“Franny! Log off your phone and come see me in my office. Now!”
Rhoda stormed out of the call center and into her office. She slammed files down on the desk and took a seat in the chair behind it. Shortly afterwards Franny nervously entered the office and took a seat in front of the large desk wondering what type of abuse she was in for this time. Rhoda wasted no time in tearing into her.
“Franny I just listened to a reservation you took and I was mortified! Do you even know what the hell it is we do here? I’m going to play this call for you and I want you to tell me what’s wrong with it.”
Franny suddenly heard her voice pouring from the speakers on Rhoda’s desk. She was engaged in a conversation with an Australian woman who seemed to be quite confused about where she was trying to go and what type of transportation she needed. The lady’s accent was very thick and Franny had a difficult time understanding her. Franny struggled through the call finally finding the customer’s reservation in the system and booking her return trip from a theme park to her hotel. At the conclusion of the call Rhoda battered Franny with questions, ultimatums and eventually threats.
“Tell me what’s wrong with that call Franny! Do you know?!”
Anxiety and stress flowed through Franny as her heart began to race. She responded in a meek, trembling voice.
“I had a hard time understanding her and I couldn’t find her reservation right away.”
Rhoda quickly interrupted her, excited about the opportunity to reprimand.
“The woman wasn’t at the location that you booked her shuttle van to pick her up at. She was an hour late getting back to her resort and we had to pay for her transport. If it were up to me I would have it taken out of your check!”
Franny was confused because she booked the lady’s reservation back from the theme park she went to that morning to her hotel and made an attempt to confirm it with her. Free transportation was given by the company often daily as a means to resolve customer complaints; it cost very little to the transportation company, they were usually sending vehicles through the location anyway. Franny trembled in her seat trying to think of a way to answer Rhoda’s questions in a way that wouldn’t cause her to further incur the angry woman’s verbal wrath and fury.
“I booked her reservation from the theme park we took her to in the morning and she agreed.”
Rhoda again interrupted with criticism and chastising.
“Well if you would have asked more questions you would have known that she took a taxi from one theme park to another and she needed to go back to her hotel from there. You people are not only reservationists! You are a customer service agent; do you understand me!”
Rhoda’s cold blue eyes protruded out of her pudgy face as she looked over her glasses and down at Franny with contempt in her eyes. Rhoda was truly enjoying herself as Franny looked down and responded submissively.
“Yes ma’am.” Franny answered Rhoda although she was only five years Rhoda’s junior.
“Now Franny I know you need your job because you got custody of your nephew now and ‘yo husband ain’t workin’.”
Rhoda always enjoyed the opportunity to throw what she thought was an ethnic tone or slang into her speaking when reprimanding employees of color. She was always sure to pry as deep as possible into their personal lives so that she would know which way to best intimidate them. If an employee had to miss a day of work due to illness, she would not only want to know what they were inflicted with but how they contracted it, who was treating it and where, how it effected their family, if their spouse would be able to support the family financially without the employee’s help and as many other intimate details about the person’s life that she could force them to divulge.
Most employees would disclose as much information to Rhoda as possible to explain the reason for their absence to preserve their job. Rhoda would pretend to be sympathetic and understanding while they revealed the hurts and pains of their souls and then she would tell them that they could come to her and tell her anything. Her door was always open. Later she would tell any and all juicy details about the employee’s life in a meeting with the upper management of the “good ‘ole boy”, family owned company. They would all sit around and have a good laugh at the expense of an employee while enjoying Rhoda’s portrayal of their plight. Later Rhoda would use the information to intimidate and threaten her employee when necessary; she knew where and how to attack them.
“Now Franny you can consider this a verbal warning but I don’t want to see this again! Do you understand me?!”
Tears of fear, frustration, anger and pain streamed down Franny’s cheeks as she answered her tormentor.
Rhoda felt empowered by the woman’s tears and pleased at the control she held over the woman’s life. She responded to the woman’s tears with revulsion in her voice.
“Now get up and go to the bathroom and wipe your face. I want you back on the phone in six minutes so get yourself together. This meeting counts as your ten minutes break today; I think you need more time on the phone to focus on your job.”
Franny paused trying to gather herself before exiting the office.
Rhoda demanded of her emotionally broken employee. Franny jumped then dragged herself out of the office to mummers and looks of curiosity from her co-workers. Rhoda left the blinds open in the office so that everyone could see her flex her muscles with yet another employee. She enjoyed causing them the embarrassment of being disciplined in eyeshot of everyone else; it increased all of the agent’s level of fear towards her therefore increasing her power over them. Franny looked into the bathroom mirror and wondered to herself exactly what she did wrong and if Rhoda was going to eventually fire her. Franny had to endure great abuse for a mere $8.00 an hour salary that didn’t even pay her bills. Her miniscule earnings kept her in a financial struggle and put her at the mercy of the wicked whims of evil people.
A few minutes later Franny made her way back to her cubicle and tried to sound cheerful on the telephone; she was afraid that Rhoda could be listening and recording every call waiting for her to make a mistake. Meanwhile, Rhoda busied herself with writing up the incident on a “notice to file” form or a “secret write up” as she called it and placed it in Franny’s permanent file. She did this so that she would have the grounds to fire anyone at anytime while duping them into thinking that the situation wasn’t very serious.
Rhoda returned to the call center and ordered another agent into her office, excited and anxious to inflict more pain. Esmeralda was a low key industrious thirty-four year old woman of Latin decent whom Rhoda detested. Rhoda was angry at the woman because of whom and what she was; the fact that Esmeralda had been hired by her boss incensed her more. The center was in need of Spanish speaking agents since all but one had been fired in Rhoda’s sixteen months as Customer Service Manager. Her boss Mr. Means felt it necessary to intervene to insure they had someone on the night shift that was Spanish speaking. Esmeralda was a perfect candidate having six years of customer service experience. She was paid $8.50 an hour because she was bilingual. Rhoda was opposed to Spanish speaking agents being paid more but the policy was in place before she joined the company so she couldn’t prevent it. But, she could make it difficult for them and eventually find a reason to terminate their employment.
Rhoda could deal with African Americans better on most levels; she was used to them, they’ve always been around. Sambo, Mammy, Uncle Tom, Chester, Aunt Jamaima, Mr. Bo Jangles and Uncle Ben were familiar to her. That’s how she viewed “coloreds” like Franny. She knew how to deal with what she considered to be the lesser Negro subservient who had the misfortune to find themselves’ under her dominative authority. Esmeralda spent fifteen minutes in Rhoda’s office being berated for a minor error on a location that had been changed and she was never informed of, Rhoda was aware of this. Esmeralda received an official write up and Rhoda put out a memo with the information on the location a day later but it was dated four days before Esmeralda’s minor error. Rhoda wanted the write up to stand; later she would tell her daughter of her intentions during a thirty minute call on company time.
“Yea, Means thinks he can hire these spics and force ‘em down my damn throat, I’ll show his ass. I’m puttin’ her little taco eatin’ ass on the fast track outta here! I’ll have her ass gone in less than a month. The little bitch even had the nerve to start crying, like I care! That just makes it that much more fun, ha, ha, ha.”
Her daughter responded through laughter.
“Mom you’re terrible. I’ve got to go now; it’s time to pick up the boys.”
“Alright, tell the boys I’ll call them later.”
Rhoda hung up the phone and immediately felt a sharp pain in her side, then another. She put her hand on her lower back as she writhed in pain mumbling to herself.
“Them damn stones are back.”
She had been suffering from kidney stones for the past six years. Some of her employees called them “karma stones”, stating that what goes around comes around. She was just getting some of the pain back that she caused other people all the time. Rhoda constantly spread gossip and dug for details of people’s issues and problems for the purpose of harming them with it. She held subordinates back from progressing in the company by withholding information and baring false witness of their work performance or commitment to the company. She, rarely the advocate for any of her employees, felt threatened by their youth and ambition so she went to great lengths to keep them down. Rhoda was even responsible for the resignation of a Latin supervisor in her department whom she duped into thinking that she loved like a daughter. Confidential information was shared and then shared further with persons not intended to have knowledge of such personal pains. First the “daughter’s” ex-husband’s illness was reveled. He was HIV positive. She was not.
Second she exposed an intimate relationship being had between the “daughter” and an African American manager from a different department thus causing the man to lose his employment through a hypocritical company rule. Upper management dated whomever they wanted; one of the owners’ wives was once, for a short time, a low level employee immediately before becoming his wife. Rhoda promoted the thought of her “daughter’s” “hot blooded Latin ex-husband” coming to their workplace and committing violent acts against them all, in a jealous rage, to her superiors in the company. She always enjoyed working a devious web of deception, wickedly smiling at her handy work. Everyone in upper management was aware of the “daughter’s” deepest darkest secret and passed it around like an office memo. She subsequently quit her job after sharing irate words of hurt and betrayal to all parties involved. She did however stay with her man and build a new life with a new husband.
Many a letter had been written to the human resources department by disgruntle employees claiming everything from verbal abuse to racism. Rhoda loved the movie “Roots”. “Cunta” was a name that she often called her pet at work, a black woman who thought more of her oppressor than herself. She often betrayed her sisters to be in Rhoda’s good graces. After the pet decided to accept a promotion to transfer to another department and was later dismissed by Mary Ellen, “their Rhoda”, Rhoda refused to give her a job. Rhoda was very aware of all of the hardships the woman faced in her personal life and took joy in making her situation that much more bleak. Later she and Mary Ellen would discuss her pet’s strife and laugh about the woman’s children’s lack of clothing, food and late rent payments.
“I guess she better get out there and sell some of that crack rock like the rest of ‘em. I know she’s got plenty of crack heads in her neighborhood.”
Rhoda laughed hysterically with Mary Ellen doubling over at her side. Rhoda was manager to a diligent young lady who was extremely dependable and dedicate to her job; she had much malice for this young lady. She didn’t appreciate the young woman’s attitude. Rhoda wanted her to get involved in the interoffice nonsense by giving up information on her coworkers. She wouldn’t, everything she discussed with Rhoda was work related so Rhoda thought that the “little uppity black bitch”, as she called her, needed to be knocked down off her high pedestal. The young lady applied for positions and Rhoda smiled at her then buried her resume and letter of application every time. She enjoyed doing wicked indirectly almost as much as directly causing someone’s impairment in the workplace by giving inaccurate sub-par reports to her superiors in the company.
When Rhoda learned that the young woman was of Haitian decent and not African American, her negative feelings towards the twenty-five year old grew stronger. She was determined not to have “one of those people” in a position of leadership within the company. More employees, mostly of color, made complaints of harassment and mistreatment to officials in the human resources department to no avail. The “good ole boy” network was alive and well in this company; it would seem that Jim Crow was on the board of directors. Many employees trusted in the system feeling that no one could get away with such appalling behavior in the workplace… they were wrong.
Rhoda’s health gradually took a turn for the worse causing her to take many medications especially to control her pain. She became inflicted with more kidney stones and a cancerous spot on her forehead that had to be treated with laser surgery. Her home life continually got worse as well. Her elderly father lived with her and also had a myriad of health problems as well as being an angry alcoholic. Rhoda’s husband was ill as well and suffered from more severe alcoholism.
The couple hadn’t had made love in three years, but her husband had sex at least once a month courtesy of local drug addicted prostitutes. Rhoda’s daughter was also sickly at a young age suffering from Croans disease. Rhoda found herself keeping her rambunctious yet overweight grandsons more often due to their often absentee father’s flings and binges. The pills became primary in her life. She popped them like candy at work and often thoughts and ideas escaped her. Negative side effects from the drugs became more evident as her addiction to them grew stronger and stronger. They unfortunately no longer eased her pain but she needed them desperately.
Many nights Rhoda sat up and cried, wondering why all of these terrible things were happening to her without giving a second’s thought to how she behaved towards other people daily. All of the lives she adversely affected with her destructive behavior never crossed her mind. She had been littering the lives of other people with lethal loathing not realizing or appreciating that her chickens would one day come home to roost.
“Shut up all that damn noise in there you dumb fat bitch!”
Rhoda was snapped from her self pitying by the sound of her husband’s booming voice as he slurred his drunk words. She could hear him bumping around into the walls of the hallway on his way to the bathroom. Rhoda mumbled curses to herself.
“That dumb ass is probably going to piss all over the damned floor and toilet seat, more mess for me to clean up around here. Shit! Why do I have to go through this?” “Shut ‘yo flabby ass up in there bitch!”
Her husband cursed her for making comments about him that he hadn’t heard. He just knew from history that she would be saying something. When drunk the man could have a violent temper and forget everything by breakfast. Rhoda felt fortunate that her father had drank himself to sleep so she didn’t have to contend with two sick, drunk old men.
“I just want to be held… to be loved. There ain’t no love in my life.”
Rhoda sobbed into her pillow then jumped from pain caused by her friends the stones. She cried harder and felt more depressed as she reached under her bed for her fifth of Wild Turkey. A drink was poured and pills were popped helping her to numb her emotional as well as physical pains, if only temporarily. She awakened two hours later to the sound of her husband urinating on the night stand next to her bed. It took several moments for her to gather her senses and realize what was going on. By that time she had been splashed and sprayed with warm urine as she sat up. Before she could say a word, her husband turned and left the room to return to his bed in the guest room. He was drunk sleep walking again. Rhoda got up to shower away her husband’s waste and was hit with more pain from her “karma stones”. More pills were taken and more tears were shed in the shower. She exited the shower thirty minutes later and changed the linen on her bed. She lay down and looked at her alarm clock; there were only three hours until she had to be to work.
She set her alarm and awoke with the worse case of dry mouth she had ever encountered. After a cup of coffee, shower and putting her face on she felt up to going in to work. Her father and husband would have to fend for themselves on this morning. Her pessimism about her own life turned to optimism as she thought of how she would start her work day with injurious behavior towards a work rival. She planned on putting that “black bitch” in her place just like the rest of them, even if the woman did have twelve years seniority on her in the company and was the only African American manager in the company of 5,200 employees. Rhoda’s juices began to flow as she got closer to the work place and the opportunity to do battle. Conflict and confrontation put a special gleam in her eye and joy in her heart. Rhoda was now ready to once again spend her day littering lives with her lethal loathing and, her night sadly sympathizing with her self inflicted sorrow.
Lethal Loathing Littering Lives
If you litter other’s lives with loathing, there will eventually be perils and putrid pollution in yours.