the modernisation of the working class, by paul tanner

it’s just you on the floor.
the queue is to the back of the shop.
the townsfolk – o! put-upon, put-upon townsfolk, o! –
they wave their fists.
YOU NEED MORE STAFF! they decide
as you scan and pack their shit.
YOU NEED MORE STAFF! they cleverly deduce
as your arms blur like hummingbird wings.
YOU NEED MORE STAFF! they educate you
as you serve them as fast as you can.
the townsfolk – o! helpful, helpful townsfolk, o! –
will someday come up with
the ultimate meme
or seminal tweet
that will instantly eradicate the class system
but in the meantime
a complaint about
your bad customer service
is a step to the right
a step in the right direction
I’m sure.
I’m as sure
as they are
and they’re never wrong, are they,
the townsfolk? – o! valued, valued townsfolk, o! –
we appreciate your feedback


Novel ‘Jobseeker’ on Amazon. Shortlisted for the Erbacce 2020 Poetry Prize. Latest collection ‘Shop Talk: Poems for Shop Workers’ is published by Penniless Press.

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