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My father walks through the scrub, a shortcut, to get to Walmart

where he meets up with his friends for coffee on Friday afternoons.

He says teenagers are always hanging around back there, barbequing

something.  I’m assuming my father has never smelled pot

and that’s what he’s smelling now, so I say, Dad, stick to the streets,

because I am afraid for him, even though these kids

are probably mellow from weed.  My father, 80, says

there are too many zooming cars on the road, and besides,

he likes the pond, the wildflowers that will probably be gone

when the plaza expands to a Super Walmart next year.

I want to make sure the teenagers don’t rob my father for his two dollars,

the way they robbed my father-in-law right in the Albertson’s bathroom,

pushing him into the white tiled wall while he was at the urinal,

then fleeing with his wallet.  It took my father-in-law a long time to get up

and regain his balance.  It took him a long time to replace

his credit cards and ID.  He was 90 by then.  My husband said,

Can’t you catch these kids on the surveillance camera?

The manager was lazy and said the supermarket wasn’t responsible.

My husband said, No one is saying the supermarket is responsible—

we just want an arrest so these kids can’t mug anyone else.

My father-in-law filled out a police report,

his provisions idle in the silver cart.

When the supermarket wanted my father to retire,

they sent him to get the carts in the rain.  Though there was a union

to protect wages, employees had no fixed assignments. 

Having meat men suddenly clean bathrooms or produce men

suddenly wash floors was one way management

could humiliate older workers enough to make them leave.

A grown man doing the work a teenager could.

A grown man working 40 hours a week, eating up

the supermarket’s profits with his benefits.  A teenager was warm inside,

part-time, bagging, flirting with the cashier, maybe laughing

at my father because my father wasn’t the teenager’s father.

That would have been a different story all together.