About ten years ago I was fired for the first, and prayerfully the last time. It went a lil something like this: I worked at No Name Hospital in No Name, South Carolina. It was set to be a busy shift and we were short, so good times were definitely not on the horizon. I’ll keep in mind that it’s been some years since this happened so the details are hazy, but the long and short of it is the therapist that was in charge that day opted to give herself a fairly cushy assignment while giving the other therapists bullshit. Not uncommon in my line of work, but digressing … I made her aware of this. We exchanged words, nothing too over the top, but we did. I took my assignment and proceeded to take on the 12 hours of the shift. She didn’t call me all day. She didn’t come through my unit. I didn’t in fact see her until the end of the shift as another co-worker and I were walking out. I’ll preface the following with the fact that we were black females. My fearless leader for the day was a white female.
Admittedly, me and other said black female threw heavy shade on the way out the door, but nothing that should have ended with me looking for employment.
One day later …
I come to work. It’s an ordinary day. Patients are on ventilators. I’m taking care of them. I’m doing what I do. The moment I signed my last vent check on my last patient at @4:30pm, (this I remember because I can remember looking at my watch and thinking what the fuck?), I am called to the office.
Mr. D. Whiteman, the manager of the cardiopulmonary department, a man who seemed like he could have been the defensive line for his college football team is sitting behind his desk. He is sweating and clearly nervous. He asks me to have a seat. I do. He then begins to unfurl the most blatant bastardization of facts that I’d ever had pass through my ears up to that point in my life (my son would later best him in this capacity).
The above tale of shade throwing and home going was spun into the following fairytale:
Brunettey Locks & The Two Big BAAAD Coloreds
by D. Fensless Whitewoman
Once upon a time while working her job to the best of her ability, the fair and innocent Brunettey Locks was headed home to feed woodland animals and contemplate world peace. Suddenly there was a raucous noise behind her. It was cackling laughter. “It’s them!,” she thought, “The Two Big BAAAD Coloreds!” she’d been hiding from them all day, but they’d finally caught up with her.
“Eek!”, she thought, “Maybe if I’m really quiet they won’t notice me.” Brunettey locks got reaaallly quiet and walked reaaallly slowly, but to no avail.
“There she is!”, croaked Big BAAAD Colored 1. “Let’s get her!”, the other Big BAAAD Colored groaned. “I’m gonna bust a cap in her ass!”, the perverted urban menace Big BAAD Colored 1 announced. They erupted in beastly laughter then proceeded to chase the chaste and ever fair Brunettey Locks to her vehicle! Guns blazing, big bubbly lips giggling, massive brown thighs rubbing together.
Brunettey locks, by the grace of Billy Ray Cirus Jesus, escaped the wretched beasts, but was shaken to her very core.
Now … am I being just a smidge facetious? Yes. Is the story she told nearly as ridiculous? Yes. After being told that story I received, courtesy Mr. D. Whiteman’s trembling hand, a piece of paper to sign. I was being “suspended”. In his anxiety about my menacing nature he accidentally pushed my co-worker’s suspension* form in front of me. Both of the Big BAAAD Coloreds were being removed. Never to return to No Name Hospital in No Name, South Carolina again.
*Suspension is a fancy word for “fired”, gentles. “Suspension” prevents big baaad coloreds from showin’ out as security escorts them to their cars in utter humiliation in front of all their co-workers!
Two weeks ago:
I come down to the emergency room at Current Workplace Hospital after being called for a nebulizer treatment. My patient isn’t there, which I found slightly annoying, so I rolled my eyes and blew out air as annoyed people do. The calling nurse (we shall call her Nursey Poo) , whom I did not ask for feed back, decides to announce that the patient was there when she called. To which I reply, “I wasn’t able to get here the moment you called.” To which SHE replied “I didn’t SAY you had to be here right away.”
This is a trap. She is begging for it. She’s baiting me even. I refuse, because thanks to my experience with Brunettey Locks, I am fully aware of what color I am and what a show down like one she’s bucking for would mean for me. I go to follow up with the manager on duty, and before I can do that my patients return. I treat them, and return to my gripe session about Nursey Poo seeking out a manager to talk to when over storms Nursey Poo to the major desk area of the “busiest emergency department in Major City, NC”™, in a decided rage.
“Are you over here talking about me!?”
“Wah?!”, says Blackey Locks*, “No ma’am, I’m in the middle of patient care and we will not be doing this right now.”
*Blackey Locks = Stacey Rose RRT
I walk away, wanting ever so badly to buss her in her mouth so hard that the end result would be her portraying varying forms of The Predator for Halloween the remainder of her life. I wish I could say it ended here. Nursey Poo follows me into a crowded supply room and proceeds engage me in a shouting match. My memories of No Name Hospital in No Name, South Carolina in the forefront of my mind, I do not engage.
She rants loud, hard, and fast directly in my face in a manner that my own damn Momma rarely has. There are references to my “attitude” and the fact that I had the audacity to roll my eyes when I came down stairs. This immediately signals my rage. I am metaphorically biting my tongue. I am goin IN, inside my head. I have called her every form of bitch conceivable. The only thing coming out of my mouth?
In a manner that a McDonald’s drive thru attendant my try to quell a customer irate about the absence of pickles on their McPig Heart sandwich. I continued at varying octaves and inflections for what seemed like an hour as she let loose. It descended into insanity when she too got on the “Ma’am” train, drowning me out completely. I then made her aware of the fact that her behavior was threatening. To which she replied, “Good, you should feel threatened.”
Friends! Let the record, my own damn record, show that if I had even danced around this kind of behavior there is a significant chance that I would have been looking for a job the next morning, or have spent the evening in the Major City, NC jail. (I’m mean I’ve spent time in there for even less). Nursey Poo was allowed to “cool down” and return to her work. My assignment was changed (to be transparent, I volunteered for this.) I have yet to hear what the repercussions of her action were and at this juncture, I don’t really care. And yes, whether or not anyone wants to admit it I wholeheartedly believe the bias lies in race.
Black women are simply not allowed their anger, not in its full capacity. We’re always being asked to stifle or suppress it in some way, especially in the professional setting. Professional black women are held to particularly high standard of decorum at the work place. No matter if any real level of wrong that might have been done to us, no matter if we, like any damn body else, are having a bad day. We don’t want … no we can’t afford to be viewed as an angry black woman … God. Forbid. Other women’s anger could get them called a bitch, odds are not to their face. It may even get them a stern talking to by the powers that be, but a black woman’s “attitude” signals inherent danger. A danger that, gone unchecked, could dissolve the universe creating a gaping black hole in the galaxy. (Well maybe this is slightly true … but that’s another post.)
Immediately post face off, I wanted Nursey Poo’s job. I wanted her first-born. I wanted her to experience levels of suffering that would make Jean Valjean shudder. Then, like all feelings, my anger passed and I got to what the root of what I really wanted. I wanted the ability to experience frustration and even full-out anger without fear of retribution. Now should I have carte blanche to show my ass in the manner that Nursey Poo did? Hell no. That type of behavior is inexcusable for anyone.
Alas, I’m not sure when or if ever we’ll get to an America where we can escape the stigma of our stereotypes. Hell, maybe that kind of world wouldn’t be as interesting, but one where our feelings didn’t unnecessarily put us at risk at loosing our livelihood or worse. That’d be a world I’d sign up for.
I’m not justifying this level of crazy, BUT when people don’t know how to STFU …