Working With Women

Have you ever been friends with a girl that spends a considerable amount of time hanging out with guys? And when you ask her why, she responds with something like, “I don’t like women, they have too much mess with them.”

I always thought this was crazy because the woman saying this was a woman. Its like a blonde saying all blondes are dumb. I blew this off as typical stereotype mumbo jumbo. But in late 2015, I got a job working at Lowe’s as a cashier. I worked at Lowe’s for seven months and I don’t totally just disregard the statement now. I still don’t think its true in all cases, but some people probably have experiences to back up their claim that working around women is just a drama filled headache.

Now lets get on with this life story:

I was hired at Lowe’s in December 2015 as a cashier. I was in the last year of my master’s program and my assistantship barely paid me enough money to survive. I thought that working at Lowe’s would give me enough money to live as comfortable as a college student w/o full time work could.  When I started, there were only a few male cashiers at the Lowe’s store. It was three of us to be exact. There was an older black guy with one eye, a big young white guy, and me. The rest of the cashiers were women. Some of the women were older, like 30+, but most were in their early twenties. Since I had never been a cashier before and I was student, they often paired me with this younger girl named Tonya.

Tonya was 19 but she could have easily passed for 26. She was one of the meanest persons that I have ever been around. She wasn’t too bright either. One time she said men and women were different species, and she meant it. Tonya was cool for about a week. After that, it didn’t take long for the real her to come out.  Tonya and I have the same skin tone. We are both dark-skinned but she constantly berated me with dark skin jokes. She would say things like, ” Ole black ass nigga with that crisco on his forehead.” Ironically enough, she’d show up to cashier’s meetings with dashikis on. How can one try to express feelings of Pan-Africanism and endorse colorism at the same time? IDK. She became a living hell to work with. Her best friend was one of the cashier managers. She was 22 years old, and her named was Kiara. When I had to work a shift with them both, it was hell.

Eventually, Tonya took to cursing me out in front of customers. She would call me nigga, stupid, bitch-ass, etc in front of customers. I would just look at the facial expressions of the customers when they heard her, but I never said anything. I was part of the problem. I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to be public enemy #1 at a job that I needed. I thought that everyone loved her at the job. If I went to human resources on her, I thought her cashier-manager-best-friend would make my life a living hell. I felt the other cashier managers would as well. The whole “no snitching” philosophy is real in the black community. So rather than make every night on the job a living hell, I thought I could deal with her a few nights a week until the summer. And I did.

When I worked the same shift as her and Kiara, I would have to do all of the closing cleaning. Usually, the cashiers divided up the work at the end of the night. One person would restock the drinks, another clean the boys bathroom, and a third to clean the girls bathroom. Tonya was very lazy, and she often tried to push all of these responsibilities on me. Kiara would cosign to her sheer fuckery. One time Kiara told me, “David get busy cleaning, EVERYTHING, I dont want to see you until closing time.” When nights were slow, Tonya would often leave the register to flirt with guys in the departments and leave me by myself.” No one would check her on this.

Enter my good friend, Ray:

Ray got hired a month after I did. I still remember her first day on the job. She was really pretty and all of the department guys were coming up to me and saying things like , “yall finally got something fine working behind the registers.” The girls on the job surrounded her, treating her with the utmost respect, and warned her about which guys to stay away from. One guy in particular came up to talk to me, and Kiara told Ray to leave him alone. Kiara said it loud enough so the guy could here it. He was upset, and he warned me. He said, ” you see that? She telling Red to stay away from me, and I’ve never did her anything? Stay out of the cliques around here, cliques will get you in trouble.”  Unlike Tonya or the other younger girls there, Ray wasnt in school at the time. So, we rarely worked the same shift. When we did though, it was a lot of fun. We would cut up. Im a really goofy person, but its always better when someone else is around. As pretty as Ray was, she was really down to earth and she could easily make you feel comfortable being around her.Those were the types of people I liked being around. People that I didn’t have to hold back around. She was a churchy type person which kept her really chill. She shared the same distaste for Kiara and Tonya that I did. Not because they had done anything to Ray, they were just rude assholes.

Ray took a liking to this guy who was a manager of the tools department. His name was Terry. Terry and I had graduated from Grambling together as history majors. He was cool, and he was slightly older than I was. Terry was from Houston and had transferred from PVAM. Terry had worked his way up to a manager position, and he was working on his master’s degree in social work. I have a lot of respect for Terry. He’d given up a hustling at PVAM to follow the straight and narrow path.  Ray and Terry tried to keep their relationship a secret because they knew that issues may arise from it being public. If only they knew how right they were, they’d probably still have it a kept secret.

One saturday in march 2016,  I walked into the gardening section. Ray was about to clock-out and I was taking her place. She told me, “David, some messy shit went down here, I have something to tell you.” We exchanged numbers so she could text me the story while I was at work. The store had done spring hiring and we had plenty of new workers and managers. When Ray text me, she told me that someone had started a nasty rumor about her and Terry. When I say nasty, I mean sexual. The rumor was started over a co-worker groupme that neither of us were in but word got back to her. She had more courage than I did, because she wanted to go to Human Resources about the issue. She didn’t care about being public enemy #1.

At first, she told me that one of the new cashier managers had started the rumor. This new cashier manager’s name was  Jerrica. Jerrica was 24 and she rocked red hair. A lot of the customers would try to flirt with her, but she kept busy often. She was my favorite manager because she was the most efficient. She would always make sure I got my breaks, and she was quick to the register if there were ever any issues. Ray told me that she would confront Jerrica about the issue and she did. Ray soon found out that Jerrica had nothing to do with the rumor.

Sadly, she found out that Jerrica had nothing to do with the nasty rumor too late. Ray had already alerted Human Resources about the issue and they spoke with Jerrica. She was almost fired over the issue. After Ray realized that Jerrica had nothing to do with it, she began probing more people about the situation. All of Ray’s leads ran dry except the one she had the hardest time believing.

Tonya and Kiara hung out with a girl named Breonca. Breonca was another young former classmate of mine. She teased me for, ” Not having no hoes to cake with on New Years” because my girlfriend lived out of town. Breonca started off cool, but she ended up being just as bad as Tonya. Thank God that she wasn’t a cashier. Ray and Breonca were childhood friends. They both grew up around the Grambling area and they knew each other for a very long time. Breonca was the last person that Ray would expected to start such a rumor.

The probes led her back to Breonca. While discussing this possibility with Terry, Terry told Ray that Breonca liked him at the time that he started talking to Ray. The information from the probing and Terry’s story started to all make sense.When they checked Terry’s instagram, they found out that Breonca had unfollowed him. It all made sense to Ray. Breonca liked Terry and was upset that he was with Ray.

Ray told me, “David, I cant believe this. This is someone that I have been knowing my whole life.” Ray was a really religious person, and she seemed genuine. To see her be slandered by people she had never did anything to, it made me sort of lose the little hope that I had for humanity. I connected her situation to mine with Tonya and I came to realize that its true. You have everything to lose being a nice, kind, good person. You can be a great person and people will still treat you like you stole their last twenty dollars.

The longer I worked at Lowe’s the more I began to see. I was scared to tell the HR manager about Tonya because I thought that she was beloved by all of our co-workers. I thought that Kiara might have made my job a living hell if I did that. Well, I soon found out that most of the cashiers didn’t like either of them. They slack talked them often when they were not around. Turns out people don’t care for abrasive personalities. For a while, I was thinking that I was the only one.

I tried to stay oblivious to the atmosphere at Lowe’s. I didn’t clique up with anyone. I didn’t have a problem with most of the people who worked there but I didn’t want to take any chances in getting caught up in mess. The older ladies who worked at Lowe’s didn’t have this kind of drama. They were very nurturing and helped me out often. There was no mess with them. Thats one of the reasons that I like talking to the older people. They like to give advice, we were all babies to them and nothing was a popularity contest to them either.

I saw other co-workers mistreated by Kiara and Tonya. As time went on, we’d gripe and complain about it. We just came to the conclusion that the same work culture that allowed a worker to leave their register would defend them when the accusations came. There was never any drama among the male floor associates. They did their work, and they seemed happy. Heated atmospheres usually meant that some of the girls were upset with each other.

I haven’t talked to Ray much since I moved. Her and Terry are still together after a year. I don’t even know if she still works at Lowe’s. When she was running the story to me last year, One thing that stuck out to me was when she said, “See David, this why I cant stand females!”

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