Poetry by Hazel Tsoi-Wiles
I was in-between jobs, had in fact rarely worked.
I hung out online, where I chatted and lurked.
Nothing extreme, just retailers and fandoms,
I’d talk shit about TV with total randoms.
Sometimes I’d troll strangers, just out of boredom,
There was always someone to wind up on a forum.
One day, I was broke, feeling sorry and crap,
So I went looking for a new baseball cap.
A cap with a slogan that was clever and witty,
Just something to make my life feel less shitty.
I found a few good ones on one online shop,
And two hoodies, a t-shirt and a long sleeve top.
But, gosh! Oh, the prices! Such costly gear!
It made me cross that it was all so dear.
I went straight to their customer feedback board,
And let rip in the thread “PRICES NONE CAN AFFORD.”
There, nice, normal, hard-working folk,
Were all in agreement: it was a joke.
Thirty-six ninety-nine for a long-sleeve tee!
And it’s not as if postage and packing is free.
I joined in to say I found it outrageous;
I was anonymous, and therefore courageous.
Who did these designers think they were?
Were their hoodies lined with diamonds and fur?
I said I’d like to firebomb the warehouses,
And burn all their t-shirts and skateboarding trousers.
I would splash all their gear with acid and bleach,
If they thought their backpacks were worth fifty quid each.
Someone called KnightNice liked what I posted,
“I’ve got history in arson!” he proudly boasted.
“They’re taking the piss,” he said vehemently.
They weren’t thinking of normals, like him and me.
He thought we were alike, which really grated,
But I was broke and blue; I felt vindicated.
I had time to spare, and was mostly in bed,
So I checked out KnightNice in thread after thread.
He was on all the boards the shop ran online,
And he seemed to do nothing but bitch and whine.
He complained in his first ever post, of course,
About the t-shirt that said ‘Mars Police Force’.
He had ordered a large, got a small instead,
So he posted in all caps: I WANT YOU ALL DEAD.
He was offered a tote bag, with a ten percent saving.
He was really incensed, was seething and scathing,
KnightNice’s response was “I am quite hurt
That they offered a fag-bag and not a new shirt“.
I read on with amusement that turned to dismay,
As he went from disgruntled to “eggs make you gay.”
Apparently the oestrogen makes men soft.
I’ll admit I regretted the Scotch egg I’d scoffed.
KnightNice believed in a lot of weird things.
Like Shakespeare had written the Lord of the Rings,
Lizard people are real, breast cancer is fake,
Just a scam for “trash women on the take.”
He thought blacks had it better under apartheid.
Muslims, you know, want white genocide.
If child poverty’s real, why are kids overweight?
If Europe’s so good, why do they all emigrate?
Global warming’s not bad, helps population thin out.
He knew what road tax was really about.
His updates roamed wildly between shouting and shopping.
Mostly unmoderated, he went on without stopping.
Bags are too baggy, patches don’t patch,
The satchel catches don’t catch or match.
The t-shirts are tight, are they meant for homos?
What’s with the foreigners in the promos?
What would they sell next – hijabs, and face veils?
He warned multiculturalism would only hurt sales.
He said he wasn’t racist, how could he be?
When he was a “victim of diversity.”
I read on and on, it was fixating:
This man was a mess, and he was fascinating.
I read all of his posts in one riveting go,
Then he disappeared after two hundred or so.
I lost interest. Bought stuff from another store,
But one day was bored so I went back for more.
And I was delighted that KnightNice was back,
The miserable bastard had gotten the sack.
No job, no money, he went on and on.
He’d had it so easy but didn’t know till he’d gone.
Why had his life become so rotten?
There were some replies but he was mostly forgotten.
He’d made a poor choice to share all his hurts
With a shop’s message board for novelty t-shirts.
It was such bitter pleasure, I felt secretly glad
That this pig was suffering and so sad.
Now all of his updates were self-pitying shite.
He liked the n-word, and I thought, serves him right!
In a classic display of anger displacement,
He focused on hating his old job’s replacement.
Former workmates said a woman was hired,
And she made it clear why he had been fired.
She had degrees, was younger and smarter,
They said, unlike him, she was a self-starter.
He could never go back to his former employer,
He declared to the board that he would destroy her.
I read all his posts, he was a full-blown loon.
A madman who ate glue with a spoon.
He thought he was smart, knew what was what.
Said, he was a real man, and not a robot.
He knew all the truths and wasn’t a sheep;
He felt sorry for us whose brains were asleep.
KnightNice had theories about why he was sacked:
He was too good at his job, so his boss attacked.
And the woman who got his job so quickly?
KnightNice laid out his thoughts thickly:
She was part of a plot, a conspiracy,
To imbue him with falsified inadequacy.
He was actually decent, and clever, and great.
Without her scheming, he’d be first rate.
His ego was bruised, his pride was frail.
He thought it the end of the modern male.
It was pathetic, but I left it alone
Because I was offered a job on the phone!
A call out of nowhere, for a post room assistant
The recruiter was keen and very persistent.
I didn’t fancy it, said, I’d give it some thought,
But the thought of KnightNice pulled me up short.
There was a guy with every chance to do well,
Choosing instead to make his own life hell.
I would be different, I would do better
I would go to the interview, I would be a go-getter.
The job might be rubbish, I might be bored to tears
But I’d give it a go, and quit after two years.
It was a nice office, but there was a lot going on.
No one met me until my slot had long gone.
That was annoying, I thought that was rude.
But I held on and waited, my ambition renewed.
I’d make this work, I’d be good in the role.
I was my own master, I was in control.
Then the prettiest woman that I’ve ever met
Came over to ask if I’d been interviewed yet.
I stuttered and stammered, went red, said no
She patted my shoulder, said “Okay then, let’s go!”
I followed her, dazzled and awestruck and dumb.
She sat me in an office, said Sam would come.
I would ask her out, when this was all done,
We would make love, marry, have a son.
I saw it all in a second: ten, twenty years, more.
Then she and Sam came in through the door.
Sam was a woman, I noticed with a frown.
Then the woman I loved got a chair and sat down.
She was a director and would do the interview
Because Sam was in training and learning what to do.
She managed Sam, who would manage me
“Oh shit”, I thought, “I’m bottom of us three!”
The rest of the meeting went by in a blur
I was seething and raging inside about her.
The love of my life was my boss’s boss –
I couldn’t have that, and it seemed such a loss.
I fucked up the interview, showed I had no skills.
The looks they exchanged gave me the chills;
It hurt – I was just another job-seeking loser,
It stung – I was so small, I didn’t even amuse her.
I stomped home angry, unemployed, heartbroken
This was the hurt men kept unspoken.
Rejected by women in all sorts of ways
Perhaps KnightNice was right: it was our end of days.