“Brian, I need to see you in my office for a moment,” Mrs. Dandridge said.
“I’m busy, can’t this wait?” Brian groaned, as he breathed into the receiver. He knew why the head broad in charge had summoned him and was not looking forward to talking to her.
“No, this cannot wait, Mr. Sims. It is imperative that we discuss some things that have come to my attention.”
“I’ll be there in a minute.” Cocky bitch.
Brian took his time walking to his supervisor’s office. Passing his co-workers, Cherie Rice and Kandy Glass, who were busy discussing how Kandy had straightened out some woman who’d come on to her boyfriend the night before; Brian noticed Kandy’s raised middle finger
pointed unmistakably in his direction. He rolled his eyes and continued on his way.
“Brian, it is my understanding that you seem to be having difficulty getting along with
some of your co-workers. Can you enlighten me on the specifics of your conflict?” Mrs.
Dandridge asked when Brian sat in the chair in front of her desk.
“What seems to be the problem, Brian?”
“The problem is those silly little girls who sit across from me. I can hardly concentrate on my work with them giggling and carrying on all the time.”
“Well, my sources tell me that you are missing from your cubicle for most of the day, deeming it impossible for anyone to disturb you.”
“I have to leave to clear my head. I can’t stand to hear their annoying voices more than thirty minutes at a time.”
“Why haven’t you come to me about this?”
“You’re always in some meeting when they get started. One of them made an obscene gesture to me on my way here.”
“You’re kidding; I want you to write up a statement so that I can give it to Mr. Bentley.”
“You’re not going to do anything about it.”
“Brian, it is my job to see to it that my department is productive and that there is no disruptive behavior among my employees. Now, get that statement back to me as soon as you can and I’ll let you know what comes of it.”
They’re trying to force me into retirement, but I’ll leave when I’m good and damn ready,
Brian thought, glaring in Kandy and Cherie’s direction. When he reached his cubicle, Brian could feel the cackling hens staring at the back of his head. He heard them suppress a few giggles then return to their never ending babble. “It must be break time,” he said to himself, but loud enough for the young women to hear.
“Who he talking to?” Kandy asked.
“I don’t know. I know his crazy ass ain’t talking to me,” Cherie answered.
“Go to the break room if it’s your break time. If I was the boss, I would show y’all how to run this place,” Brian said.
“Girl, I think brain damaged Brian is talking to us. He ain’t nobody’s boss,” Kandy said, putting her hand on her hip.
“You hear that nut case? You ain’t the boss of nobody ‘round here,” Cherie said.
Brian didn’t respond. He sat in his chair and put on his headphones, turning up his music as high as he could stand in an attempt to tune out the insolent floozies.
Brian seldom ate lunch; instead he combined that time with his two fifteen-minute breaks and takes a vigorous walk around the parking lot. He had been a boxer in the military (before being dishonorably discharged) so sometimes he was seen walking backwards down a hill, jabbing his fists into the air. Brian had heard the remarks about him being a terrorist getting ready to attack, but instead of being offended, he found it rather amusing. It made him feel good that most of his co-workers seemed to fear him.
After Brian finished his workouts, he never saw a need to change clothes nor take a shower. He would just walk around for the rest of the day in his smelly, sweat-stained clothes,
daring someone to complain about the stench. There were comments made about Brian’s hygiene, but were mostly said behind his back. No one knew that he had heard the remarks when he would walk down the aisle outside of work area and stand by the wall of a few of his co-workers cubicles. This was how he found out that his unit, along with the department manager, Mr. Bentley, was trying to oust him from the area. Brian had been insulted at first, but then realized that it was a blessing in disguise. Instead of being pushed into leaving my job I’ll
just be relocated to another unit, away from the dingbats. Good!
Brian came to the realization that he could speed up the process of his move if he took his anti-social antics up a notch. So he began documenting the break and lunch times of his nemeses, Kandy and Cherie, noting the fact that they usually turned thirty-minute lunches into two hour outings. He would then go to Mrs. Dandridge and inform her of the young women’s transgressions. But that stunt had only forced them into using personal leave to make up for the extra long breaks instead of getting them written up. It had also gotten Brian a tongue-lashing from Mrs. Damnbitch, telling him that he was to mind his own business and that what others did, and for how long they did it, was none of his concern. Of course Brian didn’t heed the warning, and went a step further in his shenanigans.
Intimidation had always been his strong suit, so whenever Kandy and Cherie and some of their associates stood outside one of their cubicles talking, Brian would pull his chair out into the aisle and stare at them. He laughed whenever they laughed. Sometimes he would pretend to read his newspaper and loudly clear his throat every few minutes. The young women would only look at him and roll their eyes.
On one occasion, when they were standing in his path to his cubicle, instead of saying excuse me he just walked up to the back of Kandy and began breathing down her neck.
“Girl, I think Brian wants to touch your ass,” Cherie laughed.
“Honey, he don’t make enough money to look at all this,” Kandy said, striking a bottom- glorifying pose that made Cherie and a few onlookers laugh.
That had not been the response he had expected. That impulsive act could have gotten him written up for sexual harassment. Then, because he had created so much trouble already, he would have gotten himself sent home indefinitely instead of just suspended. So Brian had lain low, expecting the worse, but no grievance was filed. After some deliberation, Brian decided to stick to verbal attacks following that incident; which led to his very memorable confrontation with the unit secretary, Precious Williams.
“Hello, Mr. Sims,” Precious said.
“What do you want?” Brian snapped, not looking up from his paper littered desk.
“Well, you know Boss’s Day is coming up and we, the unit I mean, thought that it would be a good idea to take up some money to buy a gift for Mrs. Dandridge.”
“I wouldn’t give my hard earned money to that woman for all the rice in China. What’s she ever done for me? I haven’t gotten a decent appraisal since I’ve been working under her. I guess if I were black I would get treated better. She seems to cater to you people,” Brian said, turning in his chair and facing Precious. Brian knew that what he had said was rotten. Precious had never done anything to him. She was one of the few young blacks who had amounted to something. She did hang with Kandy and Cherie on occasion, but she mostly struck to herself.
“You people?” Precious said, attempting to control her anger but failing miserably. “Mr. Sims, I don’t know what your problem is, but you are talking to the wrong one. I’m not one of these other people you take such joy in terrorizing.”
“Get out of my face, Precious, I don’t have time for this nonsense,” Brian said, rising from his chair. He pushed Precious to the side as he left his cubicle heading down the aisle. Brian could see her regain her balance out of the corner of his eye. He figured that she would probably get together with her little cronies and badmouth him. What happened instead had never crossed his mind.
Brian hit the floor when Precious charged him. She started hitting him on the back of his
head, neck and back. Then she got up and started kicking him in the shin and hip with the
pointed toe of her boots. All the exercise Brian had done had never prepared him for that day.
Seeing the assault, a man in another unit went to the conference room, where the managers were having a meeting, to get Mrs. Dandridge. It took her and five other people to pull Precious kicking and cursing, away from Brian’s balled up body. Tears covered her face and blood ran from the broken skin on her fists. She continued to yell obscenities as they led her to Mr. Bentley’s office.
The company nurse came to get Brian. Some managers helped him into the wheelchair she had brought. As the nurse pushed Brian to her station, anyone who hadn’t witnessed the fight could clearly see the deep fingernail scratches covering his neck and face. They snickered and pointed at the patches missing from his already thinning gray hair.
After being released from the hospital, Brian was told to stay home from work for at least
a month. Brian had never been off of work for such a length of time but knew he needed to be. Crazy woman. If I were twenty years younger, I would’ve shown that little bitch a thing or two.
His second morning home, Brian lay in his bed trying to ignore the pain in his right leg. Then the phone rang.
“Hey, should I make the funeral arrangements now or are you going to stick around and wreak havoc for a few more years?” the woman on the other end asked.
“Sarah?” Brian asked, “I can’t believe you called me. How long has it been now…twelve years?”
“Thirteen. So how did you manage to get your ass kicked by a twenty-five year old?”
“Who told you?”
“You know my cousin, Lula, sill works there. She saw the nurse pushing you to her off office.”
“Nosey wench,” Brian said.
“I’m going to ignore that because I know you don’t know any better. I took off of work for a while, told them that my deadbeat husband needed me. I’ll be there in half an hour. I have to pick up my rental.”
“How did you know I wanted you to come?”
“I doesn’t matter what you want. If I don’t help you, it will be on my conscious for eternity. And I try to think about you as least as possible. See yeah in a few,” Sarah said, hanging up not bothering to wait for a response.
Brian and his wife had been separated longer than they had been together. When he had
returned home after the army kicked him out, his wife followed suit. Sarah was pregnant at the time, which should have been impossible due to the fact that Brian had been gone for a year. In a way, he had been ecstatic to be rid of her, but every now and then he wished he could have made things better between them.
Brian hadn’t been in a serious relationship since Sarah. He had dated a few women here and there but soon grew tired of them. It was never the same as being with sweet Sarah, so he resolved to stop trying to replace her. He got lonely for a woman at times, but it was nothing a bottle of Jack Daniels and a little Vaseline or baby oil couldn’t cure.
When he built his strength up, Brian crept downstairs to unlock the door so it would be open when Sarah got there. He was sitting in his recliner, in front of the living room television, when his estranged wife arrived, looking even more beautiful than Brian had remembered. Florida had been good to her. Brian tried to suppress his excitement at her being there, but when she began to speak, there was nothing to mask any more.
“Brian, when are you going to learn that you are the minority at Internal Revenue
Service? That place is ninety percent women, seventy percent black women, what were you thinking? Don’t answer that, I forgot that thinking was never your forte.”
“They need to do what the government pays them to do, and that does not include taking up money to give to some snobbish woman who’s not worth the cream she puts in her coffee.”
“You need to do what you are paid to do and that is to do your work and keep your nose and your big mouth out of other people’s business.”
“You sound just like those people. If I’m gonna have to justify my actions throughout
this little pity visit of yours, you might as well go home now.”
“Brian, I’m just trying to help you understand that you can’t keep doing people the way you do. What if that young woman had her boyfriend or brother kick your behind instead of doing it herself? You could have been killed instead of just knocked around a little bit.”
“Knocked around? She did try to kill me with those witch boots of hers. You can see the imprints of them up and down my leg and thigh,” Brian whined, pulling up his pant leg.
Sarah just shook her head and walked into the small kitchen. Brian could hear her running water in the sink preparing to clean the dishes he had left on the table since breakfast.
Thanks, babe, he thought, smiling to himself.
For the rest of Sarah’s stay, she and Brian got along quite well. He even began to entertain thoughts of reconciling with Sarah. He revealed his thoughts to her the day she was suppose to return to Florida.
“Sarah, how about giving your loving husband another chance.”
“Damn, you’re not even going to think about it?”
“Come on, babe, be reasonable.”
“Brian, remember when I begged you to let me move on base with you instead of staying with my parents?”
“Sarah, I thought that you would be lonely when I wasn’t there with you.”
“That was a crock of shit then and it still is now. I wanted to be with my husband and
you left me.”
“Well, that didn’t mean you had to go gallivanting around and getting pregnant by some other guy. A black one at that.”
“I admit my guilt in the way things turned out, but Shelly has been one of the best things that have ever happened to me. Too bad I can’t say the same for you.”
Brian suppressed the urge to say something spiteful. “But I can do better, Sarah, just give me another shot.”
“We’ll see. I’ll call you when I have a chance to think about it. Bye, Brian.”
Brian returned to work the Monday after Sarah left. He hadn’t liked many of the things she said to him but he knew that she had been right. He also knew that he had been mostly to blame for their problems and subsequent separation. That meant he had a lot of changes to make, as far as his attitude, if he really wanted to win Sarah back. Brian also came to the realization that there would always be things he would dislike about the way things were done at his job. He wouldn’t be forced to just sit back and deal with it but he would have to go through the proper channels to get things resolved instead o being rude to his co-workers…in his new unit.