Poem: What the Personnel Handbooks Never Tell You

They leave a lot out of the personnel handbooks.
Dying for instance.
You can find funeral leave
but you can’t find dying.
You can’t find what to do
when a guy you’ve worked with since you both
were pups
looks you in the eye
and says something about hope and chemotherapy.
No phrases,
no triplicate forms,
no rating systems.
Seminars won’t do it
and it’s too late for a new policy on sabbaticals.

They don’t tell you about eye contact
and how easily it slips away
when a woman who lost a breast
says, ‘They didn’t get it all.’
You can find essays on motivation
but the business schools
don’t teach what the good manager says
to keep people taking up the slack
while someone steals a little more time
at the hospital.
There’s no help from those tapes
you pop into the player
while you drive or jog.
They’d never get the voice right.

And this poem won’t help either.
You just have to figure it out for yourself,
and don’t ever expect to do it well.

Jim Autry
Poem: What the Personnel Handbooks Never Tell You