Problem: Lights are out.
1. Open the nearest door and slowly recite “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet: and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off–then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
2. Chant the “Invocation to Broccoli” (in German or Greek, if at all possible).
3. Page Carol, Wellness, Grocery, Tracy, Glenn, Barbara and Mark ALL AT THE SAME TIME and see what happens.
Problem: “Clapping” sound coming from wet case.
1. Create a makeshift wand from lemongrass or burdock root and wave it over the problem area.
2. Take Glenn to lunch at the deli and explain the problem clearly and calmly while packing sesame noodles or tofu salad (your choice) into the pockets of your official yet unattractive “Coop” vest.
3. Try stuffing all the recyclable cardboard until the sink.
Problem: Water collecting on floor around case.
1. Approach the first customer you see pushing a cart containing a small baby and a bunch of bananas, and tell him/her “the sky is falling.”
2. Call Alberts and order five cases of overripe bananas.
3. Steal a hat, any hat, put it on your head, and stalk menacingly out the front door.
Problem: Labels are not feeding properly.
1.Sit down immediately, on the floor if necessary, and write a letter to your congressperson.
2. Put a “Best of Barry Manilow” CD in the machine and turn it up to the maximum setting.
3. Form a conga line with as many customers as you can grab and wend your way through the store, singing something everyone knows, such as “Happy Holidays” or “Nessun Dorma,” or possibly “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General.”
Problem: Printer is not responding to commands.
1. Page “Wellness.”
2. Collect all the markers and rolls of masking tape, place them in a tote with a “FREE” sign on it. Carry the tote out into the parking lot and leave it there.
3. Gather in the cooler and sing “The Tunafish Song.”
4. Build a barricade of totes around the picnic tables in front of the store.
Problem: Temperature is above 45 or below 35 in case for more than one reading.
1. Send a fax to your mother.
2. Grab a small child and weigh it on the scale, being sure to enter the “local organic baby yellow and/or green beans from hell” PLU first.
3. Same as 1st solution for “clapping” noise.
This isn’t really a poem, of course. The “problems” are actual problems that arise in the Produce Department at the food coop where I volunteer. The solutions are just silly.