on knowing the queen of the sanitation department by John Grochalski

look at this, she says
slapping down the daily news
in front of me

it is a picture of a dead woman
being taken out of her house on a stretcher

the neighbors are loitering around
taking photographs with their cell phones

disgusting, isn’t it? she asks

typical, i say
standard human behavior

no, she says
people have gotten worse
society has gotten worse
it’s these cell phones
and this technology
air conditioners and reality tv
the internet and all of those damned video games

people don’t care, she says
not like they used to

people have never cared, i tell her
you have us confused with another kind of animal

people did care
they did once in this country, she says

people had respect and pride
we had a sense of community in this city

but not now

people are disgusting to each other here
and in the world at large, she says

just yesterday i saw a woman walk outside
and dump garbage all over the street
even though there was a garbage can
a half a block down

i asked her what she thought she was doing
dumping that shit all over
and do you know what she said to me?
she asks

what?

this bitch says
what’re you? queen of the sanitation department?

and what did you say?

i said, yeah, i’m the queen of the
fucking sanitation department
you bet your ass i am
and if you don’t pick that garbage up
i’m going to grab you by the neck
and ram it down your fucking throat

i swear, she says
people just can’t be kind and considerate
anymore.

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