Commentary / Mental Illness / personal / Race

When You Can’t Sit in the Front of the Bus

I’m often frustrated by the rules I have to follow as a black woman in a world catered to white people, but now I feel like a line has been crossed and it almost sent me over the edge.

On Friday morning my boss and my new manager pulled me into my boss’s office to have a chat with me. I was nervous from the get go because office chats with my boss are rarely positive. After the lights were on and the doors were shut my boss proceeded to tell me that it had come to her attention that I was sitting in a certain area of the office during my lunches. The associate who brought this to her attention also told her that I sometimes even had a blanket with me (not true, though I occasionally laid my coat over my legs because the area I sat in was really cold), and that I was often sleeping (which had been true at a point in time, but it’s been months since I’ve napped during my UNPAID lunch period at work). What is actually true is that I sit with my iPad at lunch and work (I have a job I do from home as well). I almost never have food with me, I stopped bringing my coat up to cover my legs, I don’t put my feet up, nothing like that. But apparently I’m not supposed to sit in “client facing areas”.

I’m not a full employee at the company I work at. I’m an employee of a company that has been hired to do some of their office service jobs for them (mail, copy jobs, records management, etc). Because of this, I guess I have the rights of a leper in this office.

There are two things that really frustrate me about this situation. The first is that someone was so offended by one of the outsource people sitting on their floor, in a sitting area that is almost never used, that they felt the need to tell my boss and get me in trouble for it. And this is a company whose employees act like they’re so busy all the time that they can’t even un-jam their own staplers(not kidding, this happens all the time). The second thing that really upsets me about this is that I was never told that I wasn’t supposed to sit on that floor. It’s not as though I had been told and then refused to listen to the warning, which would have validated the chastisement. Nope, I was just never told. In fact, I was told that I could sit in the mezzanine areas, which I where I was sitting. I even had one of the company bigwigs approach me and tell me how nice it was to see someone using the sitting area that in most other occasions sat empty.

The whole talking to left a bad taste in my mouth. I went home Friday night and started drinking and popping Klonopin to make my chest stop aching. I felt less than human, and completely unworthy of occupying space in the world. I was sobbing and feeling sorry for myself, which sounds stupid, but it was honestly out of my control. A feeling sat in the pit of my stomach that I should just pull out my stockpile of anti-anxiety and sleeping medications and wash them down with the last beer in my fridge, but I didn’t. A friend of mine came over and stayed the night with me, which made me feel better.

Admittedly, I do still feel a bit shit, knowing I have to go back to this place and wait on these people again tomorrow. But it’s a paycheck, and sometimes, as a black woman in a society that caters to white people, you just gotta stay grateful, best revenge is your paper. ♥︎M

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