It’s a gray day

The sky is one, large cloud

I watch a flock of pigeons from my window on the 17th floor

I look down on them

The space heater sizzles

I’m picturing Christmas

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 23 minutes

 

*

 

This morning I woke up and laid in bed and listened to music I used to listen to

I was searching for a feeling, some movement in my chest, but I felt nothing

I felt like everyone

I tried calling NBA League Pass Customer Support at 10:30 because I’m locked out of my account, but their call center doesn’t open until 11

I’m 31 years old

Next month, I’ll be 32

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 37 minutes

 

*

 

The washing machine says 25 MIN

25 minutes later, it says 6 MIN

Do the feelings we want to feel change?

A soft jazz version of “Can’t Buy Me Love” keeps me company

It’s interrupted by a calm, male voice thanking me for my patience

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 53 minutes

 

*

 

One time, when I was a kid, my mom came back from a business trip with dozens of Embassy Suites pens and notepads for my sister and I, who were delighted

She revealed them to us slowly, pulling them out of her suitcase one by one until the amount of pens and pads quit being exciting and started being a little embarrassing for her

I remember the way her face stretched apologizing

The pens and pads sat in drawers of various home offices throughout elementary school, high school, and college

And I remember throwing some away when we sold the house after my dad died

I know it’s dumb but I’ve always felt sentimental about things like fresh notebooks, untouched snow, having the house all to myself

The freedom… the pageantry…

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 1 hour and 19 minutes

 

*

 

In 5th grade, my friend Alex and I found a signed Shaquille O’Neal rap album at a record fair at the mall

It was signed “to Julie…” and we each spent $3 to own half of it, valuing Shaquille O’Neal’s signature at something closer to $100

We never listened to it; we ran back to his house and stashed it in the small safe he used to guard his valuables at that age

I’m pretty sure he still has it, let me text him

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 1 hour and 33 minutes

 

*

 

The first time we rode a public bus by ourselves, my friend Griffin tried to do a pull up on the cord used to request a stop and the cord snapped

The bus kept going

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 1 hour and 41 minutes

 

*

 

I played basketball at the highest level available to me until 8th grade

Then everyone grew and I didn’t, and that was pretty much a wrap

I mean, I wish I could blame “the end of my basketball career” solely on factors outside my control, like genetics, but the truth is my interest was waning

I had begun to find meaning in art and music

I was always too cerebral a player anyways

I was obsessed with making the right play—a beautiful backdoor pass to a cutter, for instance

And I would hold the ball, waiting for that beautiful moment to happen

Or point and scream when a teammate with the ball had not seen the beauty I had just seen

In my last game, I hit 10 3-pointers in the final quarter of a playoff game to rally our team back from a 20 point deficit, though we ultimately lost by 1

I was “on fire”

They double teamed me, triple teamed me

The opposing coach threw his clipboard to the ground

But there was no way to guard me because I had ceased to exist

I was my team, I was their team, I was the refs and all the parents in the stands

My teammates, who regarded me as more of a nuisance than anything, quiet and withdrawn as I was, had no idea what to make of it

They shook me and slapped my back during timeouts

That feeling—of perfect grace and equanimity—must be what we’re all searching for in this life

I could have kicked the ball in the basket

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 2 hours and 9 minutes

 

*

 

Why do poets love basketball so much?

It must have something to do with beauty, or anxiety

The way the body is bare, the face free of any hat or helmet

Poets love stuff like that…

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 2 hours and 15 minutes

 

*

 

A soft jazz version of “Little Lies” by Fleetwood Mac catches me off guard

My skin tingles—is this the feeling I want to feel?

No

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 2 hours and 33 minutes

 

*

 

The musical selection has been surprisingly varied, actually

I don’t think I’ve heard the same song twice

My girlfriend’s cousin’s boyfriend works in “audio branding” creating playlists like this and designing the sounds medical devices make

His clients give him detailed feedback on half-second beeps

I don’t think he likes it

Alex texted back—he still has the Shaq CD

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 2 hours and 37 minutes

 

*

 

I’ve started thinking “I’m the Kobe Bryant of remaining on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support”

But then I’m reminded by the calm, male voice that there are others ahead of me

There are always others ahead of me

Maybe I’m more like Keith Van Horn

I’ve been on hold for 2 hours and 59 minutes

 

*

 

I’ve finished the laundry, done the dishes, and cleaned the bathroom

The afternoon’s slipping into evening

The sun’s dipping below the clouds

Canceling coffee plans with a friend

Closing my eyes and focusing on the breath

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 3 hours and 21 minutes

 

*

 

I had a dream about my childhood dog, Nijinski, last night

And I realized that I almost never think about him

He wasn’t unfriendly, but he didn’t seem to enjoy our company unless we were giving him food or letting him out

I think he resented us for keeping him captive

He would escape from the yard at least two or three times a week, though he would always return

In the dream he was near the end of his life—blind, bloated, and scared

I think I’m worried that I’ll end up just like him—forgotten by those closest to me because I do things like cancel coffee plans to remain on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support

But I’ve come so far

It’s been 3 hours and 43 minutes

 

*

 

At 4 hours the call drops

I visit NBA.com where I’ve submitted multiple customer service inquiries over the past 2 days

I open up the chatbot feature, which I have not tried, and a robot named Aileen, which is my girlfriend’s sister’s name, unlocks my account within 5 minutes

I thank her and end the session and put on a Bulls game from three days ago whose outcome I already know

Andrew Weatherhead is the author of Cats and Dogs (Scrambler Books, 2014) and Todd (Monster House Press, 2018). He is from Wilmette, Illinois.

One response to “Poem While On Hold With NBA League Pass Customer Support”

  1. Alaya says:

    I enjoyed this. It reminds me of the David Shields book, Black Planet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *