It's 3:42am and I can't sleep. Lately, I've been stressed more than usual about my life. At one point, I thought things were headed in the right direction, but that was quickly dashed when I lost the night time job that I'd gotten at a local call center. But, just like anyone else in this life, I've got to brush myself off and get back on that horse. But, I know that I need to work through my thoughts about this situation, and the best place for me to do is it here, where my thoughts and feelings get as much validity as I give them.
Well, training started two weeks ago, on a Tuesday. The day before we had orientation, and even that was a sign that things were not quite right with this job, but I ignored my instincts because I felt I had something to prove. Not to myself, but to certain people in my life that I believe don't think I am CAPABLE of keeping a job. So, I started training and every day tried to find something positive to keep in my mind about the job. The only thing I could really think of consistently was the fact that it was better than having no job at all. Yeah, I know... that kinda sucks as a motivator, but when that's all you've got you have to go with it.
During the two weeks of training, we learned about the sales strategy they use there, and also about the product and billing systems we were to use daily at the job. Honestly, the information wasn't hard to understand or retain, but during the first week I came to realize that my level of intelligence is really not found that commonly among people. Instead of letting that get me down, which it started to, I decided to play on my strengths and keep going forward knowing that if I learned the information to the best of my ability, I'd have a head start on my coworkers, or as I saw them, my competition.
During the first or second day of training, I waited for a break and asked to speak to our trainer privately. Knowing myself, I had a little chat with him about me and my personality. I told him that I'm not always the easiest person to get along with, and even though I'm 31, I haven't had very many experiences where I was around people who were not just like me... middle class, Black, college educated, etc... I thought that giving him a heads up about what to look for with me would help me make sure that I wasn't making any comments or statements that would offend or upset anyone. Well, that didn't quite work out the way I thought it would.
Let's fast forward to Wednesday of this past week. We're there....some late as usual. We'd started learning the second billing system because our certification day was the next day, Thursday morning. In typical call center fashion, a young girl in the front of the class asked our trainer if he had "fixed our time". What she was referring to was the timekeeper login that we log in and out of every day when we get to work and go on and come back from our breaks, as well as log out at the end of the night. Now, this is a question that I and everyone else had heard at least two dozen times in that short period of about 7 days. Needless to say, it drove me crazy. Why? Well, our trainer told us on day one of training that we should log in and out to get used to how we'd have to do it when we made it to the floor for live calls, and he also told us that he puts our names and times on a spreadsheet and emails them each and every night so that we are paid on time and correctly. Maybe I was the only one who heard this the six or seven times he'd stated it, but this time it really struck a nerve with me. So, I spoke out, loud enough for the young girl and everyone to hear me. "Mr Ford already told us that he will fix the time when he has time to do it, but if you are here on time and back from break on time, there should be nothing to fix." Why the fuck did I say that? All of a sudden, this seemingly nice little girl, dressed nicely with braids all up in a bun, got all ratchet on me. It took me by surprise honestly, but it didn't subside with just that comment. She continued talking, rolling eyes, and telling me that she wasn't talking to me. Well, I can't honestly say that I remember what I said to her after that, but I know it wasn't nice. A few seconds after that, she jumps up out of her seat in the front row, and walks back to my seat at the end of the back row, still cursing me and breaking bad. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I don't take kindly to provocations, especially by ignorant ass females. But, instead of allowing my emotions to rule my life, I decided to be RATIONAL. I stayed in my seat and allowed her to show how ignorant and foolish she was, which ended in her throwing a trash can at my head, with bad aim I might ad because it soared over me and hit the window behind my row.
By this time, the training class is in an uproar, and a few people from outside in the hallway found their way into the classroom as well. I was LIVID by this time and didn't really want to talk to anyone. So I pack my things and I tell my trainer that I feel threatened and I need to leave. I go take my things to the car, and remember that I left my cell phone in the room, plugged up next to the trainer's desk. I walk back in and get it, not saying a word to anyone. When I get back outside, I call my mom and vent to her about what had just happened. I talked to her for a few minutes, allowed her to calm me down as only my mother can do, and stuck around to talk to my trainer about what happened and what was going to happen moving forward.
To my surprised, this nigga blames the situation on me. Saying that I should have never commented on her question and that all throughout the training class, I was very rude and had a smart mouth towards people who might not have been able to always get the right answer. Now, wait.... isn't this exactly what the fuck I asked him to pull me aside if there was a problem? So why am I just hearing about this now and not when it happened?
Anyway, he told me that she was gone, there was no recourse for her because she threw the trash can at me, but that he'd have to talk to management the next morning about me and he'd call me when he found something out.
Of course, no call, so I go up to the job the next afternoon and find the trainer. We walk outside and he gives me the bad news. I wasn't surprised. I very rarely believe anyone who claims they'll fight for me but at the same time tells me that "People perceive that you think you are better than them." WHAT THE FUCK? How in the hell can people who don't know me be justified in assuming that I think I'm better than them? I don't even know them to know whether I'm better than them, and even if I did, that's not something I do. Now, if they feel inferior, that's a problem they need to take up with their God, not with me.
The loss of that job has bothered me for these past few days. But what I'm more bothered by is how people tend to judge me when they know nothing of me other than what they hear and see, and all they hear and see is a well-spoken and well-dressed southern gentleman. Anything that you find out about me after an initial meeting, is only because I tell you. So for them to feel that way, only shows their ignorance and their lack of confidence in themselves.
Now, I find myself back at square one. Well, not exactly back at square one, but further back than I'd planned. I still have my daytime job, which I absolutely love. It's not a lot of money, but the experience and the company I work for make me feel like I'm a good fit there. My boss lady gives me things to do, and doesn't micro-manage how I get them done. I don't have any set number of hours that I have to be at work, I just have to make sure my tasks are completed. And I feel like I'm actually contributing to the business, not just another ass in a seat. She has even told me that she plans to train me for other aspects of her companies so that I can take on more responsibility and make her job easier, translating into more pay and more experience for me. I like that.
In this situation, I did what I knew to do... I WALKED AWAY. If that's not enough for people, I can't make them happy. And if the only position I can play as an educated Black man, from a middle class family, is to be a silent bump on a log in the corner... then I'll have to upset even more people in the future because shutting up isn't something I plan on doing much of in my life.
My parents taught me that it's not always what you say, but how you say it that makes a difference in how people receive what you are talking about. I have taken those lessons to heart and I try very had to choose my words carefully as not to upset or offend anyone, especially at work. But if the problem is that I'm not the typical ignorant, non-spelling, small word using, nigga that people are used to dealing with and comfortable, then there's nothing I can do. I cannot go unlearn everything that I've learned in my life, an even if I could I wouldn't. My advice to them, educate yourselves and learn to live in a space other than in the comfort of ignorance.
I know that the way I might might not rub some folk in the right way, but clearly those are not the people I need to surround myself by. I'm not saying that I'm perfect but I am saying that I will not change the things that make me uniquely ME, just to make someone else happy. If I spent my life pleasing the people at the bottom, I would have never graduated from Norcom with honors, I would have never attended Fisk University or graduated from Norfolk State. Again, I'm not saying that I'm better than anyone, but the standards that I've set for MYSELF are a little different. My goals in life are not to be able to buy all the new Jordans... I'd rather have a library named after me at one of my alma maters. I'd rather be able to send kids to college through a foundation that I establish, or to give lectures to students who will take my words and put them into action in each of their lives. Those are the types of things I want to be able to do with my life. Material things come and go, and I've had my share of them. I'm more concerned about and excited by the possibilities that my future brings in the areas of being able to bring awareness to others about things in life that matter, not the bullshit that doesn't.
I'm so far from perfect, and that's why it upsets me when people make assumptions about me that couldn't be further from the truth. If people want to make assumptions, I'd rather they assume that I have a big dick. If people want to assume, I'd rather they assume that I like vintage labels. If people want to assume, let them assume that I can out think, out speak and out write them any day of the week. Assume that! But please, don't assume that I think I'm better than you. That is an insult to my family, the farmers and sharecroppers, truck drivers, war veterans and domestics who all came before me to give me the opportunities that I've taken full advantage of in my life. I am who I am, because they were who they were. So, if you're going to hate anything, hate them, not me. But, even to do that would serve no purpose because hating someone else only takes away from the quality of your own life.
Today, I choose to win. By win, I mean I choose not to allow the low murmur of naysayers to keep me from what my heart knows is my destiny. I choose not to stoop to the level of people who have no options in how they express themselves, and instead end up having nothing but negativity to spew out to the world. Today, I will honor my grandmothers, Millie, Ruth, and Mary, by walking with the dignity that I saw them live with each and every day. I will honor my Uncle Buster and the men in my family by working smarter and not harder, because they've already done that for me so that I could earn an education to get me further along than they were able to go. I will honor my Aunt Bert, by being a respectful young gentleman, and showing the world that even when things don't go my way, I can and will always carry myself with sophistication and class, just like she taught me and showed me. I will honor my friends and family in my hometown of Portsmouth, VA, by keeping my head held high in all instances, by never giving up or cheating myself out of a hard earned win, and by representing my people in the best way possible.
I still can't sleep, but at least I feel a little better now that I know my insomnia wasn't all in vain. Without it, I probably never would have wrote this. I hope this helps someone out there, and if not, I at least hope you had a great time reading it. Please comment and tell me what you think...