Hour Five | Change

Oh my goodness– so five days in a row! If anyone is still actually reading this–thank you!

In my last post, I talked about my hectic (albeit fulfilling) work schedule last Tuesday. Today’s schedule wasn’t as crazy but just as filling. This evening we (YWCA) partnered with IJPC (Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center) to host a series called Days of Dialogue. The purpose of the series is to create shared meaning amongst community members through reflective listening. This means listening to understand instead of listening to respond. Tonight’s conversation prompt was “Do you believe it is true that we are an equal opportunity nation? Do people of color have equal access to the ‘American Dream’?”

Each attendee had the chance to respond to the prompt, but everyone had to first paraphrase what the person before them said so as to be sure that person was understood.  It’s a process that folks can take and use in their everyday lives. We hope it can promote at least some positive change in some lives.

Earlier this afternoon, I met with a group I’ve been involved with for the past year working on getting the city to pass a CEDAW ordinance. What’s CEDAW?  You ask. It stands for the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women. Why is this important? There are many reasons, not least of all that being treated justly is a human right, but also because discrimination is not cool.

Meriam Webster defines discrimination as the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

This makes me think about an incredulous comment someone said to me years ago. The comment directly affected my livelihood, but I wasn’t equipped with the knowledge or tools that I am now to properly address the situation.

This happened  maybe 20 years ago. A good friend of mine worked at a luxury car dealership as the receptionist. I don’t remember why she left–I think it was because she was pregnant–but I needed a job at the time so she put in a really good word for me and I got the job without even having to interview for it.

Working there was interesting. I was the receptionist but I was also working as the cashier for the service department. Remember, this was a luxury car dealership. So the customer base was comprised of very wealthy, fancy car drivers. And those fancy cars cost a lot to service. I kid you not– one time someone had a $10,000 service bill. They paid half with a check (this was back before everyone paid for everything with their credit cards) and the other half was in cash. This was not an uncommon occurrence.

When I started that job, I was told that every six months I would be reviewed to receive a raise. So after working there for almost a year and a half and having asked my boss a couple of times about meeting with me to talk about my review, I wondered if we would ever have that discussion.

Finally, after asking him multiple times to at least have the conversation with me, he took me into his office. I’ll never forget what he said because–to this day–it really bothers me.

He said: “I was watching you the other day. And I noticed you were using a calculator.” Then he explains why he cannot give me a raise.

He said, You using a calculator shows me that you have self-esteem issues.”

I still believe that not only was this one of the most ridiculous reasons to give someone for not giving them a raise but if I’m handling all of that money, OF COURSE I want to be sure I’m giving the proper change/adding up the bills correctly. So to be told this was the reason I was not receiving a raise (Oh! one thing I forgot to mention is we’re not talking a significant raise or even something earth shattering. It was like 50 cents…so…) just felt belittling.  I still feel like he said this to me because he could.

And he could. Because I didn’t do anything except sit in shocked silence for a moment or two, walk over to gather my things, and walked out.

I realize now that probably wasn’t the best way to handle the situation,  but I couldn’t stay there for one moment longer.

If this were to happen to you, what would you have done? And do you think I’m overreacting for letting it get to me to this day? Please comment below.


About Desiré

During my 20-year climb to economic self-sufficiency, I've inched my way from being a teenaged single-mother and high school dropout to completing a postgraduate degree and working as a Social Justice Advocate.
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3 Responses to Hour Five | Change

  1. Kristen says:

    It makes me livid that this happened to you! The reasoning not just being belittling, but made no sense! Honestly your response, in my eyes was powerful enough to say the words for you. You gathering your things and walking out let that guy know that you heard him loud and clear, and have no time to waste on being minimized by an idiot himself!

  2. JJ says:

    I read this children’s book the other day that has changed my worldview. Heavy stuff for a kids’ book, right? Anyway, the book is about a blue crayon in a red wrapper. The crayon has been labeled red, everyone thinks the crayon is red. Several other colors of crayons try to make combinations with the “red” crayon and they just come out all wrong. Another shade of “red” crayon tries to show the crayon how to draw red crayon things- but they always turn out blue. The crayon tries and tries and tries to be a good red crayon, but fails each and every time. One day, a crayon comes to the “red” crayon and says “Can you draw a blue ocean for my boat?” The crayon balks at this, because “Of course I can’t draw an ocean, I’m a red crayon!” The other crayon asks him to take a shot anyway, so he does. And it’s the bluest, most wonderful ocean. Suddenly, all the crayons are ready to collaborate again, and asking the crayon to draw blue things. Success!

    My point is, if you’re a blue crayon and someone wants you to be a red crayon, if someone tells you you’re a red crayon, and you’re not?! It doesn’t feel very good. But you are just as valuable as a blue crayon – you just have to be in a place where blue crayons can be blue. Walking away from a place that only wants red crayons is sometimes the best thing for you. ❤

  3. I think you handles it quite well, self esteem issues and all. What the heck? Don’t ever let people like this dull your shine!

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