Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pride & Prejudice

It finally happened. Although I'm not sure that I should even say "finally" because I don't think that the possibility of this happening has ever crossed my mind. But today, it came up the escalator and met me square in the eyes.

Today I ran into an aquaintance from college...and I was just starting my shift at my part-time, retail job.

I was on my way to an empty register to drop of items from other departments that had somehow found their way into mine. As soon as I reached the escalator...I saw her. For the sake of anonymity, I'll call her "Tall Girl." Although my steps probably stuttered and my heart was racing, I managed to make eye contact. I smiled and spoke...the conversation went something like this:

Tall Girl: "Heeeeey!"
Me: "Oh my goodness, hi...how are you?"
Tall Girl: "I'm fine how are you?"
Me: "Good, good...and you?"
Tall Girl: "I'm hanging in there. It's so good to see you!"
Me: Yeah, you too!
Tall Girl: Are you living in this area now?"
Me: "Yeah, I am."
Tall Girl: "Oh really where?"
Me: "I'm in Upper Marlboro. I just moved back a year ago. I was actually out in LA for a while. I had gotten married, but I'm in the midst of a divorce."
Tall Girl: "Really? How'd you like Cali?"
Me: "Girl...I hated it. I'm sorry, I know that's your home town."
Tall Girl: "Please...it's alright. You see I'm here right? I'm actually supposed to be moving over to this area in the fall."
Me: "Where are you living now?"
Tall Girl: "I'm in South West (that's an area in DC). But I'm over this way all the time."
Me: "So what else is going on?"
Tall Girl: "Nothing...just working. I really don't do too much of anything. So how long had you been married?"
Me: "Well, technically I'm still married. It will be three years in July."
Tall Girl: "Any kids?"
Me: "Nope, no kids."
Tall Girl: "Well, that's good. Makes it a bit easier"
Me: "Yeah...so I'm just working this part-time job...trying to bring in some extra cash."
Tall Girl: "I hear that...I was thinking about doing the same thing. Let me give you my number...we should get together sometime. Call me whenever you want to hang out."
Me: "Okay...that sounds good."

That was pretty much the gist of it. We exchanged numbers and email addresses, hugged and said our goodbyes. I let out a huge sigh of relief that the encounter was over. Not because of her, she wasn't the problem...it was actually really nice to see her. It was me. As silly as it may sound: I. was. embarrassed.

My pride got the best of me and at that moment I was ashamed to be working where I am. I felt foolish standing across from Tall Girl holding a handful of clothing and adorning a name tag on a lanyard hanging from my neck. The same Tall Girl with whom I had sat in classes and had graduated with honors. I was overcome by the humilation of not having a more impressive story to tell...of a flourishing career, successful relationship and/or sensational social life. I felt compelled to excuse my current employment by giving more information than she needed, or even cared to know, about my personal situation. At that moment I felt like all my life had amounted to being was what stood in front of her...a part-time, retail sales associate.

I tried to shake it off. Tried to hold my head high and go about the rest of my day. But then my best friend, that I live with and who is also working part-time at the same retail establishment, came over to my department and I told her that I ran into Tall Girl. She didn't remember her, but she chuckled and said something along the lines of: "Humph...I bet she's thinking 'what a great life you've made for yourself!'" And although my friend said this in jest, the feeling came back. I stuttered a response to say that it wasn't like that...that she hadn't made me feel any less than. She hadn't...not in the least bit. I felt the way I did because of my foolish pride and the realization of my own ugly prejudices.

Truth be told, I don't really know what this aquaintance was thinking of me, but I'm assuming the best. What I do know, however, is had the shoe been on the other foot...if I had been Tall Girl...I would have definitely been wondering: Why is she working retail? We graduated Howard together...what happened to her? I would have thought this because I would have judged her situation, only knowing of her college life and absolutely NOTHING of what had brought her to this point. Not that working retail is the worse thing in the world but let's face it, the industry is primarily made up of high school/college students and retirees.

I guess it showed on my face because later my friend came back to my department to ask if what she had said hurt my feelings. I told her it didn't hurt my feelings because I had thought the same thing and that this isn't a life that I would have wanted for myself. My friend tried to console me by saying that she was just joking and that she wouldn't think that about me. My response to her was: but you said it, so you were thinking it. And the sad part is, so was I. But I won't any more...I am ridding myself of that prejudice that I never realized I had. I will try to no longer assume anything and if presented with a situation such as this...if I were to see someone from college doing something that I wouldn't have expected...I will say a prayer. My prayer will be that if this is what they want to do, that it will bring them unsurmountable joy; and if it is not what they want to be doing, that they be blessed with an opportunity of a lifetime!

Understanding that I have a steep "self-restoration" hill to climb, I knew that I couldn't let this incident and my feelings break my spirit. I had to put things in perspective. I reminded myself that I am "taking care of business" and doing what I need to do to better my current situation. That I am not settling for this part-time job, but am actively trying to find full time employment. That I should revel in my sound work ethic and my ability to maintain some aspect of responsibility despite my current circumstances.

Although at times it is hard to say and believe - especially on days like today - I have NOTHING to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. I have just hit a rough patch in my life, but it's just for a moment...because "trouble don't last always." And I'm so glad about that!

34 Comments:

At 7:40 AM, Anonymous MzNewAgenda said...

awwwwww Darbs, you have nothing to be ashamed of. At least you are working an honest job. I remember that I had a similiar encounter back when I first moved to Atlanta, I had lost my apartment, was living with a friend, I had 2 kids to support and had taken a part-time job delivering pizza. Turns out that I had a delivery to a new apartment complex and came face to face with my old neighbor from the apartment that I was evicted from. awkward. embarrassing. but I think I was harder on me than she was. Pick your chin up you have nothing to be ashamed of.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger TTD said...

you have nothing to be ashamed of.. ur making ends meet the best way you can until something better comes along.. if you were at home doing nothing w/ urself, waiting for a handout.. then that's something to be ashamed of.. whatever dont kill you, will make you stronger.. you'll be ok! ((hugs))

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger ProfessorGQ said...

don't be ashamed...I'm a college graduate also, and I don't have a fancy as some of my friends in college do, and I used to feel ashamed when I run into them, and we're "catching up"...the good thing is that the friends I have today don't make me feel ashamed for not having a high-paying job.

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger Actor Smurf said...

Darbs, everyone is right you have NOTHING to be ashamed of..we all hit patches and have to ride along the bumpy messed up road, usually because the govt taxes the hell out of us to fix the roads and then magically the money dissapears..oh shit did I got off on a tangent...anyways back to my point...YOU ROCK...just from your writing and your emotional honesty we all know that great things are for you...your making a decent living and doing good things...your not out on the streets, your not doing anything stupid...so don't you EVER be ashamed of yourself...now if you happen to come out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to your panty hose...THEN you can be embarassed! Huggles!

 
At 9:28 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ MzNewAgenda: Thanks to your comment, I have picked up my chin!

@ TTD: That's my feeling exactly...better to do something than nothing. Thanks for the hug...I felt it!

@ Professor: First, thanks for visiting my site! I'll have to stop by yours. And I too have a great set of friends who support me and encourage me, which helps a lot!

@ Actor: Okay...YOU made me laugh out loud!!! You are nuts! Thank you so much for your words of encouragement...they mean so much! Huggles back at'cha!

 
At 10:54 PM, Blogger Sangindiva said...

Darbs girl-Your post made me cry.
I cried because I know and understand that feeling.
The embarassment because in a million years you would have never thought this is where you'd be.
but you said it perfectly...
"I am ridding myself of that prejudice that I never realized I had. I will try to no longer assume anything and if presented with a situation such as this...if I were to see someone from college doing something that I wouldn't have expected...I will say a prayer. My prayer will be that if this is what they want to do, that it will bring them unsurmountable joy; and if it is not what they want to be doing, that they be blessed with an opportunity of a lifetime!"

This is God using this lesson to humble you so when he brings you into a position of power-
You won't look down on others but be sympathetic
because you have been there.

Don't be ashamed- you have NOTHING to be ashamed of. You're just learning life lessons.
God is preparing you for what he has in store for you-
The "old" Darbs wouldn't have been able to handle it.
The "new" Darbs will flourish!!

 
At 3:28 AM, Blogger Angel said...

Even though many of us hit rough patches..I take solace in knowing that there are MANY others out in the world that have it much worse (homeless, health issuses, abused, etc.) and wish they could trade places with us.

I feel the beautiful thing about life is that there is ALWAYS a tomorrow. We're NEVER too old for that fresh start...that new beginning...that new career...that new flame, etc.

But we have to try our best to be positive and surround ourselves with positive people.

I don't know you personally..but you have NOTHING to be ashamed of. I know MANY people who do service type jobs (bartending, waitressing, serving, etc). It's a means to an end. Who doesn't respect a working man or woman? Maybe someone who is simple. And do we really care what they think?
Who knows, maybe Tall Girl's been through her rough patches too.

Anyway, I was touched by your post and your honesty. I hope you find a way to not to fall into the trap about caring what other people think....and KEEP DOING YOUR THING!

God Bless.

 
At 9:56 AM, Blogger chele said...

Girl you got to shake it off. No one is walking in your shoes but YOU. You're doing what you have to do in order to make it. No shame in that. The road ahead is going to be a rocky one but you have what it takes to get through whatever obstacles come your way.

 
At 11:55 AM, Blogger LUVIN ME said...

There is nothing to be ashamed of. What would be a shame, is if you were lying there in the midst of your own self pity, not trying to do anything about your situation. You are surviving. Ending a relationship can be very hard.

Just think of it as starting over...

 
At 12:53 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Sangin': Doesn't God work in mysterious ways? I looove your last comment about what the old me wouldn't have been able to handle...I will always think on that...thank you!

@ Angel: Thanks for stopping by my site. I referred to that very idea a couple of posts ago...that there are others out there going through way worse than I. So even when I don't understand why I am where I am, I am always sure to still give thanks! And...funny you should mention "Tall Girl" because I think she was sent to me for a reason...I'll wait to see how it plays out before I post about it.

@ Chele: Thank you so much for helping me to remember my inner strength...it's easy to forget sometimes.

@ Luvin: Yes, ending a relationship is very hard...for reasons that aren't just emotional. Thanks for the love, as always!

 
At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Michel said...

Hey...you do what you have to do. I think being embrassed because you have a job you think is deadend is pointless. Just keep you eyes on the prize. Besides you strike me as a person with some serious skills and you'll get a chance to use them sooner rather then later!

 
At 7:13 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Michel: You are absolutely right about it being pointless...I guess that's why I hadn't thought of it like that before...this incident kinda surprised me. Thank you for your positivity and kind words :o)

 
At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Al's wife said...

Lesson learned.

It is a wise woman who can see the error of her own way and correct the wheel.

And what the hell is shame? We are all doing what we have to do as situations arise. We could be doing NOTHING (read: be dead)

Keep your head up mama!

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Butta said...

Hey Darbs! I hate to sound like a broken record, but once again I feel your pain. Goodness knows that I hate to run into certain folks who I went to college with, and I totally know that it's based on my own insecurities about where I am in life and I feel as if I am constantly in competition with them--at least in my mind. No matter that I have a house, a car that's paid for, no student loans, and a job with benefits. I somehow manage to see walls that need painting, carpet that needs changing, a 13-year old car with no A/C (Lawd help me this summer), numerous classmates with advanced degrees (regardless of the debt they're in), and no job satisfaction. Sigh...

So, much like you, there's a lesson that I have to learn to count it all joy. Regardless of where you are now, you're not going to be there forever. Remember that for every valley there is a mountaintop.

And you never know, when you get that full-time gig that you've been praying for, you may still want to work at the store to get your employee discount. And don't be surprised if Tall Girl asked you for a hook up! =)

 
At 6:58 AM, Blogger Serenity the SistahGeek said...

This is my first time to your blog, but I am so glad I found it. I have also had a divorce and to say I understand is an understatement, and I, too, have had to take many steps back on my journey to move myself ahead...this post completely resonated with me, I had to read throiugh it a few times.

Just know that you are not alone, in your struggle back to joy. And also know that joy is ttruly ahead for you, this too will pass. It's a temporary glitch, and soon you will be back on top.

I will keep you in my prayers and definitely on my blogroll...

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger Tracie B. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger Tracie B. said...

you are in a temporary situation, like so many of us have been/are in. for all you know, she is in a rough patch too...don't be so hard on yourself and compare yourself to others who SURELY don't have perfect lives!

it sounds to me like you are adaptable and have pulled through a divorce and a move and are doing exactly what you should be--and bravely:)

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Al: So very true...I would rather be working retail than be dead! It's not THAT bad...LOL!

@ Butta: Your words always bring comfort to me. And TRUST, I will be keeping this part-job when I get a full time job...DEFINITELY love the employee discount! And I'll be praying for a mild summer for your sake :o)

@ Serenity: Thank you so much for visiting my site...I'm glad to be of whatever kind of help I can be! And your prayers are very much appreciated! Blessings to you!

@ Tracie: I'm trying not to be too hard on myself...encouragment, like yours, helps me not to be! Non Male!

 
At 3:02 PM, Blogger Nikki said...

What God has for you, it is for you. I wouldn't have been worried about Tall Girl seeing me working retail. Forget that, as long as you're making an honest living and you're striving to rise to the top, you do just that and don't sweat the small stuff.

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Mocha_Grl said...

I have to echo Chele. Nobody is living your life but you. What you were thinking was natural, but you gotta shake that off and realize you've got your own goals and aspirations and you do what you need to do to get there.

It gets hard for EVERYBODY sometimes (well, maybe not Paris Hilton, but she ain't even a person. lol), so hold your head up high, and anyone who wants to look down on you...let them...the people who know you and care about you will always respect you no matter what!

 
At 3:23 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Nikki: I know, sometimes I sweat the small stuff too much...I'm learning though!

@ Mocha: Thanks for stopping by my blog! I will be sure to hold my head high and remember that I am not the only one who has had to struggle. That's just difficult to remember when it seems like everyone in your immediate circle is doing alright for themselves.

LOL @ the Paris comment!

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Knockout Zed said...

You ever get in the situation where you wanna give someone good advice or comfort them and can't think of anything? That's where I am right now.

Just know that somewhere in the wilderness of Michigan, there's someone saying "Screw what the tall girl might think!"

KZ

 
At 11:24 AM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ KZ: Thanks for stoppin' by! And even in your "silence" I feel your support!

@ Everyone: I just want to make it clear that Tall Girl did nothing wrong/did not make me feel bad/was nothing but sweet and excited to see me. I get the impression from some comments that that was not clear. Although...I DO agree that IF (and that is IF) she was thinking anything bad (and I doubt she was...I have since gotten two e-mails from her) that I can't let that bother me.

Okay...I feel better now that I have gotten that off my chest!

THANKS FOR THE LOVE!!!!!

 
At 1:03 PM, Blogger The Sarccastik Variable Why said...

babygirl...you have nothing to be ashamed of...keep your head up like a strong black woman should...it'll be okay...

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger The Sarccastik Variable Why said...

god has a better plan for you...keep praying and i know it will get better...

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Sarccastik: I will definitely keep my head up. Thank you...you have no idea how much your words mean to me!

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger African girl, American world said...

My first time here and I'm moved....wow! I could feel it all thru your writing.

Keep ya head up...

http://hapee2bnapee.eponym.com

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Hapee: Thanks for stoppin' through...come back any time!

 
At 1:59 AM, Blogger Soulfull said...

O boy... this one moved me to tears. We all struggle with those inner thoughts of "am I good enough/have I arrived", but like everyone has said you have nothing to be ashamed of... God is working on a plan-you just stay the course chica! ;)

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger TTD said...

hello, hello.. where are you?? where's a new post?? u post more than me, and i got you beat this week! what's up w/ that??

 
At 6:19 AM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ TTD: LOL...girl, I know. I'm a mess chile! I gotta get back on my A game...you know your slackin' when TTD is puttin' out more posts than you! lOL!

 
At 8:22 AM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Soulfull: Thanks girl...and I'm on the course...with my atlas, compass, GPS and flashlight...LOL!

 
At 7:02 PM, Blogger Ra said...

Was refered here through another blog and I must saying I'm enjoying your posts.

On thing though. Girl hold your head high and walk in your blessings. You are right where you are supposed to be learning what you're supposed to know.

All things work together for good. I know not from hearing it from LIVING it. I hear you, feel you, and send a hug!

 
At 10:42 AM, Blogger Darbs said...

@ Ra: Thanks for visiting my site and for your kind words. (((HUG)))

 

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