The Phone Call
by James Tate
I sat on the steps for a very long time. No one passed, no cars went by.
It was as if the world had stopped. Then the mailman walked by. I was
so happy to see him I nearly jumped out of my pants. ‘Hi!’ I shouted to him.
‘Hello,’ he answered back. ‘How are you today?’ I said. ‘I’m just fine. How
are you?’ he said. ‘Well, I was a bit lonely until I saw you,’ I said.
‘There’s no reason to be lonely. There’s all the world to keep you company,
he said. ‘I guess you’re right,’ I said, as he disappeared down the block.
Then school got out and the streets were flooded with youngsters. They were
sweet and friendly. A while later work ended and the grown-ups came home. They
were exhausted and not so friendly, but, still, they reminded me that there
was a world out there. I sat on the steps all that time, thinking about
what a funny place we live in. Then I got up and went in the house. I had
lost my job at the oil refinery and was waiting to hear from several other
companies. I had some savings and wasn’t too worried. Jack called and
asked if I wanted to go hunting tomorrow. I said I’d like to but I had other
plans. Then Betsy called and asked if I wanted to go drinking tonight. I
said that sounded great, but I just couldn’t. I waited for the phone to ring
after that, but there was nothing. I played some crossword puzzles, then
watched television and fell asleep on the couch. I woke up in the morning
feeling achy and lost. I wasn’t sure where I was. It took me a few minutes
to figure it out. I was home, as always. I shaved and ate breakfast.
My mother called and I said I was just fine. It was a lie, of course, but
the truth would hurt her more. I wanted to go for a walk, but I was afraid
of missing a phone call. Finally the phone rang. The voice said, ‘Hello
my name is Mark Smith and I’d like to offer you a job as president of Prudential
Banks, the largest bank in America. Are you interested?’ ‘Well, yes, but
why me?’ I said. ‘We want someone with no experience and no ideas about
banking, and you seemed ideal,’ he said. ‘Why would you want someone like
that?’ I said. ‘We want to kill him,’ he said. ‘I don’t think I’m interested,’
I said. ‘It’s a great salary, nice vacations,’ he said. ‘No thanks,’ I
said, feeling relieved and very lucky to be just where I am.
for what you wish careful be bro
read this poem in Tate's Government Lake in September then I picked it up again this morning and it hit me in a different way if you know what I mean