Through our lives we’ve sustained ourselves, working hard to achieve what we set out to do. We’ve probably had a few jobs in our adult lives to work towards that goal. Without the help of Dorothy Kilgallen or Bennett Cerf, write a poem about one of those jobs during that time in your life. Retired is not a job in this exercise. Tell us a bit more about you and maybe some hidden skill. What’s your line?



My first job, at The Niles Bank,
I worked between two men who smoked.
The office held a haze that stank.
I wanted to speak up, but choked.


© Marie Elena Good, 2020



Start at the bottom, you can’t go any lower, the only way out is up! Character building? Well, maybe but it was a just job, dirty as it was, my first foray to a steady payday. I haven’t sloughed a day since I started that grind. Back in the day you could find me on the right end of a broom or bowl brush, good to the last flush. I worked McMaintenance at the first chance to make some cash. I would eventually show some manner of ability to actually run the whole facility as the unit manager. It offered some perks (although I still had to deal with jerks on weekends). It depends on what could be deemed bettering my life. It was where I met my wife. All that and change back from your dollar. I’m loving it!

every beginning
ends only to start again.
fresh start for the heart.

© Walter J Wojtanik – 2020

59 thoughts on “PROMPT #306 – WHAT’S MY LINE?

  1. What fun to think about this again!

    Le Consulat de Belgique

    His arms were too short
    to proceed his belly.
    His desk, wooden,
    and soaked in the aroma
    of spiced rum. Mahogany,
    I think, nearly black
    as his moods were often.
    The Belgium consulate.
    I was his secretary.

  2. Pingback: Poetic Bloomings’ What’s Your Line – Plumb-Lines


    As a janitor swinging a mop,
    I would pick up the butts and the slop;
    I would wipe down the doors
    and would shine up the floors
    overnights in the vacated shop.

    This was back when Kodak still was healthy
    and the city still felt hale and wealthy.
    Now most buildings I’d greet
    have all gone from the street,
    so the place now feels morbid and stealthy.

  4. Activity Director

    Recently married, hubby and I
    moved to Wheatland, Wyoming.
    Half the population was Wheatland
    the other half was a trailer park
    filled with construction workers.

    People from the power plant
    warned us that the townspeople
    didn’t like construction people,
    but they welcomed me as a volunteer
    in Activities at a nursing home.

    I enjoyed playing games, making crafts
    singing, dancing and going on outings.
    And when one in the department moved
    I was hired on as a regular employee,
    and for a short time I ran it myself.

    Planning, activities, paper work,
    but getting to know each resident
    proved to be the best part of the job.
    I was attached to each one. But then,
    the time came for the next power plant.

    One evening, home alone, I mentally
    went into each room saying goodbye.
    Armed with a box of tissues, I cried
    for each individual. Chances were small
    that I would ever see them again.

    When it was time for my goodbye party.
    It was like just another activity. No tears.
    We had cake and ice cream and they
    gave me a copper water wheel music box
    that played, “In the Good Old Summertime.”

    Forty years later, I still have it.

  5. I have had jobs that smelled
    like steak, jobs that smelled like old books;
    stale coffee jobs; rubbing alcohol. One smelled
    like unexcused farts in a windowless pool hall.
    But for one November in St Petersburg I packed
    gift boxes of fancy-fine oranges for families deserted
    in Toronto, Cleveland, Montreal; and friends,
    that sweaty assembly line smelled best of all.

  6. 0 For 2

    Newly married and living in
    Dayton Ohio, desperate for
    any job. Employment in front
    of fish tank in Woolworth’s-type store
    Sex of fish? Master net? Fish flops on floor.

    Household Finance, math a weakness
    of mine. Cash drawer does not balance
    at end of day. Stay late each night.
    Annoyed manager, Miss Perfect,
    who swiftly had me sacked with malice.

  7. Guess since retirement doesn’t count as a job (haha), I’ll go back to my very first work experience. Way back. Man, am I old or what?!?

    Spud Land

    It was late September back in ‘59
    In a chilly Northern Maine town
    And I was only five years old

    My mama had me all bundled up
    In a furry winter snow suit with
    Boots and bright yellow mittens

    Then she loaded me in the car
    Even before the sun came up
    And off we went to spud land

    It wasn’t a very long trip
    The first field was just outside town
    It was exciting to get out of the house

    Mama had a brand new basket
    And a tiny new basket for me
    That I dragged into the field

    It was a long walk for a five year old
    Into the dirt and potato covered field
    But it was a new adventure

    Mama staked out her picking section
    Grabbed an empty barrel or two
    And started filling her basket

    She made sure to keep an eye on me
    Didn’t want me run over by the tractor
    That would have ruined her day

    I tried to copy what she did
    One potato – two potato – three
    Into my tiny basket they went

    But I was only five years old
    Didn’t hold focus so well back then
    Mama had an extra basket for naps

    We all started really young back then
    The potato harvest was a family affair
    A tradition unfortunately lost as of late

  8. I enjoyed your little vignette, Marie, and it reminded me of how rarely I see “stank” these days.

  9. Walt, your piece reminded me of one of the perks of working at a Carvel stand: you could eat your mistakes.

  10. Not a poem. Not a Haiban just a statement of fact.

    My Career

    Briefly, I worked at Sunset News not a reporter but overseeing the newspaper boys’ payments. Then, again briefly, telemarketing caller to sell coupon books. Ugh! I spent a year learning front and back medical office work then worked for my father-in-law at his practice. After my husband’s death and my remarriage, I worked at the Employment Office as front desk secretary. All jobs, employment, not careers.
    My career began when I became a stay at home mom. That was the most rewarding work I ever did. It wasn’t the easiest job, nor a prestigious job, nor a financially rewarding job, but I wouldn’t trade occupations with the highest paid CEO in the world. My title is Granny and Nana and, the best perks in the world came with my job. They’re called Joshua, Matthew, Eli, Gideon, Judah, Noah, Havailah and Nolan.

  11. First Job to Last

    Lacquered nails tap impatiently
    and legs swing slightly above three inch heels
    bouquets of plastic ribbon tumbling
    from her IBM Selectric
    false eyelashes batting incredulously
    as I retrieve tiny cassettes new/used
    buried beneath silver type ball

    I’m doing it again answering
    her call to untangle unjam
    re-spool re-seat reset
    my own fingers darkening
    as I stretch out and untwist
    the jumbled mess my unpainted nails
    finessing crevices until her own
    Mauve Madness tips dance
    above memos spiraling afresh
    from spinning platen

    even as I retire to the Ladies
    and scrub my hands with Chem-green
    smelling like a hospital ER
    before returning to my own
    Executive with its crazy spacing
    3 spaces for a number 5 for an /m/ or /w/
    backspacing a mathematical nightmare

    yet I found myself up close and personal
    with typewriters of all makes and models
    Gestetners with their blue ditto masters
    stencil machines with tubes of thick ink
    and rolling drums and finally
    copiers where I tweezed out jams
    paper shredders and laminators
    repairmen a last resort

    word spreading through office
    grapevine that I was some kind
    of Whisperer unafraid to work
    with my hands (mostly) cheerful
    and generally able to answer a call
    my unpaid side hustle
    for which I never applied
    every job I’ve ever had.

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