The cleaning lady must have shredded your order.  My truck jack-knifed on the pass.  Thursday I’m getting my differential oil changed, then I’ll be delivering backorders all weekend.  Monday’s my helper’s day off.  Tuesday it’s supposed to rain and I lost my rain tarp on a run last week. Definitely next Wednesday before noon, if my helper doesn’t have to go to the doctor.  Thursday provided that I can find someone to watch my kids and get the hitch on my trailer adjusted otherwise I’ll have to find a U-Haul.   Definitely today if you can you pay me in cash.  Just as soon as I make a detour to pick up my elevator.  Rush hour might slow things down a few minutes. I’ve only got twenty-eight dollars to get home on, where’s your bank?  Sure, you could get there before closing.  I’ve got to get back to my kids; my wife took off to look for a job.  What if I come to your house, unhitch my trailer with your containers on it, and beeline your check to the bank before six? It doesn’t look like rain on this side of the mountains.  I thought we already talked about price; what’d I charge you last time?  Your cancelled check is proof of purchase; I don’t carry a receipt book.  The calculator app on my phone isn’t working.  How about if I give you a per cubic foot price and we tally it up as I unload. Can you pay me at least partly in cash? Whatever you have on hand would be perfect.  You’ll have to find me a screwdriver; I keep my change stashed inside the driver-side door of my truck.  The kids swipe everything smaller than a fifty.  If your bank closes and I have to wait until morning to cash your check; who will take care of my kids? Tomorrow before noon for sure, provided that I can get the hitch on my trailer adjusted otherwise I’ll have to find a U-Haul. The day after if my helper doesn’t have to go to the doctor. Definitely today if you can you pay me in cash.


from Blowing Smoke;  a Compendium of Everyday Excuses

 “Whoever wants to be a judge of human nature should study people’s excuses.”  Christian Friedrich Hebbel (1813-1863), German poet and dramatist


Jana Harris

Jana Harris teaches creative writing at the University of Washington and at the Writer’s Workshop in Seattle. She is editor and founder of Switched-on Gutenberg. Her most recent publications are You Haven’t Asked About My Wedding or What I Wore; Poems of Courtship on the American Frontier (University of Alaska Press) and the memoir, Horses Never Lie About Love (Simon & Schuster). Other poetry books include Oh How Can I Keep on Singing, Voices of Pioneer Women (Ontario); The Dust of Everyday Life, An Epic Poem of the Northwest (Sasquatch); and We Never Speak of It, Idaho-Wyoming Poems 1889-90 (Ontario ) all are available online from Open Road Press as are her two novels, Alaska (Harper & Row) and The Pearl of Ruby City (St. Martin’s). She lives with her husband on a farm in the Cascades.

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