Museum Musings: because it’s Poetry month…

We try to be helpful

                                  by Rosanne Freed

 every day I stand at my cash register 

watching tourists crowd into the museum store: 

school groups name tags on their chests,

the ladies in purple and their obligatory red hats,

Ozzie’s Brits and Euros who don’t know our money

and offer me palms full of coins,

folks who want separate bags for each postcard

each magnet,

celebrities whom I can’t acknowledge –

if Angela Merkel, Isabella Rosselini, or Ben Kingsley stand before me

I must not recognize them


Worked the busiest register today.

The visitors had the usual questions:

where’s the restroom

do you sell headache tablets

candy, gum, stamps, shot glasses, spoons, suntan-lotion?

and a middle-aged man asked, “Do you sell motor oil?”  

“There’s a gas station at the bottom of the hill,”

Elizabeth told him.

We try to be helpful.


After my morning coffee break I said

“Where’s everyone? Why’s it so empty?”

as a French tourist at my register asked, 

“Is it always so busy here…?”


Around noon, three groups arrived at the same time:

a busload of YMCA kids in yellow tee-shirts  

each with a dollar to spend,

200 people doing a computer course at the museum

(something on scanning I think they said)

and a class of 11-year-olds uniformed in their private school gray,

Alexandra, Taylor, Cayman, and Kyle paid with $20 bills,

Race, a blond boy with big ears told me, “Keep the change.”


there were line-ups at all four registers

and still more people poured in

pushing strollers, wheelchairs, walkers, and dragging oxygen tanks

the store was so crowded it was impossible to move.

“Are they still doing tours at Hearst Castle?”

a 20-something American guy in a baseball cap asked. 

“I’m sorry Sir, I don’t know what they do there.

We’re in Los Angeles.

Hearst Castle is several hundred miles up the coast.”

“Its all in California,” he said impatiently.


Twin girls Takeisha and Danisha

bought “mood” pencils

stared when I gave their change  

“Where did you get your voice?”  they asked 

“Have you heard someone talk like me before?” I said

“Yes. In Harry Potter.”


at the Register next to me, H- asked a young couple

“Do you say ‘Tak’ or ‘Dank’?”

“Excuse me?” the man said

“How do you say ‘thank you’ in your language?”

“We bloody say thank you.  We’re Irish!”


“Do you work here?” an old lady asked me.

“Can I ask you a question?

Last time I was in Jerusalem I went on a walking tour

and we saw two cemeteries.

Could you explain the difference to me?”


We try to be helpful.

About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
This entry was posted in America, Museum Musings, Poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Museum Musings: because it’s Poetry month…

  1. linda rena goluboff says:

    wondering rose,
    i absolutely love this last magic of questions asked of you at your place of work. rankly, i find it to be kinda fun with all these interesting people and all their questions and your all so amazing way of answering their questions. you are the best of everything.

  2. Josee says:

    i see i’ve been pre-empted (Comment#1)
    – your writing’s so engaging that you DO make your job sound like it’s a lotta fun…?!!

  3. dearrosie says:

    Thank you Linda and Josee.
    It’s good to know that (a) I’m not talking to myself, and (b) there are people out there who read this blog, and (c) enjoy what I say.

  4. Mahalia says:

    “like”, as they say on facebook. i _do_ like this piece. thanks for sharing it. sooo funny. and true, but hard to believe.

  5. Corilee says:

    omg i laughed, thanks so much 🙂

  6. Dinah says:

    This is such a wonderfully funny, perceptive, and thoroughly excellent poem!!! It’s not only well observed but masterfully written. You had me laughing before 8 a.m., and that’s really something. Thank you!

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