problems in the checkout line

often in the supermarket checkout lines
the cashier will ask me,
“how are you doing?”
and often I’ll answer something
like, “not so good, I’ve got
hemorrhoids, insomnia and vertigo, also
the battery in my watch has

there’s never any response, it’s as if
they haven’t heard, they just go on
ringing up my purchases.

I am not attempting to project my
frustrations upon supermarket
but when they ask me,
“how are you doing?”
I’m usually not doing very
well and there’s nothing that
makes me feel worse
than to say,

I’ve tried it the other way.
when they ask,
“how are you going?”
I say, “god, it’s never been so
good! it’s unbelievable, the money’s
just rolling in!  I don’t understand

but they seem to dislike this one
more than the
hemorrhoid, insomnia, vertigo

so I’ve tried another way.
when they ask that same question
I say,
“you really don’t care.”

again there’s no response, they
just go on
ringing up my purchases
but I rather get their answer:
they really don’t care,
and I think that’s nice.
we all ought to know this, it’s
nothing to be ashamed of
and it makes the buying of
just about the same as
anything else:
all we need is what we want and
what we want
has very little to do
with anything

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript