Hey, how are you? Good morning. My you look great. That’s a nice top. Not everyone can get away with horizontal stripes but wow you sure can. Hey how about that World Cup? Isn’t that something? I love those shoes. Isn’t it a beautiful day? Oh I know it’s muggy and humid and about to start pouring at any minute, but hey! At least it’s not snowing!
That’s how I have to speak at work. I don’t have to, but it’s preferred. Apparently looking at someone sideways can be misconstrued as menacing. So I look at various people straight on, eyes forward. It’s an act, but an act that pays and it beats having to wear a banana costume handing out flyers on the street. It beats joining the armed forces and killing or being killed.
I do my usual do, just want to get through the day with as little stress as possible. I am more visible now, I say hi to everyone and smile smile smile though the day. The UPS guy, Isaiah is a Rasta and I slip into some patois when I see him. Today Isaiah was doing his rounds dropping off packages and we were chatting briefly when Felicia sidles up. Isaiah leaves and Felicia says, “You know, you should be more like how you are talking to the UPS guy”.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “You know, you just put out this positive energy when you were talking to him, you filled up the room with it.” Felicia replied, “You should do that more often.” I said, “Well I have been like that all day yesterday and today.” Brilliantly Felicia says, “Well now you’re being defensive.” Hmmm. That actually happened.
I was flustered by this and went out for a smoke and tried to call Bill at work. Got his voice mail so I called Juan instead. Juan couldn’t believe the fact that Felicia could say something to me like that, in the guise of constructive criticism and when I respond in kind, being kind it’s seen as defensive. I should never have gone through the looking glass.
I tried to spend the rest of the day under the radar. Smiling and shufflin’ along. I spent some time with a temp who’s been delegated to shredding files in the copy room. I helped her out making up some bankers boxes and told her she should ask to see if it would be alright to wear her headphones for her cd player while she was all alone in the back room.
She was wary, but she went ahead and asked and probably got the look of ‘go ahead. why the hell are you asking me?’ Her name is Shanelle and she fits in even less than I do. She’s black in an all white office. No really, the walls are white, the desks are white, the ceiling is white and the floors are white, and the people are very white. She laughed quietly at my joke when she said she never seen an all white office before. She laughed when I asked her what she meant.
If only Felicia was there. She could’ve told me to be more warm like I was with Shanelle. I admit, I made an extra effort to be warm to her, because she’s a temp and it’s nice to make someone’s experience somewhat pleasant. And I’m warm to her, because no one else would be. She’ll be gone by the end of the week and searching for a new job next week. She’s a good worker and will probably be picked up soon if there are intelligent headhunters out there.
I just remembered my first interview at McMann and Tate. I was of course, a few minutes early and was waiting for my interviewer. The next scheduled applicant after me came in early herself. She was nicely dressed, as I was in my suit and tie. ‘She’s probably a better receptionist than me’ I thought. She was a black woman about the same age as me. No way would she fit in with this crowd. They wouldn’t be able to deal with what I perceive to be a no nonsense attitude. How did I fall into it? Why did they pick me? I’m all nonsense.