“Undercover Boss” by Brian Wood

It’s early out yet, no sign of the sun.
An alarm bell rings in a bland hotel,
And someone gets up, dresses. Their fingers
Fumble over toupees, buttons, glasses,
Possibly even a fake moustache. Then
They start out their day as a trainee,
Doing real work for once. They introduce
Themselves as Fake Name & are put to it
Right away, making dough, sorting laundry,
Carting pop around, cleaning floors, manning
The cash register, answering phones.  They
Are always paired with someone who can do

Those jobs: the contrast is often striking.
By his first break, Fake Name is beat, gone, used,
Can barely move. He has not worked this hard
In 20 years. In comparison, his
Trainer is just nicely starting her 12
Hour shift, so she can pay for braces, or school,
Dad’s new wheelchair, or that trip to England
For her mom. There is normally a shot
Of Fake Name heading back to his hotel,
Totally spent, musing how anyone
Does this all day, all the time, & how they
Let it get to this. At the end, he shaves

The beard, takes out the contacts, puts away
The cardboard hat, & meets his trainers for
Real this time, as the boss. Some recognize
The voice, others are not so sure. To each
One he tells what he saw, learned, and what he
Would change. He does what he can to help with
Mom’s dreamed of trip, the wheelchair, the braces, next
Year’s tuition…….And no matter how gauche,
Awkward or contrived, something moving in
This, as faces thicken, and people reach for
Tissues. Many do not move or speak, their
Gratitude caught in a time before words.

They can scarcely believe what they hear, for
Until someone helps, your burden is the
Heaviest, gaining on you while you sleep.
Or it could be they are silent because
The kind words have taken them some place they
Dare not go often, a land described but
Rarely seen, where the real world was a law
So like love you could never tell it from
Your imagined, private world, where just as
You are, without one plea, you would be waves
Of light washing over an earth that held
You, the really you, for only so long.


2 thoughts on ““Undercover Boss” by Brian Wood

  1. Pingback: 2013 so far a year to remember! | Brian J Wood- Literary Agent

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