I hear the heavy thud of David’s footsteps marching towards my cubicle as I hang up my barn coat. Man, I thought coming into work five minutes early I’d actually be able to sit down take a break and eat breakfast this morning.
David pokes his head in my cubicle with an anxious look on his face. The expensive double-breasted navy blue suit he wears on his burly body makes him look intimidating; I’m afraid to look down to see what brand of designer shoes he’s wearing. He must have a big presentation today.
“Simon, do you have another copy of your Cassandra proposal?” David barks. “I seem to have lost mine.”
I knew he’d lose the first proposal I made for him. Lucky for him I printed out an extra one. “Yeah.” I reply picking up the black binder off my desk.
David snatches the binder out of my hands and marches back down the hall without as much as a thank you. I huff a sigh and stare up at the plastic Dead End road sign posted above my computer. For the past eight years it’s been this way. I do all the work that keeps this Division running while he promotes people who can barely sign their paychecks with an X to junior and senior level management positions.
I flop into my office chair and dump my breakfast out of the brown paper bag onto my desk. I’m frustrated about the whole situation. I’d love to storm into David’s office and demand he promote me. I’m the best research analyst he has and he barely talks to me unless he wants something. And if he didn’t promote me I’d tell him to take his job, shine it up real nice, turn it sideways and shove it straight up his candy-
Unfortunately, a brotha works for ITC Foods and not World Wrestling Entertainment. I can only have my catharsis in a dream sequence. The real consequences I would have to deal with from quitting this job are so severe I’d rather stay here until I died. The cause may be lost but at least I have a course to stay on.
Growing up in the South Bronx living off Section 8 and welfare, I’ve been poor and black. And a brotha don’t want to go back to being poor when he’s just getting used to being lower middle class. I do not want to lose all my hard work to spite some boss who wouldn’t care if I quit five minutes ago. No matter what I do to hurt him, he’ll still have his job and all I’ll feel is better. My Mother gave me that advice eight years ago when I first started working here. Me following it has kept a roof over our heads, food on our table, Christmas presents under the tree and allowed us to save some money in the bank.
Thinking about my Mother I really start feeling guilty about getting angry over David’s latest slight. She had to put up with crazier stuff from Welfare case managers and Section 8 recertification specialists back in the day than any of the stuff I’ve dealt with at ITC. I remember the condescending way they looked down on her as they scrutinized her personal records and asked her humiliating questions about her business. I remember the miserable look she had on her face when she came home after those annual interviews. I promised myself when I was a kid I wouldn’t let her go through that degradation when I got old enough to do something about it. If I have to put up with one greasy suit-wearing Negro for the rest of my life I’ll keep doing it if it keeps her smiling.
Well, I need to smile myself; today is special. I’m starting my ninth year working steady here at ITC Foods. Even though all I’ve got to show for it is my backpack and the shape-up I got on my fade at the barbershop last night I’m still going to celebrate. For breakfast I’m treating myself to a jumbo double chocolate chip muffin and bottle of Nesquik chocolate milk. I even bought myself a multicolored marbled birthday candle to put on top of the muffin. Cheesy, but it works for me.
I was hoping to have my private party over before nine, but it’s exactly nine o’clock. Time to get this party started so I don’t waste any more of ITC’s time. In the private solitude of my cubicle, I unwrap the candle and stick it in the top of the muffin. When the flame glows bright on the candle I blow it out making a wish for the promotion I deserve.