Sitting in my usual place, I have my magazines placed, my homework laid out, my pen, my pencil, my highlighters set out, I’m plugged in, and I’m taking calls.
Just another work day for me.
The great thing about working an early morning shift is the time in-between calls. I was usually able to get all of my homework done while waiting for the phone to ring.
This morning, it’s 5:30ish, not quite 5:45, I’m talking to a man with an accent on the phone. Everything is fine. Phone calls are the same. You say the same thing over and over, and over again. It’s rote. You know it so well, there is no way to un-know it.
Thank you for calling Embassy Suites…
The great thing about working for a hotel chain, wait – okay, there is more than one – I learned geography, I learned geography all over the US, and the world. Everywhere there was a hotel, I was able to learn about that location. So, I learned the difference between The Peabody in Tennessee, and Peabody (Pe-Ba-dee), Massachusetts. Dulles, Va. and Dallas, Tx. Nacogdoches, Tx. and Natchitoches, La. These are different locations, yet sound similar. So, knowing the difference and being able to communicate the difference to customers over the phone is important. I’m saving the company money by doing my job well. I’m saving the customers hassles by having their reservations at the correct location.
Secaucus, NJ. I need a room in Secaucus, NJ.
The other great thing about working for a hotel chain is the discounts. Being able to stay at the hotels at such a discounted rate afforded me the ability to not only travel, but travel to the hotels which allowed me information that I could not get by reading my computer screen.
I want to check-in now.
I stop him there.
If you would like to check-in now, you will have to pay for two nights.
It’s not something most people know when staying at a hotel. The same. The answers are usually the same. It can be mind-numbing. Being able to answer a question that has not yet been asked. Because every phone call was just about the same. You had a list, things you had to say in order to pass your evaluations as an employee. For me, I did everything the same, same manner, same order, that way there could be no mistakes or confusion.
Ok. He said, as if it was not a problem, or money was not a problem, or he had already known that he had to pay for an additional night.
Sir, for your party size you will need two rooms.
Ok. Also, not a problem, as if he had been well-prepared.
It’s so early in the morning most of the supervisors are not yet in, however there is something new on my computer screen. A note about training at 10:30. I have no way of knowing if this is real information, or just something on my computer screen. It happened. Sometimes, it happened. IT worked in the live system that isn’t always information, or real, etc.
Training room, 10:30: It was a real note after all. We are being trained on a new way of communicating. I have to interject comedy into the very dull, dry, and boring training.
I disagree a lot.
I disagree with the way things are run.
Starting when I was just a kid in school, and I thought kids shouldn’t have to take the school bus. I thought kids should have their own roads, so they could drive themselves to school. Kids would be separate from adults, so no one would get hurt. Independent thinker from an early age.
People are laughing. This is how I’m known at work. And, I’m allowed to interrupt and make the class laugh because it is improving the work environment, and facilitating the information.
I raise my hand to ask a question about what I am reading on my computer screen. The trainer cannot answer my question, and sends us back to the phones.
Then, it happens.
The crash landing happens.
News about the crash happened, and I am off the phone. Nearly the whole floor rushes to the break room with the brightly colored walls, to watch the news, to see the planes hit The World Trade Center.
It’s a shock.
It’s the unthinkable.
It’s shock, and I am scrambling. My mind, my head, time…what?! How long have I been off the phone? I am looking around at my co-workers for answers, for help because I have to talk to people to understand what I am seeing.
Sitting down across the way, a blonde man (I forget his name) who wore glasses, whose brother also worked there, the more intelligent of the two brothers, tells me he thinks its terrorists. What?! Terrorists?! They really exist?! I had always thought terrorists were made up stories like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Boogy-Man. Terrorists?! What?
The top-level leaders are out in the break room watching the televisions which is unusual for them to be seen out of their offices.
I get to leave work early that day. Whew! I go rushing to school. It was my schedule. But, cars are leaving en masse from the school as I approach the parking lot. I drove past people who looked like they are telling people and cars to leave. This is unthinkable. I have to get to school. I have to get to class. It is my schedule. However, when I arrive my teacher is leaving. The school is shut-down? How is that possible?! No, I can’t go home now. Shock.
Eventually, I leave school to watch the news with a friend from school. Brandon Ale House. We, the Thespians used to go there after rehearsals to hang out. I just couldn’t go home yet.
There are two people who I worked with while at the hotel chain. There was an older man, late fifties, early sixties who I loved to pieces. He had a younger work buddy. It happens. Work buddies, work husbands, work wives, people need connections, so usually you pair up just like in life. He had a younger male work buddy who followed him wherever he went. He was fun, I loved to talk with him and make him laugh. I loved him to pieces. He scared me half to death, one time. Upon greeting him in the hallway, he picked me up, lifted me over his head. I nearly died. I was so embarrassed. I was so embarrassed by my weight. I weighed probably 175 – 185 lbs. Plus, he was so much older than me, I didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. But, I did love him. To pieces. He was a favorite of mine.
The other person was a woman I remember stopped me at my locker and said, you look like Jodie Foster.
This is where I tune out. My eyes are rolling in the back of my mind.
She said it more than once when I worked with her. Was she trying to call me gay? I have no idea why or for what reason she called me Jodie Foster, however I ignored her from that moment on. I was at work. It is not a place to create discord, or make enemies. It is too easy for problems to arise. Like I said, I ignored her, and tuned her out. Yeah, yeah, whatever you say…someone says something so dumb to me…I mean, come on. Her opinion of me does not make me. Her opinion, or anyone else’s opinion of me does not make me…me.
I define me.
I defied her by ignoring her, and not engaging in conversation with her other than polite work conversation.
Now, I am at home. I cannot move from the television. I cannot stop watching the news. The BBC became my favorite channel. I was so taken aback at the emotion of the reporters from the other side of the world upset, worried, concerned, and wanting to help. Wanting to help people they didn’t know. For a country that was not their own. It moved me.
Unconsolable. How long did I stay in front of the television? Weeks? Months? I could not abide anyone who was not moved, or shocked, or marked by the Sept. 11th event.
Try and have a nice day.
This is a focus puller moment for me.
This is where the world stops.
This is where my periphery goes away.
This is where it is just he and I on the phone.
Try. Try? No, this is a problem.
Now, my brain is working. He is an educated man, but not an Ivy league education. If he has a degree from one of those schools, he did not do the work himself. There is no background noise. I literally could almost see him over the phone.
I had talked to him about being able to see The World Trade Center from the hotel. I had just been to New York City, and The World Trade Center a month before. It was very current in my mind. So, all those images from the WTC, and the crash, I had just walked in the same places that were now gone and destroyed.
It could have been me. It could have happened when I was there. I felt transported. Everytime the news was on, I felt myself in New York City, in that place. It was a sort of limbo.
The new reports when the crash first happened were almost screaming at people to report and share any information at all. Then, a few days later it was as if reporters were telling people to shut up. Too much bad information, and we the public, were overloading those who were trying to get the real information.
No, try. No, this was a problem.
Now, most people might have instantly picked up the phone to call in the tip. You cannot be surprised that I did not call it in. For the reason is not complicated at all. Doubt. Doubt had entered my mind. Why didn’t I remember the phone call before? Why did it take me days to remember it? Did I make it up? Did I remember it because I wanted to be someone who could help. I didn’t want to be the person who wasted the time of those gathering information. Would it actually be useful? Would it actually help? Was it actually real?
Doubt from the new reporters is what stopped me from ever reporting the phone call. However, in all these years the memory has remained the same. Try. No, try. No, this is a problem.
Inauguration Day 2013, I am standing in line with other Organizing For America staff alumni waiting for the DNC to open the doors – freebies. I am standing with my arm in a cast which I had chosen black since I wanted it to match my formal wear for the staff ball. Luckily, my jacket fit over my cast.
I had nearly frozen my feet off, as I had not anticipated standing on The White House lawn that the ground would have been so cold. It chilled me from my feet up. There was the group who shared their heat pacs with me to help keep me warm. There were the two men from Idaho, was it? Or somewhere rural that didn’t quite seem to fit. We had church together – is what I called it, singing on The White House lawn. There was the older woman who remembered her place with her group by looking for my hat.
So, I am standing in line now, waiting for my freebies when I start a conversation with a man from Texas. We got on the subject of movies. I start talking about Zero Dark Thirty, and the great thing about movies. Movies have the ability to create history. So, I said the greatest thing about Zero Dark Thirty is that for all eternity, what will be known is that Osama Bin Laden was defeated by a woman. One woman.
It is more powerful than words.
In a culture where women are regarded as less and not seen as being worthy of education, or rights, or free speech. A woman defeated him. A woman. One woman.
Please, for clarification do not take this out of context. Of course, it was more than one woman. There were many that helped, men and women that were involved, however the message for all the world to know from Zero Dark Thirty is that one woman defeated Osama Bin Laden.
Now, follow me for just a second. If instead of hiding women, and keeping women from being more powerful, or simply keeping women from having the choices in life up to them, they allowed women equal access, and equal opportunities what could happen in their countries, and in the world? In a region of the world with such great resources what they could possibly accomplish?
Now, I believe I have been assessed and permanently wronged. And, my body is permanetely disfigured because of it.
Not an interview.
Not everyone has God moments. Not everyone walks a concentration camp, and has God speak to them. Not everyone has Katherine and Heathcliff moments. Not everyone sees people over the phone. Not everyone has the ability to take snapshots and photographs in their mind. Not everyone is given a sixth sense. Yet, when they cut open my stomach they took that sixth sense away from me, and the ability to see beyond.
Speaking with “Aubrey” on the phone after my Toyota was totaled, she said she called to ask me how my interview went. To which I replied that was not an interview. The white pick-up truck – I still remember the exact location of this conversation – to my right, I saw the driver turn and look at me as I said this. So, obvious to me, he was listening to my conversation, and in a taller vehicle so he could see in my car. I mean, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I am not a criminal. I had nothing to hide.
Yeah, I have no idea what that was, but that was not a job interview. I have no idea what that job was, I told “Aubrey”. For nothing about that place read correct. There was the cop car under the bridge as I drove up, there was the silence in the parking lot, there was the emptiness of the building, there were the people I spoke with, there was the quirky receptionist who asked me to face the picture on the wall, there was the other applicants, there was the lack of supplies in the office that said no one works here, there was the turn the interviewer made toward the window when I asked him a question he couldn’t answer, there was his tone of underestimating and not understanding the work I had just done, etc. Just to name a few.
It’s tough work, he said.
I tuned out. I am rolling my eyes in the back of my head. I just elected a President. I am more than capable of selling televisions to people who already want to buy them.
Tough work, please. You must be joking. That man had no idea what tough work actually is.
One night, while watching television as I am making sure my mother’s sleep is not interrupted by another stroke there is a helicopter outside so low to the ground I thought they were going to land. It sounded as if it was hovering over the house that had just done renovation work turning one of their bedrooms into a closet. They posted pictures on Facebook. I thought it was a beautiful closet. I looked at all the details, it had a chandelier, shelves and shelves, it was pretty.
So, assessed and wronged because I believe there were those that knew it was not possible. I believe that was a real call. I believe I was called afterward to understand me since I took the call. But, they knew. It doesn’t take very long to know me at all.
I am one of those that it is not possible. Can, I be misguided? Sure, anyone can. But, possible with intent. No. Never. Not possible.
And, it was known.
Yet, I believe there were others that distorted the truth because it is what they wanted to be the truth rather than actual fact.
So, I am greatly grieved.
I am at an unrecoverable loss.