Casual Observations of an Imperfect World

by Jamal Sharif

I stood nineteen minutes
staring at the back of your head
as if I had any other choice
You and your lily white dilemma was holdin' up the line
but you didn't give a damn
(least that's what you yelled at the clerk
after she politely explained that her nervousness
was due to it being her first day)

It wasn't her fault she had to get a price check
or that you chipped a freshly manicured nail
reaching for that platinum credit card
but because she didn't transact quickly enough
you delayed me and five others even further
by complaining to the manager
apparently in the belief that
a seven-ninety-five an hour employee
is required to take your shit

You didn't notice but
I was studying you like homework

All decked out in a pantsuit
straight off DKNY's new spring fashion line
had nerve to be so uptight, when more than likely
you were fresh from the once a week
mid-morning mud bath chemical peel facial
eucalyptus full body massage appointment at the spa

Maybe you were late for racquetball with jenny
lunch with suzie
tennis with bob
missing the first half of Young and the Restless, perhaps
no doubt the maid was at home bakin' dinner and
the mister on somebody's fairway yellin' 'fore'

Your tan appeared to be acquired via three weeks' time
in the Caymans or Bahamas or 
St. Croix or maybe Rio or even the south of France
yet you stood there cussin'
about the perceived lack of customer service
over an eighty-six dollar sweater 
(that looked like shit on a hanger)
which you probably bought just to wear around the house

because ya'll white girls do that kind of thing

And there I was rushin' hustlin' during lunch hour
bartering a never worn outfit for some quick cash to make it until payday

'cause we black girls be doin' that kind of thang

Wasn't no dinner or massage or maid or mister
to be waitin' for me when I got home
I was flat broke busted in the negative
couldn't even get my clothes out the cleaners
braids needed serious professional attention
hadn't had a vacation in years and to top it off
was about to get docked for an unauthorized extended lunch

Yet I still had it in me 
to make polite conversation
with the same clerk you made cry
whose name, by the way, was Maria
a full-time nursing student who really needed the job
to pay for bus fare tuition and books

And at 12:57 PM I walked out of Macy's late as hell
but just in time to see you drive away

And I fantasized deliriously about the perfect world
wherein Maria could have taken an early break 
to meet me in the parking lot 
beside your candy apple-red mercedes 
'cause I swear, we woulda made absolutely sure 
no one saw as we took turns kickin' your rude 

Casual Observations of an Imperfect World by Jamal Sharif

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