. I know she’ll be fine.
I’m just tired, or ate something weird,
I don’t know.”
“Are you sure?”
The manager sent him home early,
“You look like shit.”
After he went home the other guys were
making fun of him, calling him a
And I felt mad.
I wanted to yell,
Let off him will! His mom
has been in and out of the hospital
for a month,
all of you are always teasing him but
no one has once asked if
he was okay.”
But I didn’t.
All I said was, “leave him alone.
They looked at me, confused.
“We’re just joking.”
Later, he texted me saying,
“By the way, don’t tell anyone about my mom.”
I didn’t ask why. I didn’t wanna push it.
I wonder, if anyone laughed
while he carried part of his world,
and called him
“a fucking idiot.”