I stood there, looking at the cashiers. I could see them all starting to whisper, having their secret conversations about my failure with the customers As I stared at the floor, I knew I couldn’t take no for an answer. I wasn’t about to kowtow to Alan! Who was he to say that I couldn’t have the job? Then, as if God himself heard my cry, Kelly Clarkston came over the PA;
“. . . What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,
Stand a little taller,
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone”
Fuck Zahira Reagan! This store was mine, not hers! I turned around and marched back into the office, swinging the door open.
Nancy must have been on her way out because the door caught her square in the face!
“Oh Nancy! You have to be more careful!”
She glared at me as if I owed her an apology. Hmmph! Her fat ass shouldn’t have been behind the door! Knowing Nancy, she was probably on her way to get some more pastries! At any rate, I motioned over one of the cashiers to help the situation.
“Cresha, can you assist Ms. Higginbotham please?”
The young employee nodded her head as she led Nancy away. Old girl started to cry as she waddled past me. I closed the door and turned my venom toward Alan.
“I can’t believe you, of all people!
The regional director looked up, unphased by my remark.
“Ms. Bailey, what are you referring to?
“Alan, cut the shit okay? It’s just you and me in here! You can drop the corporate act!”
As he removed his brown rimmed spectacles, Alan replied,
“Okay Joan, what seems to be the problem this week?”
“The problem is why you’re not pushing the paperwork through to make me store manager? I deserve it!”
Confusion was scribbled all over Alan’s face.
“You deserve to be the store manager? How do you figure?”
“Because you owe me! I’ve been in these trenches, working hard under that, that, man!”
“So I owe you for that?”
“Look Joan, just because you’re married to my brother doesn’t mean I owe you. I already did you a favor by hiring you here in the first place”
“You sent me a link to the website! I wouldn’t exactly call that helping out!”
Alan scratched his head while he eased back in his chair.
“Joan, Joan, Joan. How do you think you got the job of assistant manager? To be in your position, people normally have a degree or years in the industry before they can even apply. You barely finished high school!”
“I have experience”
“At what? Being a housewife? C’mon Joan! Let’s be honest with each other. I gave you a job because John said you needed something to do”
“Look, I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but John said that you needed something to focus your energy on after Kennedy passed. John thought by working again, you would have a purpose”
“Purpose huh? You sure it doesn’t have anything to do with that secretary he’s been sleeping with?”
“Honestly I don’t know what John does. That’s a matter between you and him. Even if there was truth to that, I still couldn’t make you manager”
“So all the hard work that I’ve done doesn’t put me in line for the promotion? Does this have anything to do with me being a woman?”
“Being a woman? Joan, are you serious?”
“I don’t know if you noticed, but Zahira is a woman”
“Is she? Kinda hard to tell with those manly features! Besides, she’s only here temporarily. Meanwhile, I have been the one here, running the store the entire time”
“Is that right?”
“The employees can tell you what I do”
“So they can tell me why this store is drastically over budget? Can they tell me why all your full time staff have a ton of overtime hours? Can they tell me why you have thirty-five staff on payroll but only work sixteen? Tell me Joan, do you want to take ownership for that?”
“I didn’t . . .”
“Like I said before, you’re not the one for this job. If it’s any reconciliation, I appreciate you encouraging Gina to make that report”
“Like you said before, It’s just us in here. I know you pushed that girl up to it”
“I didn’t put Gina up to anything! She came of her own accord”
“You do know that we review the information off the cameras, to corroborate the story that is told to us?”
“Yeah, but . . .”
“I saw you talking to Gina before she met with me and Nancy. Now Nancy may be naive, but I knew what was going down”
My heart fell, but Alan kept talking.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to mention it to my bosses. I’ve been looking for a way to dismiss Lewis. He was finding ways to make his quarterly bonuses even though his numbers were off. Plus he was a . . .”
“A nig . . .”
“A minority is the more appropriate term, Joan. The investigation gave me the leverage I desperately needed”
“So if I did all that, a proper thank you would be the advancement, right?”
“Did you not hear anything I said? You convinced a subordinate to lie for selfish gain. Did I mention that you’re not qualified?”
“I didn’t say that she lied, Alan. I convinced her not to be quiet about it”
“Regardless, it was for gain. If I wasn’t your brother in law, you would be fired right along with Lewis”
“But you don’t understand Alan, I made promises!”
“To who? Your plastic surgeon? Nice nose by the way”
“I made a promise to promote Gina, you dick!”
“Sorry sis, you didn’t have the right to do that”
“So what do I do? If I don’t promote her, she’s gonna tell my part in all of this”
“Nothing to tell unless it was a lie which you just said it wasn’t”
My face went to the ceiling then to the floor.
“Damn Joan, that’s low”
“I’m always having to bail you and John out of something! Tell me, does Ms. Holiday have the qualifications for the spot you promised her?”
“I think so, but . . .”
Just then, there was a knock on the door. Nancy entered the room with her now raccoon colored eyes. Before I could offer an apology, Alan pointed toward the door.
“That will be all Ms. Blakely. I’ll call you if any more information is needed”
WRITTEN BY THE WEDNESDAY GENTLEMAN