I woke up and checked my phone; hour before my alarm. I could just go back to sleep…nah why chance it, I’ll just make breakfast. I was excited, nervous, anxious…it was my first day at my current employer, Nunya Damn Business Associates, after months of interviews, scouring job postings, and watching way too much television I was actually leaving the house to make money for a change. Black or white shirt, solid or pattern tie, glasses or no glasses. After enough fretting I was closing in on the hour I thought I had by awaking early, it was time to go. It was a confident subway ride, other professionals dressed to their respective jobs, I felt like I belonged. I arrive at NDBA early, the cheerful receptionist who recognized me from my interview weeks earlier greeted me with a congratulations. Someone was paged down to meet me in the lobby and I was greeted with
“Wow, you’re right on time”
“Um, nigga duh” I thought
“oh yeah the commute was quicker than I expected” is what I said with a smile.
That was 3 years ago. Still smiling through my real thoughts. These days I’m peeling myself out of bed at my 5th alarm, if I’m wearing a tie its for plans after work and the cheery receptionist is an old white dude who I may greet with a nod if we make eye contact but otherwise I can’t hear him over the trap music in my headphones. I smile and greet people I encounter en route to my office where on a good day I can hide for the next 8 hours. I just don’t have patience for the shenanigans some days. I’m the only black male in my department, amongst the youngest here…I’m well aware I’m the Rudolph here. So trust, It’s for your benefit, and mine. I’m accustomed to a certain standard of living. And I actually do like my job. I don’t like awkward and uncomfortable and so I smile, nod, chuckle…live to fight another day. But with each smile, there’s a part of me who really wants to say…
Why are you asking me what I’m listening to when I’m about 95% sure you have no idea who it is?
Don’t call me “T” put some respeck on my name
I’m eating teriyaki wings but you are telling about this great soul food you had one time
Do you really think the new girl is cute or you just assume because she’s black I’m attracted to her
Of all TV shows you watch, Empire was the first one that came to mind huh
Unless you know my brother, who I remind you of is wrong
Sombreros and fake mustaches for Cinco de Mayo, huh
“50 Shades of Chicken” as a gag gift for the Yankee Swap couldve went really badly…
Or was you assuming we wouldn’t go for what was clearly a book
Why are you so surprised I like baseball
Don’t ask me what slang words mean; urbandictionary did that so I dont have to go through that
You don’t need to remind me of when I’M taking time off
No I’m not on BLACK Twitter, or any Twitter….in fact, what’s Twitter?
Again, I get it. The desire to connect and such. But for myself and others in the same position we have our digital water cooler, podcasts, social media, blogs…outlets where we can chop it up with our folk so I don’t necessarily need to make awkward conversation with Alex in Sales. So which is healthier, an office culture with people of whom you don’t identify with or logging into the matrix with your peers but are still essentially words on a screen? I need both*. I need a dose of blackness when I feel alone at work and to talk to actual people when I feel alone at work. Of course, the true answer is more diverse, happy work environments but you know, glass ceilings and all that.