I sat outside on a bench, taking a break from my job as an inbound tech support agent, doing my best to avoid the view between the spaces of the iron rail fence surrounding the patio. I told myself it could always be worse. After all, I knew worse, and I wasn’t depressed. Or, at least I had convinced myself I was better at managing.
A few feet away I could hear someone on their cell phone telling their “baby” about their last work call, how it was funny the person calling didn’t know the term left click . But “baby” didn’t understand computers, so the conversation struggled between explaining and reassuring “baby” they weren’t stupid, hoping eventually “baby” would understand the humor.
I hated everything about this conversation, especially how someone could choose to talk on the phone about work, when their work was talking on the phone. I tried to drown out the words by watching the crows on the telephone wire, noting the way they took turns flying away, or landing one by one without disturbing the rest of the murder.
The mobile homes teasing rusted wheels and cinder blocks through missing panelled skirts reminded me too much of my current situation at the call center, dreading the start of each work day, but still clocking-in for a check.
On this particular day, I should have been happy. I had returned to school at a local community college, and the conclusion of Spring semester meant I had completed my Associates, but all I could think about was how I was still in the same place, despite how much I’d changed. I wondered if the coworker had it right. Perhaps, what I needed most was someone to call on break, someone to listen to my story about how I had a caller who had downloaded a porn virus on their partner’s computer and was too afraid to tell me. I told the caller I didn’t care about what they’d done. I just needed to know what happened, how much time we had, and I could probably fix it. I solved the issue minutes before their partner came home.
I imagine my someone saying, “Oh wow! You’re a hero!”
And I’d say, “Ya, I guess so.”
And I’d be able to accept working at the call center, and be happy.
Then, I heard the crows cackle and fly away. So I flipped them off. Though, I knew they were right. Later, I would find out that crows are notorious jokers, that they always remember.
Instead of settling with the call center, I decided I would transfer to a state university and major in English. At the time, I felt disconnected, lost, and unsure of my future plans. All I knew was I wanted freedom, and creative writing offered a path to finish a four year degree, with long legged hope of becoming a writer.
In the fall I would take my first creative writing class in poetry, and meet Dr. Jane Hoogestradt .I remember Dr. Jane’s teaching style distinctly, how she would thoughtfully consider every presented idea, no matter who brought it up, or how ridiculous it sounded. She patiently nurtured us to feel safe, open, and confident in our poetry, while showing us how to cultivate ideas, possibilities, and how to listen to what the poem wanted to be.
At the end of the semester, she encouraged me to take her next poetry class. She explained how she was excited by my development, but I still needed to learn how to not hide behind abstraction, so she was giving me a B.
But I didn’t mind, I was just happy to feel a little less like a pretender, more like a writer, and a bit like a poet.
Chris Daniel Crabtree hails from Springfield, Missouri. His poetry has appeared in publications such as, Elder Mountain, Midwestern Gothic, Sundog Lit, and The Literature of the Ozarks: An Anthology, among others. He is a recipient of the Moon City Literary Prize for poetry, and longlisted for best short fiction by Wigleaf. He is a fan of book sniffing.