By: Henny Daniels
Whenever Quita walks into the office fifteen minutes late, the chatter volume reactively dwindles to inaudible murmurs; when not around, she’s usually the topic of most conversations. As one of only three black girls in the entire company, her infamy is not solely based on the color of her skin; the issue is the type of black girl that Quita happens to be: proud and unapologetic about who she is and what culture she represents— seeming to embrace every eccentric custom with open arms and appreciation. If being black and loving it was a challenge, Quita would win every time. However, there is a time and place for everything and work is neither.
Of course, she has curves, humps and dimples in all the right places; most of them do. Even more predictable: she always seems to wear clothes that overtly showcase the curve and stack of her body. It’s clear she feels that she has no competition in the building in terms of confidence and self-esteem, which bothers many of us because she really isn’t all that pretty. Plus, work is not about the physical; it’s about completing our tasks promptly and accurately– and let’s not forget, smoothly coexisting while doing so. Her attitude always alters the mood in the office– thinking she’s so high and mighty. Most of us don’t understand what it is in her life that she has to be so proud of; if she saved her money instead of blowing it on weave and make-up, she could actually afford to leave that questionable neighborhood she lives in, or a car that was manufactured in the last decade.
Her mane is a different color, length and texture every two weeks like clockwork—many of the older employees mistake her for a new hire whenever she returns with a fresh, colorful style. No other woman in her age range can fathom how she manages to consistently exceed performance expectations when most assignments are handled virtually. I mean, how does she possibly complete reports and computer-related tasks so efficiently (scoring higher than the entire office) with such obnoxious nails: shaped into long, narrow coffins or sharply pointed cat-claws with no two ever matching in color or design. It seems as if management favors her; which is a point often mentioned when we all talk about her. What happened to the office dress code, anyway? Before she got here, I can vividly remember there being a nail rule. When I asked my supervisor about it, he said the rule had changed. There’s always one who manages to dismantle existing policy and tradition due to selfish non-work-related desires. Why can’t she just be like the other two black girls and stay out of sight and out of the way; why is it that she feels so secure in her position?
Most likely, it’s because she has multiple fathers of her children; she seems like the type to receive child support and food stamps, can’t be old enough to have any post-secondary education. That’s another thing that baffles me about her kind: why does she deserve a break in life because she decided to irresponsibly bring children into this world? I pay my taxes so that she can get a new weave every other week: life is so unfair.
Today she walks in late yet again—the second time this week. Not to sound negative or envious, but she looks to have her make-up done like a drag-queen; it’s caked on with far too many colors—so unprofessional. Against my will, I roll my eyes as she passes by. I know you may be thinking that was mean, but she needed to be knocked off that high horse a little—what makes her better than anyone else? We make eye contact briefly, then she swiftly turns away as if my attention to her is somehow threatening. This is exactly why we could never be friends; I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, and I despise people who do. That energy alone is enough to negatively affect my mood for the rest of the day; I can’t wait to get out of here! Well, I guess it’s about time to really focus and get back to work; I haven’t even begun to put a dent in this pile on my desk. Once again, Quita’s fault.
Approaching the end of the work day, I notice that Quita heads out early: about 45 minutes before the end of her shift (mind you, she came in late too). There’s no way she finished all thirty assignments on her desk that fast; what a slacker! I’m not sure who hired her but whoever it was should have their position seriously evaluated.
On the way out, I’m surprised when I pass her by as she’s talking on the phone in her car. The conversation is loud and once again, unprofessional—even with the windows up. When she notices me next to her, she lowers her voice and appears to hang up the phone. Quickly, I unlock my door, sit down and push the start button on the dash in a fruitless attempt to pull off before engaging in any further interaction. When I turn my back to survey the conditions behind me for safe reversal out of the space, I see her standing at my window; she’s makes a gesture with her hand, requesting that I lower my window. Instead, I hit the gas and pull off in a hurry—thank God for this hemi! I’m sure whatever she had to say can wait until tomorrow—whenever she decides to show up.
As I gather myself and prepare to exit the bed, I release a moan for each ache and pain I feel. Yes, I am getting kind of old—today is my 46th birthday! But age is not the source of my discomfort. Last night I had the fight of my life and thank God, I won.
I’ve been the victim of an abusive relationship for over eight years now, and I am finally free! If you’ve never experienced this or know anyone who has, this is no easy feat. Confusing lust and love, I let a man nearly alter the entire course of my life: switching tracks from supreme success to potential total demise in one fail swoop.
Well, I shouldn’t say one. In fact, if I had to advise other young women in similar situations so that they could escape these traps before reaching fatal consequences, I would be sure to point out that not all domestic abuse is obvious and certainly not uniform. My problem was that I got accustomed to disrespect and verbal abuse. Because of certain feelings (I now know to be trivial) that stemmed from his proper execution of love-making, I let behaviors slide that should have never been accepted. That man destroyed my confidence and self-esteem before he ever raised his hand in anger. There are always warning signs that we ignore before the punches start flying.
Yet and still, I made excuses for him. His logic always seemed to make so much sense— even more than my instinctual need to flee. Another advantage he had was the fact that I have yet to see or feel real love; my parents were never together, and I barely know my father to this day. I feel my concept of love has always been deeply skewed. After the first time he struck me, and I forgave him; he knew he had me— the mask was unveiled and from then on, I was acquainted with his true evil self. Each time this identity emerged, I would be increasingly shocked and appalled—confused as to how his personalities varied so opposingly.
But one thing that most people don’t realize is the devil is a genius; he witnesses your faith and your fight and finds a way to furtively undermine everything godly about you– if you let him. That man was a slow cancer in my soul, and had it not been for the Lord’s favor and enlightenment, he would have been the end of LaQuita Johnson.
Believe it or not, I came to my senses after about four years; the remaining time spent together was all execution of my escape plan. The main issue preventing me from complete separation was our business arrangement together: he was the CEO of a world-renowned Pharmaceutical company that I had shared ownership in along with four other members (all of which were his close golfing buddies); initially it was near impossible to overthrow him; the business was highly successful and the only people who could alter the structure of the company were content with the current arrangements.
To make a long story short, I found a way to prove his fraudulent business practices which I discovered via thorough investigation from the inside. With preapproval from the other board members, I devised a mission to expose his drastic accounting errors and cover-ups by secretly working as an associate at one of our more remote locations. I collected years and literal books of information, proving his illegal practices, and once presented to the proper authorities would surely land him in federal prison.
Last night, I confronted him against my better judgement (with no physical evidence within a fifty-mile range). It was really an accident, but nonetheless I let it slip. His first reaction was laughter; he laughed until his sides hurt; for some reason he just could not believe that I was capable of beating him, after years of the exact opposite. But when he realized that I was serious, he lost his temper like never before. I guess all the times he put his hands on me prior were just out of pure entertainment because last night I could feel every ounce of his anger. When he was done, he washed himself off and watched a game on tv like he had only reprimanded a child—no big deal. He thought he knew me; he thought he had control. There was no way I would move to change ANYTHING about this arrangement; he knew he had affectively pounded that mindset into me. His arrogance allowed for him to turn his back and relax after beating me to a pulp—unconcerned by the threat of repercussions.
But this time I did not merely clean my face and cry myself to sleep. This time, I stood to my feet with a bloody smile; I found my phone and called the police and then took pictures of my injuries. Authorities arrived at our home in the suburbs before he even encountered a commercial interruption. I’m not sure which element of my emancipation provided me with the most pride and joy—whether it be my freedom from his wrath, or my blossoming into the CEO of a multi-million-dollar company. Maybe it was the look on his face when being placed under arrest that provided me with much-needed security and a newfound sense of strength. Whatever the case, I am relieved that it’s finally over.
Today, I think I will return to my desk-job one last time; I found myself enjoying getting back to the basics and simply performing at work—easily exceeding expectations. There were no sharks or politics there; it was oddly pleasant aside from this one white guy who shot me dirty looks at every glance and even tried to have me fired a couple times—it always seems to be the men who are most threatened by me. Yesterday, I tried to talk to the guy—attempt to understand what his problem was. But when I approached his car, he sped out of the parking lot like a maniac—nearly running over my foot. Well today, I’m going back just to fire his crazy behind—teach him a shocking lesson about professionalism. Surely after this, he’ll think twice about judging a book by its cover!