Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ben Abused

With an armload of assumption
I. M. Eager started work
and he said with utmost gumption
“You’ll never catch me shirk!”

His foreman, Richard Lackey
just smiled and said “Calm down,
it seems a little tacky
with you jumping all around.”

“I’m taking you to Gabby Blab
so you can get your start
she’s gaudy and she loves to gab
but competent and smart.

Just never tell her any dirt
you don’t want widely known
she has a tendency to blurt
it out (except her own).”

Her outfit was a shocking pink
affair with purple scarf
like something splattered in the sink
if Barney had to barf,

and I.M. found out right away
what foreman Lackey meant
before he even said good day
she indiscreetly leant

and whispered “Don’t believe that sot
he loves to toss ‘em back
his bloated liver’s full of rot
and his son is hooked on smack.”

She gave him countless forms to sign
while prodding pleasantly
if he had problems to opine
“You can always talk to me.”

she said, but he was scared to speak
so she rose and said “Let’s go,
you’ll be instructed for a week
on all you need to know.

Your trainer’s been here forty years
so listen to him well,
but if he grumbles plug your ears
his mind has gone to hell.”

They entered the production floor
and I.M. got enthused
until they went through one more door
and he met Ben Abused.

Now Ben was old, his back was stooped
his face was like a mask
but he was always first one scooped
to finish any task,

he sized up his new protégé
and said “I guess you’ll do,
we’ll make sure that you earn your pay
before the shift is through.”

And so it went for that first week
between I. M. and Ben
who told him (when he chose to speak)
his tales of other men.

“See that guy with the haggard face
his name is Kenny Last
with five kids in a two room space
and six approaching fast.”

They spied a girl with a bristly head
“That’s good old Sam Iam,
she never has much fun in bed
a ramrod with no ram.”

One day Mr. Lackey screamed
“These numbers make me sick!”
in Ben’s old eyes a twinkle gleamed
“that’s why we call him Dick.”

By Friday Ben hadn’t changed
he bustled to and fro
but when the afternoon bell clanged
he said “Come on, let’s go!

They got me a card with scratch-offs in it
along with a tiny cake
and Dickie gave me an extra minute
on this, my final break.”

He grudgingly beheld I. M.
and said, “You’ll do okay,
just keep your hopes to a minimum
our place is where we stay,

my father told me long ago
that rich folk were our betters
improving things with what they know,
domesticating debtors,

and all we have to try to do
is make what they can sell
for more than what they pay the crew
that labors in their hell.”

Then Ben paused to look around
his face morosely sad
this frantic place of constant sound
was all he ever had,

“The owner has a giant pad,
a mansion by the sea,
I don’t have much, my credit’s bad
one room’s enough for me,

he has his pets that tell him what
he really wants to hear,
the rest of us are nothing but
a soon discarded gear,

but all of that’s behind me now
this week has been my last,
I’ll wipe the moisture from my brow,
pick up my pole and cast.”

Within a month they all were told
that Ben was in the soil,
his tired heart at last went cold
from years of fruitless toil,

now I. M. goes to work each day
his life a structured blur,
he never has too much to say
the robot they prefer,

it doesn’t matter what he was
way back when he began,
amidst the grinding corporate buzz
you’ll never be a man.


Paul Andrew Russell said...

I have worked in so many of those places and with all those people, Bob.

Great observations and a lovely piece of writing. It made me smile.

The only people who enjoy work are those who are watching others do it. lol

Cynthia said...

Whoa, you have this aspect or
menatality of human nature down

rch said...

Thanks Paul and Cynthia, I guess after 25 years in just such a place I've noticed a few things.

Billy Jones said...

been there, done that... ran away and cried...