A Bird in a Cage Making Minimum Wage

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Try this on your piano:

It was at a drive-through I met her—
She caught me quite by surprise;
Her voice through the speaker came lilting
As I ordered burgers and fries;
I wouldn’t have normally noticed
But something about her seemed strange—
She seemed too well-bred for this venture
As she tendered my exact change:

She’s a bird in a cage
Making minimum wage—
Only four thirty-five an hour;
Thoughts of burgers and fries
Bring tears to the eyes
Of this grease-spattered, underpaid flower;
She drives an old car,
And her VCR
Is not cable-ready, ’tis true—
But not even when
She says, “Thanks! Come again!”
Does she dare reveal that she’s blue.

I started to order there often—
Only to hear her sweet voice
To urge me when I hesitated
“I ain’t got all day—Make your choice!”
And then one dark day I drove through there
To find that my Sunshine had fled;
Heartbroken, I asked the new person
Where she was, and here’s what he said:

“She’s not here in this cage
Making minimum wage—
She quit and moved in with her folks;
They paid her tuition
Upon one condition—
That she step out of doors when she smokes;
She’s in her old room
’Til something should loom
That uses her arts degree best;
So she’s out of this cage,
Full of ill-suppressed rage
At being stuck back in the nest.”
—Andy Senior (6/25/1997)


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