Monday, May 29, 2006

Good Evening dedicated bloggers, it has been........months since my last real post....sigh
Well, Con was great but right on the heels of Con Octavia Butler died and my winter blahs seemed never ending. Work was stressfull, as always and seemed to kind take over my very enjoyment of life there for awhile. Alas, spring came and I feel better. The sun somehow seems to make everything better.
Now for catch up.........personal life, I had a few more dates with V and then that was pretty much it. He was nice enough but not for me. Now I am kinda seeing if I want to date a new guy, S. He is nice and interesting but I am cautious so we will see what develops. I know one thing though, I intend to be dating this summer thats for darn sure:)
Work has been.....extremely interesting. We are short staffed-nothing new there, ever. However, the reasons we are short staffed have provided juicy gossip and unbelievability in one respect and sadness in another.
First for the juicy gossip. Our last hired employee-LM was nice but pretty stupid. If she had not irritated me so badly I would have felt sorry for the poor girl. It turns out my pity was wasted on her. To truly understand the shock of the story you need a picture of her. Picture it: 5' maybe 2", almost as wide as she is tall, pear shaped, slovenly, greasy, stringy dishwater blonde hair, parted down the middle (with scabs on the scalp), never wore a bra-though she was full breasted, always lint or dust or some such on her clothes, usually smelled-not too bad though I never had to work next to her-when R did he always complained that she stank. She always looked at the ground, never made eye contact, whiney, whispery, high pitched, annoying voice and no matter how many times you explained the simplest, directest, procedure-showed her more than once, wrote down the step-by-step instructions, showed her again-she STILL did not get it. In truth I think she caused more customer escalations than she solved. She was truly sweet and it did not seem to be her fault she was stupid and unattractive. She was always odd too. Now that is saying alot coming from me. I consider it a compliment to NOT be like everyone else. She was just ...odd?...did not fit? not sure. Let me give you an example. Her first month she was asking other staff members what if scenario questions-I love those kind of questions myself. If you could pick any super power, what would you pick? If you could meet any person living or dead who would you meet and why? If you could live in any place and any time, past, present, future, tvland, what would you pick and why? Chessy but nice if you hve nothing better to do and do not really know the people you are talking to. Well, here are her questions. 1) If you had to sleep with someone at our store (started out as cuddle, then evolved to sleep and eventually have sex with) who would you pick? Seemed a pretty odd questions to me. What situation could I ever possibly be in (at work) where I would be in a position that I "had" to have sex with a co-worker? She clarified for me, "If it is was life or death, who would you pick?" Well, hell, if it was life or death I would take whoever would have me and hope I lived to be disgusted by it later. Unless it was Joe, in which I would just go ahead and die. Clearly she had someone in mind she wanted to "cuddle" with. From there it just got downright bizzarre...."Would you rather have your big toe or your thumb be the size of your head?" That one seemed to easy enough to me, niether thank you very much. She again clarified for me, "If you *had* to pick one or the other?" Again, I could not think of any situation in which this might occur, if something did happen to cause either my big toe or my thumb to swell to the size of my head I can not imagine that I would get to pick which I would prefer to swell. She had the nerve to look at me like *I* was stupid, she shook her head and said to me, "You're not very good at this, are you?" Clearly not.

She is only 20 and most of the staff at my job is young, male, attractive and unattached-S seems to like it that way. So LM was developing a few crushes. She was systematically text messaging the male staff and telling them they had a secret admirer. We all laughed about it behind her back. No one admitted to taking her up on her offer. I know men can be dogs, but even I never thought anyone would be that desperate. Clearly I was incorrect. So this is how it went down-on my day off no less. The wednesday meeting was at 8 am as usual. LM had to close and so did married man number 2-M. Well, apparently when LM came to work her regular shift, she told married man number 1-C, the she thought she saw M's wife in the parking lot following her after the morning meeting. C promptly proceeded to tell EVERYONE working that afternoon that LM was having an affair with M and that his wife had confronted her in the parking lot. At no point did he mention that he had also had an affair with her. It was easy to believe that M's wife might be following her since M moved to our store from his original store because he was having an affair with a younger co-worker, his wife found out and tried to run the employee over in the store parking lot, LOL!!! I miss all the good stuff. Well, the rumor got back to D-the assistant store manager as S-the store manager was on vacation. So, D took LM into the office and basically let her know that adults should try to avoid affairs with co-workers and also let her know that everyone knew about her affair with M. LM burst out crying and immediately knew that C had told because that was the only person in the store she had told about M's wife. She then told D that she had also had an affair with C. Well, LM left for lunch, came back crying and still upset, pulled D into the office and quit effective immediately. It seems that she was too upset to continue working if people knew about her affairs. I was shocked to say the least. First she is just nasty. I was not surprised that C hit that, because I honestly think he would hump a rock if it agreed, M.....I always had more respect for M. I remember him talking about turning 40 earlier this year. It can not be easy to be him, he makes excellent money, but he is 40 working retail, his bosses are female and younger than him and he has zero chance for advancement. I still would not be desperate enough to have sex with someone like LM, but hey, maybe he was having a mid-life crisis? The buzz relaly started after she quit because of course management can not give any details. We need not have worried, she came in the next day-I was there-and I guess AR and AD-sales reps asked her at the front counter infront of customers why she quit and she said, and I quote" I was sleeping with two many people here to keep working here." Well, she asked AR to walk her to her car and she told him the names and the situation. So, now I like to tease D that I am going to have quit effective immediately because I am sleeping with too many people at the store. Add to that the rumors have started from that small base and have spread to our sister stores, goodness we have our own As Verizon Turns, LOL!!!! It was great!
On more solemn note, LD was terminated due to large amount of customer complaints. It sucks, it was unfair, but such is life. It puts us, the customer service reps in a difficult position. We are told by company policy to tell the customers no and then customers get angry, complain over our head because they do not like our answers. They get what they want anyway and we get complaints filed against us. If we just do it, we show up on tracking reports and get reprimanded for not towing the company line. It is a difficult position in a store like ours.
~~~Letting go is to fear less and live more!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Unbelievable what I is going on. Yesterday A called me at work to tell me that a classmate had called her a nigger. I told her to tell and fully expected the school to deal with it. How could I be so niave. What follows is our ongoing experiences. First from A's point of view, then from A's point of view with some editing by me and then my point of view. This is far from over.

The Nigger Incident-Three Points of View

The Nigger Incident Part 1

Today in science (my 4th hour class), Jackie Vandenabel was talking about her friend Casey Noble’s BLACK SQUIRREL named Squigger, and I asked Jackie not to say that anymore, because that’s putting together the two words squirrel and nigger. But she didn’t stop and then called me a Squigger, and I didn’t like that because I am actually black and so I asked her to stop repeatedly, but she would stop for a minute and keep doing it and then stop again, all the way until lunch. But I let it go.
Then after lunch she did it again, and I let it go again. But I only let it go because if you get suspended you can’t go on the trip to Cedar Point. But then she’s like hey guys I wonder what they would call a gay squirrel? But I’m like that’s really mean, but then she says a jigger, and I’m like you can’t say that! It’s like way to close to the word nigger(is what I was thinking! So then she’s like Why, because it has the word nigger in it(which it doesn’t but I wasn’t thinking about that because, I was too mad at the fact that she had said nigger to me and the fact that, that is racist. So then I’m like if you can’t say jigger, you definitely can’t say that! And then I said I don’t want to hear her say that again. And of course like the armature that she is, she is, she started saying it over and over again, and then she’s like, nigger, nigger, you’re a nigger(she didn’t say it in a tune or anything though, she just said it). She’s lucky I didn’t want to go to Cedar Point so bad, because I was about to jump up out of my seat and knock her teeth out.

A~ May 1st 2((6

The Nigger Incident Part 2

A~~ May 1, 2006

Today in my 4th hour science class I was sitting in my assigned seat and Jackie V. sits next to me. Jackie was talking about a black squirrel in Casey Noble’s backyard that he and his friend named squigger. I asked Jackie not to say that anymore. Not only did she keep saying it but she then called me a squigger. I asked her to stop repeatedly. She would stop for a minute and keep doing it and then stop again, this continued until we left for lunch.
After lunch when we were back in science she called me a squigger again and I let it go again. I was getting angry.
Then Jackie said, “Hey guys I wonder what they would call a gay squirrel?”
I said, “That’s really mean”.
Then she said, “A jigger.”
I said, “You can’t say that!” I was angry because it was too close to the word nigger.
Then she said, “Why, because it has the word nigger in it?”
I was very mad that she used the word nigger.
I said, “If you can’t say jigger, you definitely can’t say that!” Then I told her I did not want to hear her say that again. She started saying it over and over again, “Nigger, nigger, nigger, you’re a nigger”.
I was very upset and mad and wanted to fight. Zeke sits across from me and he told me to go tell on her so she would get in trouble because what she said was mean.
As soon as class was over I went to the counseling office. I told Mrs. Bieterman, “I have a problem. Can I see a principal, somebody in the office, a counselor, somebody.” She told me I had to fill out a slip and bring it back. I stayed there and filled the slip out turned it in right then.
I went to my next class like I was supposed to. I was mad and wanted something done so I went to the office and called my mom at work to tell her what happened. After I talked to my mom I went back to class.
Mrs. Suhajda called me about my locker but I thought it was about the slip. After we figured out what was wrong with the locker, she let me tell her what happened. I told her what happened with Jackie. Mrs. Suhajda said it definitely sounded racist and asked me if I could handle meeting with Jackie in the room or if I wanted to wait in another room. I said I wanted to meet with Jackie in the room and if I could not handle it I would say so. I felt like Mrs. Suhajda understood how upset I was.
Then Jackie was called down to talk to us. Jackie said she was talking about a squirrel named Squigger which was somebody’s pet. She said that the squirrel wasn’t black it was just a regular squirrel. She said that she never remembered saying anything about a gay squirrel called jigger. She said that she never said the word nigger that she would never say that and she doesn’t like that word. She also said that she has a lot of African-American friends, why would she call me that.
Mrs. Suhajda agreed with Jackie but said that she was not ruling out my opinion. She also made Jackie apologize for saying Squigger and said that she did not want us fighting about a misunderstanding. What misunderstanding, I know what I heard. I did not want her to apologize for saying the word Squigger it was being called a nigger that I wanted an apology for. I felt that I was not being treated fairly and frustrated that Mrs. Suhajda did not believe me. She is my counselor and she is supposed to be on everyone’s side. Why would I lie about Jackie? She and I had been friendly before she called me a nigger and why would I lie to get her into trouble?
Mrs. Suhajda sent Jackie back to class. I tried to explain to Mrs. Suhajda that Jackie lied. I told her that other people in the class heard what she said about the squirrel and that the squirrel was in Casey Noble’s back yard not his pet. Then Mrs. Suhajda said that she could not do anything about it until she had a chance to talk to the other people and get back to me. She said that unless some one else overheard Jackie calling me nigger she was not going to do anything about it. So basically I was lying unless someone else over heard it. Mrs. Suhajda gave me a pass and I went back to class.
I was late getting to my third hour. I waked in, set my stuff down. After the teacher stopped talking I went over to talk to K about what happened and how Jackie lied in Mrs. Suhajda’s office. K said that she already knew that Jackie lied to Mrs. Suhajda because she heard Jackie telling someone, “A called me down to the counseling office just because I said nigger and squigger and jigger.” I told the sub I needed to go back to the counseling office. I went back to the counseling office to let Mrs. Suhajda know what K overheard. She was with another student so I filled out another slip but this time I wrote on the back what happened in case she could not get back to me. I did not get a chance to speak to Mrs. Suhajda again.

The Nigger Incident Part 3

Laileana May 1, 2006

A called me at work to tell me that a classmate had called her a nigger in science class. I was so surprised I was not really sure what to say at first. I asked A if the teacher heard the classmate. She said no. I asked her if she had told her teacher. She told me that she had filled out a form to talk to Mrs. Suhajda about it. I told A to tell the truth, not be upset or fight the girl and let Mrs. Suhajda deal with it. I had spoken to Mrs. Suhajda before and always had a positive experience with her so I felt confident that it would be dealt with. I was expecting to hear from Mrs. Suhajda at some point during the day saying that she had in fact spoken to A. That did not happen. When A got home from school she called me at work to tell me that she had spoken to Mrs. Suhajda that Jackie lied about calling her a nigger and that Mrs. Suhajda would not do anything unless someone else heard Jackie call her a nigger. She also told me that after their meeting with Mrs. Suhajda, another student overheard Jackie saying she called her a nigger and that she had tried to tell Mrs. Suhajda about it but she was meeting with another student. I called Mrs. Suhajda at about 2:50 to see what was going on. Mrs. Suhajda let me know that she had spoken to A and that unfortunately the other girl denied calling A a nigger and so it was a case of he said/she said. I was not at all surprised to hear that the girl denied calling A a nigger to the counselor. She would have to be pretty stupid to admit to an incident that would get her in trouble. Mrs. Suhajda let me know that she was going to interview the other students involved, that she had another student in her office waiting for her when she saw A that she needed to get back to. She seemed concerned about whether or not the squirrel was a pet or in the back yard and whether it was really named squigger. She did tell me that she let Jackie know it was inappropriate to use the word squigger. She also let me know that she had not spoken to Mr. May, the assistant principal about the incident but was going to speak with him as soon as she had a chance to speak with the other students. Mrs. Suhajda seemed to feel it was a misunderstanding and that perhaps Jackie’s remarks were taken out of context. I asked what context such a comment would be appropriate in. Mrs. Suhajda said the “n” word was never appropriate. She explained that she would not be able to speak with the students further today. I understood that because school was out and the students were already dismissed for the day. She said that either she or Mr. May would be contacting me after they had spoken with some of the other students. I got the feeling from our conversation that Mrs. Suhajda did not believe A. That she felt that A was either lying or had misunderstood Jackie and that unless a student came forward and said they heard Jackie call A a nigger not a whole lot was going to be done about this. I told Mrs. Suhajda that this was a big deal to me and to A, that A had never before been called a nigger and how upset she was. I also let her know that I expected the school to handle this and I was not sure if A would be returning until it was dealt with. I also told her that I could understand needing to speak with witnesses and that I was planning to call Mr. May myself. I was disappointed that this incident was being dismissed by A’s counselor. I was disappointed that A was being repeatedly humiliated. First she is humiliated by being called a nigger by another student, than she is humiliated a second time by the counselor telling her she believes that Jacki did not call her a nigger because Jackie has African American friends, she is humiliated a third time by Jackie bragging to her friends that she called A a nigger, lied about it and Mrs. Suhajda believed her and yet a fourth time by her compliant being totally trivialized and dismissed. I was upset that she was being seen not as the victim, but that she was in fact to be dismissed unless she could produce witnesses. I was not at all satisfied with my conversation with Mrs. Suhajda so I took a few moments to calm down and gather my thoughts before calling Mr. May.
I spoke with Mr. May at 3:15pm. He answered the phone and I identified myself by name and as A’s mother. He asked how I was and how he could help me. I asked if he spoken with Mrs. Suhajda and he said he had in fact spoken with her just a moment ago. Well, if he had just spoken to her, than he knew very well why I was calling and what he could do to help me. So why treat me in such a condescending manner? He was polite but I got the impression from him that he was not too concerned about the incident and not at all anxious to deal with it. When I asked he did tell me that it was against the student code book to use racial slurs and that he had dealt with a student before for breaking that rule. Again, he let me know that it was he said/she said incident and that he or Mrs. Suhajda would call me. Then he thanked me for calling. At no point did he acknowledge that A had been victimized, that the student was wrong for treating A as she did. Instead of validating my concerns and taking responsibility for the situation being handled, he trivialized the incident in a polite and dismissive manner.
I honestly expected more of Mr. May. I have always felt comfortable talking to him and A has as well. However, after speaking with both Mrs. Suhajda and Mr. May it was apparent to me that this was not being taken seriously and would not be unless A could find someone willing to speak up about what happened to her. It was like she was being victimized all over again. I told A that what Jackie said to her was wrong and that the way Mrs. Suhajda treated her was wrong. I asked her to type up a letter of exactly what happened, what was said, where she was, who was around her and what she did. That way she has a record of the incident to provide and is not trying to explain when she is already upset.
A is not a perfect child and she has been disciplined at school for misbehaving and even for lying. However, it has never been brought to my attention any incident where she has lied maliciously in an attempt to get another student in trouble. If she was lying about this incident it would only be in an attempt to get Jackie into trouble. I can not understand what would motivate her to do so. A may talk back to a substitute teacher or lie about doing her homework, but I have not known her to lie to get someone else into trouble. Jackie was a friend of hers and lives close to her friend T, and I know A has played with her before outside of school, so she would not have a motivation to try and get Jackie in trouble. On the other hand, Jackie, knowing she would be in trouble for calling A a nigger, has every motive to lie. Yet, Jackie is being believed and A is forced to try to find another 12 year old student willing to act as a witness for her, unbelievable. Obviously neither Mr. May nor Mrs. Suhajda are aware of how often bystanders choose to ignore racist comments. I experience it all of the time as an African American. People are uncomfortable about racial issues and prefer to avoid them at all costs. I would prefer to avoid it too, but this is not an off-color remark made in jest that could be misunderstood or taken out of context. This child called A a nigger to her face. When A asked her to stop she did it again and again and again. A did what she was supposed to and handled it by following the school rules. She did not fight the girl. She went to the counseling office and asked for help immediately. She did exactly what she was supposed to do in this situation and I am very proud of her. If it was me I am not sure I would not have been able to handle the situation as well as she did. How is she repaid for handling this situation according to school policy? Her concerns are dismissed as he said/she said, the issue is trivialized and A is treated like a liar. Mrs. Suhajda was much concerned about why Jackie would have black friends and call A a nigger and whether or not there was a squirrel named Squigger, than she was about how A felt. At no point did she offer any explanation as to why A would lie about Jackie calling her a nigger. She implied that A misunderstood or took the comment out of context. What context would that be in? Even if it was a black squirrel named squigger-clearly a nigger squirrel, that should be addressed alone. The fact that the girl went far enough to say nigger and then call A a nigger to her face should be treated appropriately and addressed immediately. If Mrs. Suhajda had another student she had to attend to, then she should have had someone else handle the situation that day. Now, for all I know Jackie could have talked other students into lying for her and the situation has certainly been discussed among the students and who knows what they will say now. Jackie’s needs were put before A’s just like Jackie’s story was believed and A’s was not. So A is victimized by the school as well as the student. I am not sure what the school policy is involving racial slurs against students, but surely it should have been addressed in some manner immediately and not put off until the next day. At this point I am as concerned about the way Mrs. Suhajda treated A as I am Jackie calling her a nigger. Mrs. Suhajda seems to be focusing on whether or not Jackie is racist. I am not saying Jackie is a racist, she is a child and possibly she does not understand how extremely offensive and inappropriate that comment is. She may have been saying it because she saw how much it upset A and she was just trying to get a rise out of her. That is pretty standard behavior for middle school children. Not that ignorance or immaturity excuse Jackie’s behavior. Kids do mean and inappropriate things all of the time, all kids do. However, that is why schools have policies in place to deal with this type of behavior. A went to the counseling center seeking immediate assistance and was told she would have to fill out a form. I am not happy about that, but can understand that probably all students feel their concerns need to be addressed immediately. However, once Mrs. Suhajda had a chance to actually hear what happened and if she did not believe A and felt the incident needed to be researched, she should have done so immediately. If she could not, she should have seen to it that some one else did, another counselor, Mr. May or the principal, Mr. Hurst. I should also have been contacted as A’s mother and made aware of the situation. I am not asking that this girl be hanged in the Town Square or anything foolish as that. I do not even care if she is racist. This is the United States and she and her family have the right to be as ignorant and small minded as they like. However, A has rights as well. One of those rights is to not be verbally assaulted by her classmates. If she is, she has the right to be taken seriously and not treated like she misunderstood, took the comment out of context or lied. I am appalled at how she has been treated.

May 2, 2006
I drove A to school this morning along with her friend K J. A had asked K to please write out what she heard Jackie say after Jackie and A’s meeting with Mrs. Suhajda. K J gave it to me this morning to be turned in along with A’s statement. At the school, I assured A that I would be able to handle this and told her to go to class and to call me if she needed to. At about 7:15 I asked one of the receptionists in the Main Office if I could speak to Mr. May and she said she would see if he was available. I sat down in one of chairs in the office to wait. The receptionist was already contacting a teacher over the phone about a parent who was in the office before me. I could see Mr. May walking behind the receptionist’s desks. He saw me, nodded and kept walking. After the receptionist got off of the phone and the other parent left to see the teacher, the receptionist got up to see if Mr. May was available. Mr. May came out of his office to get me just as I was telling A to go to class and not to worry, I would take care of this incident. Mr. May said, “You wanted to see me?’ I said, “Yes.” He indicated that I should follow him to his office, which I did. He went in before me, sat down and said, “How can help you?” I did not sit down. I remained standing and said, “I had A write down her experience yesterday and we typed it out. Her friend who witnessed what Jackie said after her meeting with Mrs. Suhajda.” He thanked me and took a quick glance at K’s letter. I than asked that A and Jackie not sit together in science class. He asked for her science teachers name and wrote it down on a sticky note to move A to another table. Move A not Jackie, again implying that A was wrong and not the wronged. I left his office and the school feeling more dismissed, ignored and trivialized than ever.
I am still surprised and hurt at the way Mr. May is responding to this incident. He has always been friendly and encouraging when I have spoken to him at the Club Pride meetings or performances. He was very understanding when I called repeatedly worried about A when they went out of town for a performance last year. I have seen him in the hall or office in passing at school in the past and he has always been warm and easy to talk to. When he called me in February to tell me that A was on Step 2 disciplinary action, because she had signed my name to a note sent home by the teacher and then pretended to be me on the phone with the teacher, he assured me that A was a good kid and he was sure she had just made a mistake. Yet, when I called yesterday, he was polite, but rude. He asked me how I was and how he could help me. I asked if he had spoken to Mrs. Suhajda and he let me know that he had just finished speaking with her a moment ago in fact. So, why act like he did not know why I was calling and ask how he could help me? He knew good and well why I was calling and what he could do to help me. At no point did he say to me that he understood my concerns and that I could be assured that this matter would be taken care of. He let me know that Mrs. Suhajda would investigate it but that she had other students as well. His tone and demeanor was condescending and dismissive. I felt like the issue was being trivialized and A was being dismissed as a liar.
My experience this morning was even worse. He saw me in the office and did not come over to speak to me, even though he had to know why I was there. In fact, he acted like he was unhappy to see me in the office. Then again, the first thing he asked me in the office was how he could help me, as if he had no idea why I was at the school. He did not offer me a seat or even shut the door. He did not say anything reassuring like we are taking this incident seriously you have no reason to be concerned, this type of behavior is not tolerated at this school, anything to let me he was concerned about A. It was awful.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Well, the nigger incident is officially over. It was quite stressful, to say the least. The offending girl got suspended and the "hecklers" got reprimanded as well. In the end it turned out that another girl was being called nigger as well and was afraid to say anything and hearing about A standing up made her speak up as well. I think A was hurt that her vice principal and counselor did not immediately believe her. I am glad that she was able to have a positive outcome in this instance. Racism will be a fact of her everyday life-most times I try and ignore it myself-and the vast majority of the time it is dismissed and ignored. So, at least she was able to see how it should go as well as glimpses of how it will mostly go in her future. I told her let it go and move on. Life is too short to sweat the small shit.
~~~~Letting go is to fear less and live more!