Wednesday September 28th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the complaint.

Work went by pretty quickly this morning. Had a side project to keep me busy, which was good since the phones were very quiet. Then I went over to Town Hall to cover a lunch break and things got a little more interesting.

Had several phone calls, one of which was a guy complaining about an invoice he'd received from the town. I guess he'd been given a couple warnings for an 'unsightly premise' and didn't do anything about it in time and then was surprised by the rather large bill.

So that was fun.

And then a lady came in to complain about a neighbour's tree. Thankfully I didn't have to deal with her, but I did have the best seat in the house for her conversation with another person who works at Town Hall. After she was told there wasn't really anything the town could do about it, she declared that she wasn't going to pay her taxes next year and stormed out.

Good times.

Also: not a very good solution to the problem. If she doesn't pay her taxes for three years the town can sell her property in order to collect their money. I can't imagine it will come to that but... you know, maybe not the best idea to go down that road.

Back at it tomorrow!


He files his complaints,
Year after year,
Then drowns his sorrows,
Beer after beer.

They'll all be ignored;
They just don't care
About his concerns -
They're standard fare.

But it's the barkeep
Who knows (and sadly so)
When it's time to pay up,
And when it's time to go.


Greg said...

No cemetary cleaning duties for you then? ;-) Ah, customer service. How you find out just how insane the vocal minority can be... and how it's the pettiest things that annoy people the most. Still, it sounds like you only had to deal with half of it, so I'd say you got lucky there! And I'm kind of curious now to see if that lady does decide that her principles are more important than her property and holds out for three years on her taxes.
I like your poem, and the first two verses are great (especially the first), but something seems to go wrong with the first line of the last verse for me. I think to keep the rhythm you have to make it "But it's the barkeep who knows" and put "(and sadly so)" on its own. The last line seems to have trouble fitting "it's" in its rhythm as well -- perhaps "And when he should go"?
But don't let my throwing peanuts detract from what is a great little story, elegantly told, and let's face it: if I were better at poetry you'd see more of it from me!

The complaint
He was dressed like Alex from A Clockwork Orange; white shirt, white suspenders, white trousers. She couldn't see a bully stick anywhere, but he was holding the black hat casually in his other hand while he held out the cardboard box of archival papers to her. She took them, her eyes automatically scanning the little checkout slip pasted to the lid.
"I'll just check," she said. The box contained only seven pieces of paper, two newspaper clippings, a copy of a birth certificate, and a few other boring things. It was all in order, so she slipped it under the counter.
"Thank you, Mr...?"
"Alex," he said, and she half-smiled in surprise. "Alex Spiteri."
As he left she pulled the box back out from under the counter and checked the birth certificate again. Except it wasn't there. She frowned, recounting the papers: no only six now. And she was almost sure that the name on it had been Alex Spiteri.

"Eighty dollars."
The doctor was refreshingly blunt. He was heavyset running to fat and wheezed like he had untreated asthma. Being in the same room as him was making Alex feel like he likely to need a doctor after he left, but the man was cheap and not protesting about ethics or morals or even legality. Alex pulled out his wallet -- his since that morning -- and checked it: there were several hundred dollar bills in there. He selected one, set it on the desk, and smiled. "I've nothing smaller," he said, "so perhaps we should round it up?"
The medical folder was pulled across the desk so fast Alex was surprised it didn't throw up sparks, and a childish scrawl covered a page quickly. "It's a serious complaint," said the doctor, coughing phlegmatically. "You wouldn't expect more than three years after being diagnosed with it. You'll need a doctor's report every six months when you start claiming insurance."
Alex nodded, secretly amused that the doctor was pandering quite so obviously. He almost felt sorry for anyone genuinely sick who came here seeking help.

"Mr. Spiteri?"
Alex nodded, held out his hand, shook.
"Everyone's been looking forward to meeting you. There was a news story about a fire where you lived...?"
"I lost a lot," said Alex, letting his eyelids droop a little, softening his posture a touch. "But not my life, thankfully."
"Oh yes! Well, please come this way, and welcome. Welcome to St. Genevieve's Hospice!"

morganna said...

Pain in
My shoulder, just
There, yes, just there -- make it
Go away, pleas. Can't raise my arm high,
Or move it very much at all right now.

I can't make it go right away
But I can agree, it's
Awful to be
In pain.

Marc said...

Greg - thanks... yeah, I seem to recall having trouble with that final stanza. I think your suggestions would definitely improve things. I think it was one of those poems where the start came easily, and then finishing proved difficult.

Hmm. Intriguing. You've definitely captured my imagination with this one.

Morganna - your opening sounds like me (well, almost... I can raise my arm fine, I'm just always dealing with sore shoulders). And your closing sounds like... pretty much anyone I complain to about it :P