I’m The Only Black Chick in the Office…Get Me Out of Here!

I sit across the desk from Colin, my manager, trying to imagine the look on my face.

Was I serving him with my pushed up mouth, ‘I have no fucks to give‘ dead eyed stare, or am I fixing him with my ‘I’m so pissed I could quite happily drag you across this desk in a heartbeat and punch you in the face‘ angry Black Woman look?

I figured I was hovering somewhere between the two and willing myself not to laugh in his face, throw up deuces with both hands, grab my bag and leave.
What’s the Only Black Chick in the Office to do when she’s over it?  When the desperation has gone and the novelty has worn off?  What happens to her sanity and sense of Self in an environment where she’s both seen and unseen at the same time?

What do you do when you’re done?

There are days when I want to cry on my way into the Plantation.  Days when I sit at my desk shifting paper from right to left to right, wondering how I’ve lasted so long; where the dull and tedious monotony isn’t even grey anymore, but a murky and blurry sludge on a slow cycle.

Colin leans across and I swear he’s trying to burn deep into my soul with his fishy blue eyes, as he tells me how good I am at the job, and how highly he thinks of me.

“I think the world of you – you know I do, but I think you’re a bit selfish.  You’re not a team player.”


Selfish?
Not a team player?
*raises eyebrow*

I took that.  I told Colin that he was probably right in his summation of his Patsy – in fact, I actually threw my head back and laughed out loud.  These people have made me lose my fucking mind.

There is no incentive for me to want to do well.
There is no motivation for me to want to work.

In all honesty there’s nothing keeping me here other than the security of the (not enough to live on) salary that leaves my bank account just as soon as it arrives.

I HATE it here.
I LOATHE it here.

I’m extremely pissed and frustrated that three years down the line, I’m still here with zero prospects of moving up, down, left or right within the company – and seemingly, out of it completely!
I sit across the desk from Colin and I nod and laugh and cuss out his whole entire familial line in my head, all the while not saying exactly what I really want to say.

I don’t say what I really want to say, because that would invite the potential to totally lose my shit and end up with a P45 right there and then.

Because that would mean that I let my guard down – oh that was another issue raised; Colin thinks that I constantly have a guard up and that I should be myself because, “everybody here likes you – nobody has said a bad word against you.”

 Ha! This guy just told me that he’s been chatting about me??!!
I just nodded with clenched teeth hidden behind a grin so forced it probably looked like I was having an enema, as I let the fact that Colin had clearly had my name in his mouth to every other heifer in the office, slide past undisputed.

Everybody loves the ‘selfish‘ Black woman who doesn’t do overtime in order to do other people’s work, or help out when other people are busy ‘cos she has her own piles of paper to shuffle from right to left to right?

*kmt*
What. Ever.
I couldn’t give two shits what they think or feel about me, because I think and feel so very little about them – like the ancestors say, a lion cares not for the opinion of sheep…or words to that effect!

I’m just fucking DONE.
OVER IT.

I refuse to give anymore of myself to this…mind-numbingly boring job that has nothing to give me in return, so until such time as I can hand deliver my letter of resignation on a silver platter, I’m gonna show up every damned day and make them fucking adore me.

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(Over)Sharing is (not) Caring

How much do you know about your colleagues?  I mean really know.

Let me tell you what I know about the folks at my Plantation.
I know that Bridget cheated on her man during their engagement (not for the first time), so he called off the wedding – for the third time…

I know that Becky has no idea how the female reproductive system works, so when she had her first smear test she drank three litres of water to make her vagina fresher for the Nurse…

I know that Colin’s wife doesn’t like it from the back ‘cos she hates him looking at her backside…

Sîan and Mia don’t fuck their man, and I tell ’em that if they don’t, someone else will…

Kim hasn’t had sex for three years, 37 weeks and 15 days, and has developed a weekly strip club habit where she gets to touch a new penis every Friday night at the local pub…

Charlotte tried ‘watersports’ for the first time and ended up pregnant after being with her baby daddy all of six weeks…


Why the constant need to overshare?  I don’t understand it?!
I’m not sure what’s worse; the banal and really mundane stuff like, “what’s everyone having for tea [dinner] tonight?”, or all of the above.

It’s relentless.  Consider myself a prude?  No way, but there’s a time and a place and the correct audience, and a room full of bad minded, back-stabbing heifers ain’t it!
Like, right now as I’m tapping this out on my phone, Penny is quite happily discussing some kind of sexually transmitted issue with her local clinic.

Whilst we’re on lunch.

And the MD walked in and the conversation switched to anal bleaching.

FML.

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It’s a Doggy Dog World

They say that the British are a nation of dog lovers and that canine creatures in all their forms are man’s best friend.

Count me out of that.

Dogs are my biggest fear and I’m being forced to share office space with one every bloody day.
What place does the animal have within the business?
None.
Why does the MD feel the need to bring it to work with him every day?
Because he can.

On the one hand it’s really unprofessional, but can nobody recall that scene from Django Unchained where a set of wild dogs were set upon a runaway Mandingo slave?  As the Only Black Chick in the Office I swear I’m in Candyland with a budget Calvin Candie and his minions adoring fans.
Sîan rightly said a few days ago, that everyone automatically assumes that everyone likes dogs, but that’s not the case.  Like me, Sîan is scared of dogs having been attacked by a large one as a child.

I just don’t like them.  Full stop.  Never have, never will.

“She’s only playing!”

It so happens that Cujo is now part of the office furniture.  Cujo is an African hunting dog –  a Rhodesian Ridgeback to be precise – so it’s second nature for it to prowl around the office, sniff under desks and pounce on unsuspecting people making tea in the kitchen.

To date, Cujo has made to attack three people; on one occasion drawing actual real blood, but I’m told that that’s okay because “she’s only playing!
Please.  My ancestors experienced the middle passage (not a theme park attraction), so when I see a dog running towards me, behind me, jumping on, near or around me, barking, growling, adopting the hunting position or generally being dog-like in my vicinity, I’m not here for it – not at all!

It’s so bad I’m always looking over my shoulder towards the door behind me, just in case the dreaded cur is stalking its next prey, and flinching every time I see an arm or leg move too quickly for my liking in my peripheral vision.

It’s so bad that on some days my bladder is fit to burst because I’m afraid to go to the toilet in case it decides to prowl, pounce on me and I piss myself in front of everyone.
Why am I the only one around here who sees this as a problem?  Both Sîan and Mia are with me on how unprofessional it is – this isn’t a pet shop or doggy play park, last time I looked I worked in an office.  But as well as some of us having a genuine fear, what if other people who work here have allergies?

We’re all agreed that there’s absolutely no thought or consideration for the staff here at all, but why should the MD care; we’re here simply to push paper and make him considerably richer, whilst he pretty much does what he wants…which involves travelling to some Eastern European enclave and buying Cujo a playmate…

*side eye*

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Say No to Blackface

The in thing for office birthdays at the moment is to provide party bags for everyone, and it being Becky’s big day she had filled party bags with fruity sweet sprays, lollipops, marshmallow crispy bars, popping candy and bubbles, as well as nail polish and a face mask for each of us on our desk.

The excitement bubbled as we all delved into our bags to see which face mask we had been given.

“Charcoal on my face?  Errrmmm…no!”

There was a cucumber and green tea mask in my bag, and Bridget had the same.

Sîan peered into the bottom of her bag and fished out a charcoal face mask, holding it aloft with the tips of her fingers as if it were a dirty nappy.

Crystal rummaged through her bag and retrieved one of the same and practically shrieked, “Errrmagoddd…it’s black!

A look of horror shot across Sîan’s face as she took a closer look at the packet in her hands. “Charcoal on my face?  Errrmmm…no!  That’s the kind of thing I have to do alone ‘cos it’s BLACK!!

Oh s**t yeah, can’t be seen with a black face can you?!” Crystal piped in.

*crickets*

Can’t be seen with a black face‘?
*blink blink*
Can’t be seen with a black face‘?
Clearly they don’t see me – just like they ‘don’t see colour’, my blackness and my black face is somehow now magically invisible?

The sceptic within me would probably be justified in thinking that the opportunity to (seemingly) entertain in such an offensive way would be taken without a second thought – black faces aren’t invisible when they don’t belong to you and you use them to ridicule and cause pain and anger and upset.

It goes without saying that there’s a LOT wrong with Blackface; it has a history that I’m almost certain isn’t understood or even acknowledged by Sîan and Crystal and any of the others in the office but, in the interests of promoting a healthy skin regime and seeing my colleagues get in on the glow up, I can get with a charcoal face mask used in the correct and proper fashion.  What causes an issue is the timely wait for somebody to make a racially loaded comment about it.

I may almost have passed out holding my breath after hearing Sîan and Crystal’s comments, but in understanding that their intentions weren’t malicious, I held my tongue and kept my thoughts to myself.

Can’t be seen with a black face‘ eh? HELLO???  Only Black Chick in the Office here – and dare I say, charcoal face mask or not, I look a helluva lot younger than every last one of you with my ten or more years seniority…this black most certainly does not crack yeah?!  Those canyon sized pores in your face and that shiny ass t-zone mean that you should let charcoal be your friend honey!

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The Triple Threat

After two years, his family drama, a brand new house and a surprise proposal, Crystal is getting married!

I’m genuinely happy for her; it’s taken some time, but I’ve become a bit fond of Crystal – she’s the only one I can actually tolerate without giving a side eye to or throwing shade at.

Now, our desk has become quite…’tight’ *meaning they share all their business freely and openly and without shame, and I sit, listen, give advice, sip tea and don’t tell ’em a damned thing*, and as such Crystal has added our names to her guest list for the big day.

“You’re more than welcome to jump in with us and make it a triple thing if you want?”

Earlier this week I didn’t make it to Breakfast Club (aka 7am -9am Overtime), so when I arrived I was told that Crystal had news for me.
I had to wait a while longer until Bridget went out for a cigarette (because although she sits with us, she “can’t sit with us”), and when it was just Crystal and Abbie and I, Crystal told me that the wedding venue had been booked and that the date had been set.

Abbie was already so excited about the 19-month wait that her eyes were rolling about like a Vegas slot machine hitting the jackpot.

The wedding venue caters for everything; the ceremony, reception and accommodation, and as such rooms for the weekend are likely to be snapped up pretty quickly…

“So errrmmm, were you thinking of staying over, it’s just ‘cos Crystal says there’ll be quite a few family and some other people who want to stay…”

Am I to read some subliminal message into this?  Will the sight of a Black person at the Survivor’s Breakfast put Granny off her Eggs Benedict?

“We’ll take one of the doubles and you can have the single…or whatever.”

Now I’m more than happy to be at this wedding, smize in all the photos and hold the dancefloor with great Uncle Bert, but I’m not sure how I feel about jumping in with Abbie, Becky and Sîan in a triple room – and what’s this, ‘whatever‘?
If I’m your special guest at this nuptial sleepover, then I deserve one of the doubles to myself, no?

“…but if you don’t want to come in with us that’s fine.”

I mean.  I’m good you know.  Really.    I’m cool with driving all the way out into the country, spending the day with you and driving all the way back to the ends before darkness catches me somewhere I’m not really supposed to be.
That’s fine.

As it is, I’m 95.9% certain that I’ll be the only speck of pepper in a sea of salt.  Bad enough at the office, but in real life too?  I have 19 months to steel myself to it, but secretly I can’t wait to drop the Electric Slide on the dancefloor, and wake up in my castle boudoir alone and happy that I managed to evade shared sleeping arrangements with the office folk.

Triple threat?
No. No. And no.

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10 Things I Hate About The Office

This whole office thing is fairly new to me.  Although I’ve been here almost three years, I’m still adjusting to the wonder, nuances, foolishness and fuckery of the office environment.

Every week there’s a new thing that annoys the hell outta me, but whilst I have a few fresh in my mind, here’s 10 things (in no particular order) that I hate about the office.

  • Everybody wants to be all up in your business.

What I did at the weekend, what I’m doing next weekend, what I’m having for dinner in three day’s time…

There are a handful of colleagues who get that I’m not the kinda chick to let you into my life and we only know each other on a 9-5 basis, and there are the select individuals who try so hard to be up my arse they’re a bit like an annoyingly recurring case of piles.

  • Calorie counting heifers

This may be a sweeping generalisation, and please forgive me if this is actually a thing, but I do not know of any Black woman who counts every single solitary calorie in every minute morsel of macrobiotic dust that passes their lips.

One minute there’s a buffet at the end of the desk three days in a row and a lunchtime run to McDonald’s, the next it’s carrot sticks, celery and hummus washed down with cabbage soup.

No.  I can’t sit here listening to you moan over the Vesuvius like rumblings of your hungry gut – eat the flipping biscuit and stop crying like a bitch over it.

  • Fear of the term ‘Black’ (and everything that comes with it)

There are a few of my colleagues for whom my being at the office is their first opportunity to be in close proximity to a real, live, walking and talking Black person.

During certain conversations I see the quick glances in my direction to ascertain if the subject matter is okay, and nobody ever mentions #BlackLivesMatter for fear of causing upset, when what really pisses me off is being referred to as ‘coloured’ or even nothing at all, because actually saying the word ‘Black’ when referring to a Black person is still considered a bit offensive by most.

  • Air-Conditioning

It’s bad enough that the office I work in is basically a windowless box with a huge panoramic sticker of the London skyline on one wall, and that I’m forced to spend eight hours of my day (that I can never get back) with people of questionable dentistry and intelligence, but it’s the constant battle with the air-con that really irks my soul.

I can’t deal with the constant blast of Arctic breeze across my neck, back and feet – pretty much everyday I feel like I’m in a tundra, whilst my colleagues are red-faced, clammy and fanning themselves with paperwork.

  • Conversations about world/cultural events when your ignorance stinks like a sore

Each day I spend amongst these people, I feel my well cultivated and nurtured brain cells melt away.

I can’t talk with my colleagues about Sandra Bland.  I can’t bear to listen to their uneducated views on the Calais migrant crisis, and I am so not here for them trying to school me on how supposedly amazing Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner are.

During my working day, at least 40% of the topics of discussion I have no idea about, purely because of how irrelevant they are to my existence as a Black woman, person of colour and the things that I’m interested in.

The other 60% I kinda play along with to mess with their heads!

  • Calling people out of their name

About a year into my being here, a girl named Fiona and I were having a fairly jovial conversation.

You know when you’re having a laugh and a joke with someone, and one of you says or does something stupid, and the other one says, “Oh you idiot!”?  Well on this particular day, Fiona got brave and decided it would be a good idea to punctuate our banter with, “Oh you silly slut!

*sigh*

Now, I don’t care about the etymology of the word ‘slut’, and how clever you think you are for tryna show my educated Black ass up in a room full of people – you don’t know me, so don’t try me.  Nobody has the right to call me anything other than the name my parents gave me, and what I choose to answer to.

  • Office Attire

Prior to joining this Plantation I worked in Education for almost a decade, so I was used to having to dress appropriately for meetings, giving assemblies and presentations.

Here, the dress code is more lax…definite no-nos are denim, sportswear and sweatpants, and as such I see way too much abused Jersey, spaghetti-strap vest tops and wet-look leggings and lumberjack shirts – tell me why people insist on wearing clothes that just aren’t right for them?!

The thing that really irks me the most, and is the thing I don’t understand, is why someone would wear the same ‘outfit’ to the office day in, day out?  When some of the girls tell me that they have ONE PAIR of work trousers, I do a little Sideshow Bob shudder inside and silently wail in despair.  When Bridget keeps rolling up in the one black cardigan with the hole in the elbow, I want to slap her and tell her to fix up!

They laugh when they ask me just how big my wardrobe is, and whilst I have use of two doubles, I utilise what I have and never wear the same thing twice in a fortnight – it’s that serious folks!

I don’t show up looking like I’m going to the Oscars, but I damn well don’t show up for business looking like Shamu and Hank Hill’s love child.

  • The incorrect assumption that I am the Oracle of popular Black Culture

“Is Nicki’s arse real?”

“I had no idea Beyonce wore a wig – what’s her real hair like?”

“Do they have Reggae Reggae Sauce in Jamaica?”

I. Don’t. Care.

But they still ask me all kinds of foolishness on an almost daily basis.  I’m actually surprised my tongue is still intact, the amount of times I’ve had to bite it.

  • Linguistic appropriation

No you may not greet me with ‘Wha Gwaan’ or address me with ‘Yes Fam/Blud’, because not only do these phrases not become you in any way, shape or form, but on an Ebonically linguistic level, they do not belong to you.

The feeble attempts at Jamaican accents were never funny, and quite frankly I feel like I wanna punch you in the throat for even trying – oh and I’m gonna add kissing teeth to this too – amongst those culturally akin to it, kissing teeth is an art form and I’m very much offended when they make it sound like they’re trying to suck custard through a straw.

  • The constant need to socialise and be together

I know that Uncle Tom’s cabin was the place to be back in the day, but on this particular Plantation, I don’t want to socialise with my colleagues – the first and the last time I did that was an experience I’d care not to repeat.

Over the past six weeks there have been no less than seven different social gatherings for birthdays, Hen parties, pending births and just because, and I’ve remained silent throughout the discussion of all of them.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I spend eight hours of my day with you people, and as much as I tolerate you during those eight hours, anything after 5pm with you would kill me.

It’s not even that I’m anti-social…I’m selectively social, and to be honest, I’ll stick to the rivers and lakes that I’m used to thank you very much.
*Additional annoyances include;

  • The singing of annoying adverts jingles
  • The Disney singing hour
  • ‘What are you having for tea?’
  • When walking to the printer sounds like a herd of Elephants have run through the office
  • (to be continued…)
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    Oh No Not My Baby!

    Every year since I started here there’s been a baby boom.  It’s so bad I refuse to let anyone sit in my seat for fear of catching the pregnancy virus that seems to run rife around here.

    In just over two years there have been six births, with another two on the way, and from time to time those on maternity leave visit the office to show off their offspring.
    Now, on occasions such as this I force myself to adjust my resting bitch face and take a moment to look up from my work and acknowledge the child and its parent – the same parent who’s a colleague but for some reason childbirth has erased that memory,  and all I get is a glance and a passing ‘Hi’, as the child gripped tightly on their waist gives me a doe-eyed death stare, then starts to whimper and wail when I throw them a wink.

    “I’m not Malificent honey; I am not gonna steal your Baby and sully them with my Blackness.”

    The other day Samantha brought her daughter into the office, and within minutes her sister Bridget had the child all up on her desk, cooing baby rhymes and unintelligible ‘words’ right next to me as I’m tryna triple check my valuation.

    I feel the baby death stare burning the side of my face, so I turn and say hi in the most non-threatening, baby friendly way possible, and I shit you not, I don’t even get to the second syllable of ‘Hello’, before little Zara screams blue murder and Samantha flies across the office like a flash and scoops the baby from her Aunty.

    Like, really though?  Honestly, when I think back on all the times someone has brought their baby to the office, aside from those who openly admit that they’re likely to drop the child or have a cold, almost everyone gets the chance to, or is offered a hold of said child.

    Everyone except me that is.

    I’m not Malificent honey; I am not gonna steal your Baby and sully them with my Blackness.  I don’t eat babies, I squeeze their chubby cheeks and make them laugh, teach them bad habits and happily hand them back to their parents.

    Samantha returns to work in a week or two, so I guess Zara won’t be making any more appearances for a while.  But Regina just had her baby and Harriet is due in two or three weeks, and believe me as soon as either of them brings their baby into the office, I’m snatching that kid and proving that there’s nothing to fear, and everything to love.

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