The First Day

Everyone has a first time
and this was mine
the sun was just beginning to set
the yellow glow a harbinger of things to come
and, as nightfall settled like fog,
locking into place with a thud thud thud
like a jigsaw puzzle piece fitting a bit too perfectly
both the innie and the outie
he took me around and introduced me to the girls
Cathy, Debbie, Joanne, Rhonda
and then they showed me the ping pong table upstairs
i was 21 when i unwrapped my sandwich
and popped the top on my V-8
with the mothers in the break room fawning over me
such a baby, barely any peach fuzz
until they returned to their tales of toilet training, tummy aches
the sisterhood of the swing shift
and me

There were other firsts, sure
the one where they hung a plastic badge around my neck like a medal
the one where i went wandering,
lost among the brick buildings of the 300 side of the chemical plant
the one where i met Sandy and Clare and Gail
and Trish the supervisor
oh geez, all women again
the one where i faked it big time
having lied about knowing the software

And then came desperation
o unemployment, thy noose tightening about my neck
as the blank months, the blankety-blank months
were ripped, torn, shredded and crumpled off the calendar
until finally, like the first time,
back on the swing shift in a strange place
a three hour round trip for eight and a quarter an hour
we met the trainer in the lobby
and i won the contest for new employee who came farthest
to this hellhole
she walked us around the outside of the building
to the side entrance
while the wind blew and i talked to myself
breathe, breathe
stifling the panic attack rising in my chest
you are going to do this if it’s the last thing you do
i was at the back of the line
not knowing whether i’d make it or not
gritting my teeth with determination
til i walked through the door
and it was not the last thing i did

And then there was today
the first time, o the first time once again
at my age we stop having firsts
and start having lasts
but here we go again,
the first, le premier, el primero, der ershte Tag
sitting on the end of the couch closest to the door
leaning into my laptop
as if to place shoulder to wheel
pay attention to the blackboard, listen to the teacher
be polite
you only have one chance to make a first impression
so grateful to have a place to go in the morning
even if it’s just the living room
coworkers on the other side of the world
say hello over skype

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2 thoughts on “The First Day

  1. Pingback: Lessons Learned from Working at Home | A Map of California

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