Working At The Sandwich Shop by Blythe Baird

A boy with gnats in his smile and a bone to pick with me wants
to know if I can write my number in Chipotle sauce on the bun.

His friend requests exactly eighteen black olives.

A girl on a cell phone informs me that the cucumbers and tomatoes
on her sub absolutely cannot under any circumstance touch each other,
but it’s okay if they, like, nudge.

My back is the popular lunch table. My sweat is everyone’s
favorite flavor.

Sometimes, people attempt to engage in some sort of strange
casual chatting when I ask what I can get for them.
Pro tip: Yeah dude, the weather outside is frightful.
Now tell me what you want on your fucking sandwich.

Too many old white dudes with boring flatbreads
and bluetooths in their ears point at their watches

as if it’ll somehow speed the whole process up,
complimenting my lipstick like they’re doing me a favor.

Too many old white dudes decide they own
the people who serve them.

I am not your “babe.” I do not owe you a single thing
but this here sandwich and complimentary napkin.

There is mayonnaise on the bridge of my glasses
and my fingers are pruning with pickle juice.

If you try to crudely flirt with me in the toppings line,
I will give you the roast beef that looks like an oil spill.

I will give you the meat with all the fat.

Accidentally, I charge one kid two thousand and sixty-three
dollars for a white macadamia cookie instead of $2.63. My hair smells
like Jalapeños. There is exactly two minutes and thirty-six seconds

before we close and my shift is over, so naturally the entire
football team decides now is prime time to order thirty sandwiches.

When I finally clock out and start my homework,
my sociology textbook is stained with spicy mustard.
But I will never spit in your sub for revenge. I admit:
I am thankful to be working at all. So I will smile
with all my teeth. I will swaddle your sub in paper
like a newborn. I will tell you to have a good day.

But tonight, I will wash my apron
in the blood of rude customers.

I will call it detergent. I will call it
ketchup.

blythe headshotBlythe Baird is an 18-year-old poet, actress, and feminist. In 2014, she represented Chicago as the youngest competitor at the National Poetry Slam. Her work has been published or featured by Write Bloody, The Huffington Post, Wicked Banshee Press, and Banango Street, among others. She is currently studying creative writing and women’s studies at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Her first full length book of poems is coming out through Where Are You press in 2015.