Now, I was gonna share a different story today, but I found myself compelled to share this story. I don’t know why, but I really felt like I needed to share this story. It’s a sad but necessary story about honestly being at the wrong place at the wrong time. At the same time, this is a story about being at the right place at the right time. This is “Checking Out a Scared, Black Woman.”
Last week, I was working my usual 6am-2pm shift on Friday. I was extremely tired because I had about two hours of sleep. I was up till midnight writing a story, and I ended up watching Pulp Fiction after I was done writing. Now, I usually watch The Twilight Zone or some horror movie before going to bed, but I wanted to watch Pulp Fiction that night. I’ve seen it a lot, and it’s one of my favorite movies behind The Matrix, my all-time favorite. However, I really wanted to see Pulp Fiction again because I had just watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in theatres and wanted to get my “Quentin Tarantino” on. It was necessary, and sleeping isn’t that important, right?
Anyways, I was struggling to stay awake. Even with coffee in my system, I was a literal zombie. My coworker Marie is used to me being all sleepy and tired, but she said, “I can’t believe you do this to yourself. How are you functioning? You need to get at least five hours of sleep. Minimum.”
I laughed and said, “Marie, you know me. I can’t help that I’m a late-night writer, and I enjoy a good scary movie before going to bed. I’m only human, Marie.”
We both start laughing, and Marie just calls me silly. It’s around 7 am, and my manager, Michael, sends out a new person to me and Marie to train. Her name is Jenn, and she was really nice and cool to work with. Marie explained to Jenn that me and her were extremely tired, but we promised to perk up at around 9 or 10 am. An hour passes, and I’m slowly but surely starting to wake up. Plus, Marie and I are training Jenn, but for the most part she was doing pretty good on her own. Also, it was kind of slow in the store. Everything was alright. Then, everything changes when I’m stocking cigarettes, and I hear, “Excuse me, sir.”
I turn around and see a black woman in front of my register. She’s pretty, and she’s about few years older than me. However, I could tell that she was a little scared. Not knowing what’s going on, I said, “Yes mam.”
“Can I talk to you really quick?,” she asked.
She was a little quiet asking me, so I leaned in and whispered, “Yeah that’s fine.”
Then, she asked me if we could actually talk in private. I told her that it was perfectly fine and suggested that we talk in the dining room. She started walking to the dining room, while I followed after her. Luckily, we weren’t busy, and Marie had Jenn helping her up front. So, it was fine for me to talk to this black woman.
Anyways, I’m in the dining room with the black woman, and I asked her if everything was alright. She started crying a little and explained that she was drunk and far from home. She lived at North Side, and she somehow ended up in Jefferson Hills. She apologized to me for smelling drunk, and I assured that she was fine. Then, she continued, “Yeah, I ended up going to a party I shouldn’t have gone to. I was drinking too much. I don’t remember much of what happened, but I know these white guys…they…you…know did things to me.”
She was having a hard time breathing, and I just told her to just sit down and take a deep breathe. She quickly sat down and tried to catch her breathe. I sat down as well, and I was assuring her that it was alright. Then, she added, “I’m so scared because my kids are home alone, and I just can’t believe that I was so irresponsible and go to that stupid party.”
She was really beating herself up, so I looked at her and said, “Look, you’re fine now. You did the responsible thing by coming here and seeking some help. It’s better that you’re in here than out there. You’re being responsible now.”
She thanked me for my encouragement and explained that she didn’t have any money. Also, her phone was dying, and she was having a hard time reaching a friend. So, she had no way of getting home. Then, I asked her if she maybe wanted to call the police about the incident. She responded, “No, no, no cops. I just want to forget about last night and go home to my kids.”
I understood that she just wanted to go home, but I still wished that she reported what happened to her to the authorities. Even though I don’t know all the details about her assault, her trembling and crying illustrated to me that she had been through some serious trauma. I wish that she wanted justice for herself, but I understood that she was drunk, tired and ready to forget and be home with her kids. She saw the whole situation as her fault for getting drunk, and she just wanted to forget the mistake she made. Yes, she was drunk, but that doesn’t give men the right to do whatever they wanted to her. Her behavior and drunkenness is not a free pass for men to do with her as they please. She kept saying to me that she should’ve known better, but in reality it’s the white men that hurt her that should’ve known better. They’re the ones that hurt her . They’re the ones that assaulted her. They’re the ones that took advantage of her. How could she not see that? How could she place more blame on herself than on the white men that hurt her? Then, I remembered that it’s the society that we live in. It’s a toxic society that has infected both men and women. It’s a society that places more blame on women for their “mistakes” rather than help them seek justice from the tyranny of evil men.
Anyways, I told her that I understood that she didn’t want the cops involved and asked if she wanted something to drink like coffee or water. She said that water would be fine, so I went and got her a cup of water. When I came back with the water, I was still trying to figure out how she could get home. I was suggesting to maybe take the bus, but she didn’t want to take the bus. Then, I said, “Well, I’m not sure what we can do. I can maybe talk to my manager and see if he has a solution.”
“Wait, is your manager white?”
I told her that he was, and I could tell that made her uneasy. So, I assured her that my manager Michael was nice, and he would do his best to help her. I added that she could trust me, and he wasn’t going to call the cops. She said okay, and I went to my manager’s office.
I told Michael everything that was going on with the black woman, and he handled everything with compassion and respect. Michael talked to her a little, gave her a sausage burrito and a breakfast sandwich and assured that everything was going to be alright. He pulled me to the side and explained how he offered to give her money for the bus, but she didn’t want to do that. Also, he could tell that something serious had happened to her, but she didn’t want to tell him. I explained to Michael that she talked to me about it, and he was relieved with that. Then, he told me to just do inside trash, but also to keep an eye on her. Make sure she doesn’t fall asleep and just check on her and make sure she’s doing alright.
I was thankful and glad that Michael was there as the manager that day. He’s one of the most compassionate managers I ever worked for, and I just couldn’t imagine another Sheetz manager dealing with the scared, black woman as Michael did. He kept it quiet, and he showed her so much kindness and respect to her. Michael was honestly the right manager at the right time.
Anyways, I was checking on the woman like Michael instructed. Making sure that she was doing alright. She told me that Michael was nice to her, and someone was coming to pick her up. They ended up coming at around 9 am to pick her up and taking her home to her kids.
Despite being at the wrong place at the wrong time at the party, I was so glad that the woman ended up being at the right place at the right time at Sheetz.
This is the end of “Checking Out a Scared, Black Woman.”
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