Dale Dauten: Speaker, Author, Innovation Consultant [an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Clerk with the Smirk

It just occurred to me how they must train those unflinching guards at Buckingham Palace. They send them to the U.S. to work as waiters. Would-be guards learn to see right through people, to reach the point where no waving or shouting can distract them. Recently I observed a fellow in a restaurant trying so hard to get a waiter's attention that he was practically doing seated jumping jacks. The poor guy did not know that experienced food service professionals wear special contact lenses that make customers invisible.

The problem isn't just in restaurants, of course. Retail stores hire ghosts. Go into a big discount store and you will see shoppers, working in teams, equipped with floor-plans and walkie-talkies, trying to corner clerks. Still, the employees escape. They dematerialize and then reassemble their molecules in the break room.

Having worked my way through college as a bookstore clerk, I know how frustrating "the public" can be. But, hey, you ain't got annoyances, you ain't got a job. So, in tribute to all the good retail clerks, the ones who actually help customers, I wrote a poem about the slouches who make their jobs harder. With a tip of a cat's hat to the immortal Dr. Seuss, I give you....


The shop it was busy.
The clerk he was not.
The more shoppers asked him,
The dumber he got.

"They don't pay me enough,
to do all this work.
They don't pay me enough,"
Said The Clerk With The Smirk.

"Slow, slower, slowest:
That's my strategy.
You want it done fast,
Don't try asking me."

"I hate working here --
All irk and no perk.
I long to get axed,"
Said The Clerk With The Smirk.

"I'll be unemployed.
I'll go on the dole.
No taxes to pay.
No rigamarole."

And the Clerk With The Smirk,
Soon got himself fired.
The boss sent him packing,
With language inspired.

Thought the Clerk With The Smirk,
"That's fine, fine, fine, fine.
I'll collect unemployment;
I'll go get in line."

But the lines there were long,
And the service so poor,
That waiting and waiting
Became quite a chore.

At last at the front,
The smirker did whine,
"The help here is lousy,
You ought to resign."

The man sized him up,
And said with a sneer,
"I'm closing this line;
You can go to the rear."

"Hey, wait! No you don't!"
Cried the Clerk With The Smirk.
"I'll see that you're fired;
For the work that you shirk."

To the Clerk With The Smirk,
Said the Clerk With The Sneer,
"Thanks to people like you,
I'll always be here."

Copyright © 1994, King Features Syndicate

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