Most days are the same with slight variations—
As they should be in a small sleepy suburb.
Customers come and go in a hurry, all with their
lives as I stay in the store working until
The clock allows me to leave.
I have my own concerns, dreams, feelings, and moments,
A passerby to them as they are to me.
There are some customers who come into the store every day
to get coffee, a snack, or breakfast. A paper maybe, or something to smoke.
Some of them I know, learn their orders, learn small fragments
Of their lives as they come into contact with me.
Working people: parents, teachers, students, construction workers,
Bankers, office workers, coaches, police, farmers, sleepers
What significance am I? A Clerk? A server?
There’s one man, short middle aged, balding with glasses.
Has a hardy laugh, deep voice, and infectious smile.
Every morning he asks for a turkey, bacon and ranch sandwich,
Or some mornings orders three hash browns, or two—variations slight. And Coffee.
We share no deep conversation, a happy customer and willing server.
But today, a normal day. Slightly the same with variation.
I’m brewing coffee, feeling cold and uncaring, wanting to leave
Waiting for the clock to hurry up. I hear my name, and see the man
“I want to thank you” he says.
“Thank you for always giving me good service and helping me. I won’t be
Coming in much anymore. On Monday I was laid off.
The only veteran working there. Laid off on Veteran’s day.”
I stood there dumb with sympathy.
“I’m sorry.” I said after trying to find words, but there were none.
I tried to offer him free coffee, or a free sandwich.
He politely declined, got money from the ATM and left the store.
Somebody tell me the words to say.
I pray for this man who’s name I regrettably don’t know.
When a man’s life is ruined in a day,
Dear God! What do you say?