Jitney Jungle – National Poetry Month – April 18th

April is National Poetry Month. I’m going to attempt to write one poem every day this month. Today’s poem: 18/30 for April 18th.

Jitney Jungle

It was my first job
After school

A cashier at the Jungle
Jitney Jungle #19
On McDowell Road
Jackson, Mississippi

— M I crooked letter crooked letter I crooked letter crooked letter I humpback humpback I —

My friend Karen and I
Gave it a theme song

— Welcome to the jungle, we got fun and games – Guns N’ Roses —

Customer service was important
Thorough training received —
How to properly bag Make a square inside the bag,
items on bottom,
on top

Best way to great customers
“How are you today?
Did you find everything you needed?”
Being fast at ringing the groceries — encouraged

Excelling at all of the above
Was rewarded
You better believe I received
One of these awards

Regular customers
I knew their name
They knew my name
We knew a bit about each other
These customers waited in my line
Even at times when my lane was longer
Offered to go to another lane
They respond,
“No thanks.”
They want to stay in my lane

Promoted to bookkeeper
Managed the front end
Rented movies
Approved checks
Maintained the returned checks binder

— bounced —

In charge of breaks for cashiers and baggers
Open an extra check stand when needed

Moving the customers through the check-out lanes
Quickly was crucial
Money to cashiers when needed

— Rolls of quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies
Stacks of 1’s, 5’s, 10’s, 20’s —

Balanced tills at the end of the night
Ready deposits for the armored truck

Make the

“store is closing in 10 minutes”


Locked the safe
Locked the doors

Some of us became good friends
Some of us were like family

My friend Karen’s house was nearby
The house was never locked
I could stop by anytime
Whether anyone was home or not
Have a nap
Borrow some of Karen’s clothes
Grab a bite to eat

Get off work on a Friday or Saturday night
Start the car

{I had 3 different cars during my four years at the Jungle —
a green convertible fiat
A 1980 dark blue firebird
A 1988 red chevrolet beretta}

Crank the music
Roll down the windows

— before electric —

Put the top down
Roll onto McDowell Road
Time for some cruising
That was THE THING to do

Drive from one end of McDowell Road to the other
Music blaring
See people you know — honk and wave
Turn around in the Sonic parking lot at one end of McDowell Road
Turn around in the bowling alley parking lot at the other end

The time when I made the decision
To leave Mississippi behind
Watch her disappear in my rearview mirror

I headed West,
then north
Landing in Seattle, Washington

— Rains a lot, very green, lots of trees, rains a lot —

My co-workers at The Jungle
Got me a cake
We said our goodbyes
Some tears were shed
Many hugs were shared
A load of photos were taken

I have the photos
They’re in my garage
I have the customer service award pin
It’s in a wooden chest
In my closet

— My Aunt Mary gave me the wooden chest. She gave all her nieces one —

I have my red vest
It’s in a box
In my garage

Memories I cherish
Jitney Jungle #19
McDowell Road
Jackson, Mississippi

Welcome to the Jungle

Camilla Downs, 2024

Prompt: Write a poem set in or about a location most posts don’t devote much attention to. Write a poem about or located in a grocery store.

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