Full disclosure: this happened six years ago. I started a novel version of it then, but never completed it. (I really should finish that.) But to the best of my recollection, with some details changed and left out to protect the guilty and innocent, this is the way it all went down.
My first job. I took it to get back to New York. All I cared about was that it was in the city. The pay was shit. My bosses… I make a habit of not writing negatively about my former employers and co-workers. The gig paid my bills and got me back to New York and for that I am eternally grateful. The people were a cast of Seinfeld characters (take that how you want it), but the job wasn’t so bad. I was charged with going around New York City making presentations about a particular topic. I got to interact with a lot of teenagers and it’s also the reason I’ve memorized most of the subway system (ask Penelope, by memory I can get you anywhere with minimal transfers and I can always find a subway station.) It was pretty fun sometimes, and I was good at what I did. It got me comfortable talking in front of crowds and my public speaking skills are still on point from that.
The average age of the worker bees was 25. There were about 70 of us, and only maybe 12 of us were Black. As the new chick in the office, I garnered a fair share of male interest. I realized this when my boss at the time commented (a little resentfully) on the amount of time a few of my Black male co-workers spent at my desk. Arthur was in his sixties; John was a late 30-something (old to my 23 year old mind) and married with four kids. Another was old and sleazy (I stopped speaking to him after he complimented my “pretty tongue”). There was a cutie who virtually ignored me (he eventually became my boyfriend of 2 years. Have I told that story?), and then there was Jackie, who was too short (5’9”) too yellow, had hazel eyes and wore the hell out of a suit.
Jackie was only 27 or so, but somehow was more senior staff than the juniors like the rest of us. And whereas everyone else, including the executives, came to work in casual wares, or in their government worker best (with rare exception, rumpled and untailored), everyday Jackie looked like he’d stepped off the pages of Men’s Vogue (which didn’t exist at the time). He dressed like he was an IB (investment banker) instead of a city worker. We’re talking a Rolex (not the “cheap” one), tailored Armani suits and Hugo Boss ostrich hard bottoms… to a government job. (I know the designers because he would tell me and anyone listening several times a day.) Unless you’re the billionaire Mayor of our fair city, that just doesn’t happen if you work for a government agency. But everyone has different priorities… some people spend on cars, some on electronics, some on housing. Jackie had to be spending all his dough on clothes. Back then, I had no judgment on that.
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