April 17, 2017

Lisa Badner

I HAD A WINDOW

I was a squatter
in hearing room 506.
The office was empty.
Claims for the space were under review, stalled
by state bureaucratic snarl.
I was bold, took what should be mine.
The other hearing officers were angry
that I—a transfer, of only a few months—
could see the outside.
They filed petitions to the bosses in Albany.
Those without windows did not speak to me,
even to say hello.
The friends of those without windows
did not speak to me,
even to say hello.
My requests for an ergonomic chair
were thwarted.
But I had a window.
I could see scaffolding.
The tops of city buses. The swirling
litter of downtown Brooklyn.
I could see weather.
I was elated.
Then the email circulated.
I was being moved
to a small windowless nook
in the back northwest corridor of the fourteenth floor.
And now, this is where I sit.
Over the HVAC. Under
the yellow asbestos-drenched tiles.
On my lopsided,
ill-fitted
ergonomic chair.

from Rattle #55, Spring 2017
Tribute to Civil Servants

[download audio]

__________

Lisa Badner: “I have worked for the government for much of the last twenty years, since I graduated from law school. I decided on a whim to take a class at The Writers Studio years ago out of sheer boredom from one of these government jobs. I then transferred to another civil servant job, which was not unionized, and was promptly fired. This was the best thing that ever happened for my writing, and at around the same time I began studying with Phil Schultz in the master class. Now I work by day for the New York State government as a hearing officer (also known as Administrative Law Judge). The humor and irony in this strange bureaucratic world inspires me.” (twitter)

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