And she’d be the one to get fired.

I walked into AT&T hoping to pay on my go phone account. The clerk, a young Black female, was already helping a customer, another young Black female. As I walked in the clerk was asking her for her work phone number to which the customer replied “Girl! I don’t be knowing no phone numbers. I think its 855 something. Just put Nissan.” The clerk chuckled and proceeded helping her establish her account.

There was another clerk, a pseudo-young white male, on the phone as I proceeded to survey my surrounding. He seemed to be on an important call, so I simply stood in line awaiting to helped. After five minutes the guy walked over to me, said I’ll be right with you, and went into the back. The clerk already assisting the customer looks at me and says ‘I’m sorry, I guess his personal call is more important’. By her tone you could tell this is something that has happened before. My mind raced and I thought ‘here we go’.

The woman who was being waited on upon my arrival was accompanied by what I assume was her brother or her boyfriend and her son, who could not have been any older than three or four.

He ran around the place, unruly, but very innocently. He was playing cops and robbers or so it seemed, since he kept screening about who [his imaginary playmate] had the gun. The gentlemen and I, and secretively the clerk waiting on his mother, watched as he crawled back and forth across the building, screamed and tackled, kicked and enjoyed. What struck me was that the mother was so casual about his public behavior. I admit I am not the best when it comes to kids, but I believe there should be some type of decorum taught in public. Something to the effect of BE STILL.

After another five minutes of this and the witnessing of:

Clerk: What’s your home phone number?

Customer: Girl!! I ain’t got no home phone. Stop Jerod.

Clerk: He has a good imagination.

Customer: Girl!! He play like this at home. I mean it ain’t nobody but me and him.

Jerod (who has collapsed on the floor after 15 seconds of silence): I want a baby.

Clerk: He wants a baby?

Customer: Girl!! He silly.

Clerk: Where is he going to get a baby from? He wants you to make a baby? (now becoming frantic at the mother’s lack of concern) Jerod, where are you going to get a baby from?

Jerod: I’m going to make one.

The mother laughs, the clerk sighs and I am growing agitated.

Mr. Clerk finally returns and asks what he could do for me. I explained I was there to make a payment. He asked what type of phone did I have while simultaneously physically searching my person for it. I backed away and said ‘I have a GO phone’.

He asked “Is the phone off.”

I answered “No”

Without pausing to hear my answer he continues “Because if it is off it will take…”

Again “No, my phone is not off”

I assumed he had gotten the message. He walked around the counter and started punching keys. He asked the other clerk for a dollar, I still have no clue why. Then he beckons me to step forward:

Mr. Clerk: What is your cell phone number?

Me: 601-

Mr. Clerk: Make sure you give me the right number.

Me: Why would I give you the wrong number?

Mr. Clerk: You have no clue how many people who don’t know their phone numbers.

Me: [classic sarcasm] Really?

Customer: Girl!! Yea!! Cuz I don’t be knowing my numbas all the time. It just happen like dat. I didn’t even know my work numba.

Mr. Clerk (who has come from around the counter to demonstrate): Because people come in here all dragged out and they’re like uh duh uh…

All of which I could possibly have understood had I not been in the process of giving him my number before he went off on this acid trip. Seeming as though this clerk was obviously tact-less, and wor-king my nerves, I interrupted his speech to motion (read: push) him back around the counter because I was more than tired of his BS.

After finally handing my receipt to me and freeing me from this torture, I headed for the nearest exit. There was a customer entering as I left and I could only hold my head in fear for what she was about to encounter.

Notes on this experience for those who did not see it as I did:

After remembering what I heard of Mr. Clerk’s conversation he was no doubt having phone sex, which explains why he had to take it in the back.

Mr. Clerk is aware of his position as the alpha male in that facility. He knows when the shit hits the fan the Black Chic gets the ax first.

When Jerod turns 16 and says to mommy that his girlfriend is pregnant will she remember she released all rights to be upset. He already told her he wanted to make a baby, by her silence she condoned his actions.

I can not say Mr. Clerk was racist but he was definitely prejudice. He made assumptions from what he saw, a young Black woman dressed in hip-hop fashion, and implied that a) I must be reconnecting a disconnected phone b) I must be too ashamed to admit it c) I will lie about what phone I have for whatever reason d) My time is worthless and e) it is necessary for excuses to be made for adults who don’t take ownership over the products they purchase.

The customer being waiting on from the time I got there to the time I left was obviously offended by my infliction when I sarcastically asked about giving wrong numbers. Yes that was on purpose.

Needless to say my cell phone bill is now REFT so there will be no more trips to hell town.

Memphis Blues

He was 26 years old and from Memphis Tennessee. September 17 he decided to drive 80 miles to hold 15 people hostage for pizza, sodas and his life. This is about all the info the police have as well.

Harold Kilpatrick, Jr., 26, took about 15 people hostage at about 12:50 p.m. CST, but then released four of them, said Lisa McDowell, Dyersburg Police spokeswoman. He was holding them in a second-floor classroom of the Eller building, McDowell said.

Kilpatrick is from Memphis but had recently been staying with his sister in Dyersburg, McDowell said. He was neither a student at the community college, nor did he work there, she said.

The Dyersburg Police Special Operations Response Team and hostage negotiation team were addressing the man through the classroom wall, she said. Kilpatrick told police he wanted to commit suicide and left a suicide note, Williamson said.

He said the man was believed to have a 9 mm handgun and barricaded the classroom’s doors.

Earlier, Kilpatrick was refusing to negotiate with authorities and would only talk to them using his hostages as intermediaries on cell phones, Williamson said.

Later in the evening, though, McDowell said the suspect began talking with police and even ordered pizzas and sodas to share with his hostages.

The chief said the man claimed to be a member of al Qaeda, and the FBI had been informed of the claim.

“I don’t know about that, but that’s his story,” Williamson said, shaking his head.


Color As A State of Mind

When MLK marched thru Greenwood, Mississippi both of my parents skipped school to be apart of history. Their contribution did not stop there. They spent their lives attempting to upturn a system that sat on top of them. They helped open doors I can now simply walk thru. I do not know their struggle, although I can not help but sympathize.

I first ‘realized’ I was Black when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I was in Wal-Mart when a little white girl rubbed her hand across mine and then ran to her mother. She acted as though I had given her ‘cooties’. I didn’t understand. I was clean, I was well dressed, there was no difference between us other than the color of our skin.

My parents did not teach me to love everyone as equals. They taught me not to trust white people. Period. End of lesson. I had always been conditioned to believe whites were sometype of anomally that deserved reverence and attention, be it negative or positive.

In High School I took a course called Theory of Knowledge. This course required us to think outside the box. It made us ask the questions we had been told were out of line. What made the teacher correct? What is a belief? What is race? This course allowed us to see life as well as knowledge from a totally different perspective. It showed us there is natural progression to all things. Even authority.

I had always been to Black schools, had Black friends and I was an adult before I had a friendship with anyone outside of my ‘race’. She was different to say the least but I noticed when I hung out with her and her friends I was not treated like the ‘Black’ chic of the group as I had been warned I would be. I was treated as a member of the group. As with any relationship with anyone, I made my share of mistakes and misjudgements and I was always waiting for the shoe to drop. I was always waiting for my white friend to disassociate with me and tire of my Blackness as I had been warned she would.

I’m still waiting. By them conditioning me to be cautious they were actually creating a complex. Instead of receiving a message to disregard color, I was learning to judge by it. Where I should have been getting to know this person and understand them for who they are, I was instead judging them by what stereotypes dictated they should have been. I was waiting for the doublecross that has yet to come. But that is a risk you take in any relationship with any person you acquaint yourself with, regardless of their color.

What I have learned over the years is that color is a state of mind. As with all karma what you put out is always what you get back. If you see everything in Black and White that is all you will ever get. I don’t see my friend as my ‘white’ friend, she’s just my friend. A person no more or no less than me. Her skin color no more makes her a threat than a young man with his pants sagging. It is the content of their character that dictates their actions. And the content of their character can not be seen in their skin.

I can not carry the battles of my parents on my back. There are new battles out there to fight. I am in no way saying racism does not exist. Also, I do not mean to imply that one should not be cautious of the intentions and motives of others. I am only saying the main battle is not fighting the evil ‘white’ people. The battle, at least for me, is helping others realize they have the power to change their circumstances thru the choices they make. My parents and their generation provided that privilege. They fought long and hard to give us the opportunity to know life beyond the boundaries of color. So why would I limit myself on the basis of pigmentation?

Where would I find the pager number?

I am not a people person so why do I work in Customer Service? Every Thursday – Monday at five am I awake and head to a major Telecommunications Center to answer the calls of complete idiots.

My beef with Consumers is simple, if you buy a product at least take the time to learn how to use the equipment. If you have a pager LEARN YOUR PAGER NUMBER. If you move to a new area and need a phone or lights or cable, KNOW THE ADDRESS OF WHERE YOU NEED THEM. Telling me to just use your Post Office Box means absolutely scratch. Yes I can actually send service to that PO Box, but my friend it would do you no good.

Small talk can be a wonderful thing if in fact it is just that – small. But if your tire caught on flat; you ripped a hole in your new suit; you were late for work; the day after you had just been warned not be late again; your life partner/spouse/loved one chewed you out for no apparent reason and/or your favorite show was interrupted by another PSA from Good Ol’ Dubya. PLEASE don’t choose that hour to call Customer Service and ask me why you have not received a page in two months. (Why have you waited 2 months to call about it?) Besides, no matter what I say you will somehowwork into the conversation your general melancholy and quite frankly I don’t want to hear it. I just can’t tell you that because ‘this call may be recorded for Quality Assurance purposes’.

These companies send you invoices knowing that the only part you will ever actually look at is: Total Due. Do me a favor, when ‘Total Due’ says some outrageous number take the time to search through the rest of the invoice to see why you were actually charged. Which implicates you would have to know what rate plan you are on and what charges are associated with that rate plan. I say this because when you call me and I explain how the charges on your bill are accurate I want you to be able to say more than ‘Oh I didn’t even bother to look at that’. And in the not-so-rare-as-you-would-hope case that you have been over charged, be one of the privileged few who actually read the terms and conditions (which include in small print how companies can ultimately screw you at will). Because when I tell you it will take up to 60 days to give back the money it only took us 60 seconds to take, I don’t want you to become irate and hear me chuckle at your request to speak with a supervisor (who will only come back to me and have me explain to them what should be done…and you gotta love that).

All I am asking is for you, the consumer/customer/provider of my paycheck, to take responsibility for the products and services you purchase. Become knowledgeable of what is due you and considerate of what is not. No, you can not have 3 months of free services because you missed 1 page. No, I will not credit you back $326.21 because you have to pay your rent and you used your debit card with the Visa logo. No, I will not call you when I get off and it does not matter if I am married or have a boyfriend, are you that desperate or do I sound that gullible. And no, your cursing ranting and raving will not make this road any smoother, as a matter of fact, I’m going to place you on hold (Customer Service Time-Out) so that you can think about your behavior!

I am expected to carry a friendly attitude despite your attempt to p*ss me off, which I might be obliged to allow if this call were not ‘being recorded for Quality Assurance purposes’. This is my job and not my career, I will do everything I can to make you happy. Help me to help you…

P.S. In the case you are from California or New York, please be advised it is not a compliment to tell me I speak well to be a Southerner or that you love my accent (well I’m not too fond of yours). Do not ask me if I am White or Black. And the next person who drops into my line and says ‘Do you all wear shoes down there’ YOUR CALL (and possibly your service) WILL BE DISCONNECTED, screw Quality Assurance!!