Friday, 4 April 2014

Dress Down Day (Charity Begins At Work)

“If you liked school,
You’ll love work”, I’d say,
When the inevitable questions came.
And: “Attempts to alleviate the conditions of the slave,
Ultimately benefit the slave master”,
Barely able to articulate
Why this might be the case,
Or remember what I was quoting,
But imagining it to be devastatingly clever,
So, saying it anyway.

When the first obvious challenge came,
I’d ask, “How much does this company make?
Why not just choose a charity and give generously?”
And then triumphantly swagger away.
And then, I’d say,
“Then there’s the putrid, pitiful idea
That I should pay
To dress my own way”, I’d say
As if it’s a privilege to do that
For one day.”

And if I couldn’t think of what to say myself
– Not Bloody Likely –
I’d quote: “Charity is the fastest way to accumulate wealth.”

Of the first one to take me to task, I’d ask:
“Do we really need to be told how to dress?
Apparently, Yes – except for this one day,
When we pretend to care about AIDS
Or whatever.
When we’re only guilt-tripped into it,
When there’s a trade-off
And for this show of caring
For our fellow humans,
We get to dress up like adults
For one day.
And, presumably, from a quick scan of the room,
Being an adult is optional.”

I had it all planned in my head
I would wield my opinions like a mighty sword;
I would be righteously angry, well read.
And then I’d spend late morning
In the after-glow of the chastised bafflement
On the faces of co-workers.
And that would see me through
At least until lunchtime, when I
Would stride across the office, and out into the world
In my three-piece suit.

And I don’t mind,
Because I am well-developed
In the part of the brain
Which is trained to distinguish
Between what is important
And what is, after all
Some trifling bullshit.
(Dress Down Day)

And I am still young enough
To remember school,
And “What you wearing on non-uniform day?”
And thinking how silly girls were
To care so much about clothes
And then thinking I could make a stand,
Stand out and be different,
(As was my fervent wish)
But only with clothes
Only with clothes.
And how I could fit in,
(As was my fervent wish,)
How I could do all this, and be liked,
And fit in.
But only with clothes.
I’d probably be invited to parties then
And there’d be girls there,
That would entice me and scare me
But, oh no, wait a fucking minute –
I’m not in school anymore
And that would be what’s known in stand-up comedy
As a call-back
To my earlier references to school.
(“And that’s one of the many things that makes me
Better than you.
Others include:
My taste and erudition, my wide reading
And the fact that I’ve rocked up
On Dress Down Day
Dressed much smarter
Than I would
On any other day.”
Because I’m so fucking cool.)

I had it all planned,
Exactly what I’d say
And then I sat there,
In my three-piece suit
And I made my point
And I didn’t save
Anyone with AIDS
And nobody asked me anything.
And I didn’t say anything
To anyone
All day.

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