The following is an excerpt from the story, “A Sticky Situation.” Find it inside my Ebook, releasing early 2018!
“Good afternoon, thanks for visiting Home Mart. How can I help you today?” Theresa greeted the customer who approached her register. Theresa was 43 years old, and although she had two Bachelor’s degrees and over 15 years of experience with a successful marketing firm, she somehow found herself stuck working at the biggest and shittiest retail chain in America. Say the name too fast it and sounded like they were selling more suggestive items—Home Mart.
And even though she hated that place with every fiber of her being, Theresa had to force a smile while interacting with guests. This one was a 50-something year-old white lady, with blonde hair that was turning an unfortunate shade of brown-gray. She wore mom jeans that stopped at her mid-calf, a heavy-looking designer leather purse, and, of course, Crocs.
“I need to return these shoes!” the woman said stiffly as she plopped a pair of sandals on Theresa’s counter with a rude thud.
Theresa simply glared at the woman from over the top of her half-rimmed glasses.
See, Theresa was a black woman—a very black one at that. Her hips were wide even before she birthed her two kids, and her hair was so big, kinky, and wild that all her old office managers considered her a tad unprofessional-looking.
So you can imagine how she felt having to work for The Man and serve unapologetic and unthankful white men and women like this one on a daily basis.
You see, Theresa used to be a marketing superstar. She used to work at one of the top marketing agencies in the state. That is, until she lost her temper with a white coworker one day, cursed out the whole office staff, punched a hole in the wall, and lost her job and any prospects of returning to the industry.
That was six months ago. Now, Theresa is forced to use her “sales” background to work retail and attend therapy for anger management and stress control twice monthly.
“Do you have your receipt, ma’am?” Theresa recited with robotic ease and the same stoic, forced smile.
“Uh no, I do not,” White Lady sounded appalled at the idea.
“Ma’am, without a receipt, the best I can do it offer you store cre—” but before Theresa could finish her statement, she noticed something off about the sandals the woman brought in. She picked them up and began to examine them. The holes on the straps of the sandals had a deep indent in them, and the bottoms of the shoes were black with dirt. The soles of the shoes had a very clear footprint.
Theresa tried her hardest not to roll her eyes at the woman. “Ma’am, have you worn these shoes?”
Again, utter shock overcame the lady’s face.
“No, I haven’t. If I liked them and could fit them, don’t you think I would be keeping them?” she added a smug scoff to her response.
“Excuse me, ma’am, but these sandals obviously have some wear and tear to them, and if you had your receipt, I could show you our strict return policy on shoes. If you’ve had them for over 21 days, we cannot take them back.”
“What makes you think I’ve had them for over 21 days?”
Theresa felt as if she were about to explode on White Lady, but just as she had that thought, she remembered the breathing techniques her therapist, Dr. Washington taught her. She then proceeded to close her eyes for five seconds to breathe in slowly and then exhale.
“Uh, excuse me!” White Lady interrupted. “Is there a problem?”
“Ma’am, I cannot accept these shoes,” Theresa said calmly.
“Well then, just give me store credit, if you can’t give me my money back!”
“I don’t think I can do that, either.”
At this point, Theresa’s line was growing, and the customers behind White Lady (who probably had a real solvable concern) started looking peeved.
“Let me talk to your manager!” the woman pretty much yelled at Theresa.
Without replying, Theresa simply turned her back on White Lady to grab her walkie-talkie from the back counter.
She mumbled into it that she needed a manager at Returns, and within a couple minutes, her supervisor was standing at her side, relaying to White Lady the same message Theresa had given minutes before. She stood by with her arms crossed, no longer trying to hide the sass from her face.
“In all my years shopping at Home Mart, I have never encountered such rude employees!” White Lady started a rant no one cared to hear. “Your corporate office will be hearing from me about this cashier of yours! And you won’t be getting any business from me after today!”
“Thank you, ma’am, have a nice day.” Theresa said as White Lady stormed off. She and her supervisor could hear her still bitching from many feet away.
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