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From Vandal To Victor...

~Seashell; Horseshoe; Mermaid~ Word Hunt Challenge <Fiction>

By Tiffany Gordon Published about a year ago Updated about a year ago 7 min read
36

Trigger Warning: Racial Discrimination; Racial Tension

Meeka Wentworth was excited to begin her first day working at the ever-busy Financial Aid office at Stapleton University in Sandalwood, CA. Forty candidates had competed for the coveted Computer Aide position; only three were chosen.

The heavy wooden office door swung open slowly, revealing a pretty Caucasian woman who looked to be on the verge of becoming a quadragenarian.

The young woman was dressed impeccably. She wore a purple & grey striped, silk blouse, an eggplant-colored leather pantsuit, and a pair of grey leather snake-skinned ankle boots. Her fine, dark-blonde hair was neatly swept up into a tight French Roll that made her look nearly a decade older. Mother of Pearl earrings, a matching necklace, and a purple, silk headband adorned with a gigantic grey seashell completed her sophisticated look.  

"Hola! I am Miss Bee. I am so pleased to have you on board my friends!" the Taylor Swift look-alike exclaimed a little too enthusiastically as she motioned for each of the new recruits to have a seat at a long table in the middle of the room.

"I bet all three of you are eager to learn more about your work assignments!" Miss Bee proclaimed excitedly.

"I'll start with you two," Miss Bee said as she pointed in the general direction of a wiry, po-faced Latinx guy with a tattoo of a mermaid on his left bicep and a tall, red-haired, Caucasian girl with shamrock-green glitter heavily dusted on her eyelids and a horseshoe-shaped nose ring occupying her left nostril.

"Rodrigo Torres and Makenzie Lewis, you both will be stationed out in the front lobby at our computer kiosk area. You will be responsible for answering any basic financial aid questions that students may have. You will also be assisting students with completing their online FAFSA forms. Also, any complex financial aid questions that you receive should be forwarded to me," Miss Bee said authoritatively.

"How does that sound, Rodrigo and Makenzie?" Miss Bee asked cheerfully.

"Kool," Nose Ring Girl, and Mermaid Boy replied in unison. Each collectively managing to muster up the enthusiasm of two deceased fruitflies.

Miss Bee turned to her left, and without looking Meeka in the eye, she nonchalantly said:

"As for you, Myesha Bentfork, most of the day you will be working in the back office supply room shredding documents. You will also be responsible for making coffee runs for me and my staff for our morning meetings and for cleaning and sanitizing our student computers at the beginning of your shift before our student population arrives for the day."

Directly following announcing Meeka's work assignment, Miss Bee purposely avoided making eye contact with Meeka by becoming overly transfixed on a spot on her blouse. Apparently, a tiny dollop of toothpaste had run away from home and had found a new residence atop a button on the front of Miss Bee's blouse, and it had suddenly become the most fascinating thing in the world to her.

"Uh, okay... but will I get to work with the students tomorrow?" Meeka inquired politely without bothering to correct her boss's mispronunciation of her name.

"Maybe next semester, hon. We have all the help in the front lobby that we need right now," Miss Bee responded expeditiously, a saccharine smile quickly forming on her diminutive red lips.

"The ad indicated that there were three Computer Aide openings available in the Financial Aid department," Meeka replied calmly.

"Was the original ad incorrect?" Meeka asked straightforwardly, a look of confusion slowly spreading across her cocoa-brown face as she spoke.

"There was originally a third Computer Aide position available, but we found someone to fill it. My stepdaughter Mimi has graciously volunteered to fill in while Rodrigo and Makenzie are in class. So we're all set in the Computer Aide department," Miss Bee replied quickly.

Wasn't that sweet of her?" Miss Bee added with a Cheshire grin.

"Yeah... I guess so... but was there some reason why I wasn't chosen to work upfront this semester?" Meeka asked with a hint of apprehension in her voice.

"Honesty is always the best policy in my book, so I guess I better level with you, hon. I found Mimi, Rodrigo, and Makenzie to be the best choices to represent the face of Stapleton University's Financial Aid department because of the special pride that they take in their appearance. "

"At the end of the day, we are an institution of higher education, and we must be mindful of our image at all times. As one of the gatekeepers of this great establishment, it pains me to see all of the rap video emulations and ghetto aesthetics that have begun to spring up around campus. Such visual monstrosities are low class and have no place in academia; they actually belong in the trash can," Miss Bee declared adamantly.

"As one of the top universities in the country, we must put our best foot forward at all times. I hope that you understand my logic, Myesha," Miss Bee concluded as she eyed Meeka's box braids like they were a visible-to-the-eye venereal disease that might reach out and infect her at any moment.

Meeka was in complete shock about the differential treatment that she was experiencing. She'd never experienced anything like it in all of her nearly 20 years. She suddenly realized that the stereotypes associated with her long braided hairstyle and African-American heritage were being used as an excuse to limit her employment opportunities at Stapleton University.

As hard as she tried, Meeka simply couldn't understand Miss Bee's viewpoint. Horseshoe-shaped nose rings and mermaid tattoos were acceptable in the workplace, yet her beautiful waterfall of box braids were seen as trashy? Make it make sense! The double standard literally made Meeka sick to her stomach. It didn't matter that she was dressed modestly in a pink dress suit and tights; unfortunately, she would always be seen as a ghetto, bum-gyrating, low-class, hood rat-rap video girl by closed-minded bigots like Miss Bee.

Meeka simply couldn't believe how her day was shaping up. Earlier that morning, she had been followed around the CVS store across the street from campus for thirty minutes like she was some type of criminal, and now, less than an hour later, she was being judged yet again for the way that she looked? 

Meeka could feel her face flushing and her ears growing warm, but she would not blow her lid publicly; she refused to let her adversary see her sweat.

Meeka decided that the story wouldn't end there; she had an idea.

"Excuse me for a moment, everyone. I have to use the lavatory," Meeka blurted out as she walk-ran out of the room.

Once Meeka made it into the safety of the courtyard outside, she immediately let out a visceral scream. Once she regained her calm, she reentered the building and headed into the malodorous, graffiti-wallpapered rest room nearby. Once inside, she reached into her purse and pulled out her favorite fire-engine red lip color, then sloppily wrote: 'Miss Bee from Financial Aid is a Racist Bigot!' on the lavatory mirror in cursive, then she quickly sprinted outside to her car and headed back home for the day.

Meeka didn't know if she would come back in a couple of hours to erase her big revelation, but for now, it felt good to be an anonymous whistleblower.

Epilogue: You know, I couldn't allow my girl to go out like that! LOL 😂

Alternate Ending: Meeka felt a sudden prick in her conscience. She knew that the Lord didn't like ugly therefore she returned to the campus lavatory armed with a can of Scrubbing Bubbles and a bottle of Windex and proceeded to erase her mistake. She knew in her heart of hearts that the mirror stunt was childish, not to mention a load of passive aggressive bullcrap. 

After speaking to her academic counselor about the incident the next day, Meeka learned that the campus Diversity Office had recently hired an Equity Officer to investigate and to correct potential incidents of discrimination on campus.

Meeka decided to take a chance by reporting her discriminatory encounter with Miss Bee to the campus Equity office.

It turned out that Meeka was not the only African-American that Miss Bee had mistreated. In fact, over the last nine months, five African-American employment applicants had been asked inappropriate questions about their wardrobe choices & hairstyle preferences during their in-person interviews with Miss Bee, and because of the sheer volume of complaints that Miss Bee had received, she was immediately placed on administrative leave while a formal investigation took place. 

If Miss Bee were in fact found guilty of discrimination, she would be immediately let go.

Approximately one month and one day after Meeka filed a formal complaint against Miss Bee, Miss Bee was found guilty of implementing discriminatory employment practices against African-Americans in the workplace and was promptly fired as a result.

Meeka reapplied and was rehired to work in the Financial Aid department. Fortunately, this time around, she worked for a very kind and respectful supervisor, a Willie Nelson doppelganger named Mr. Mitchell. Under Mr. Mitchell's tutelage, within eight months, Meeka Wentworth became second in command in the Financial Aid Office.

Meeka was super proud that she had handled her moment of hardship with grace. At the end of the day, it truly felt good to go from a vandal to a victor.

The End :)

Classical
36

About the Creator

Tiffany Gordon

I am a super-spiritual, fun-loving artist, writer, & peer-counselor residing in the Pacific Northwest. I am also an Institute of Children's Literature alumna who enjoys writing about the triumph of the human spirit.

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Comments (30)

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  • Linda Rivenbark11 months ago

    This story has me hooked from the time Ms. Bee started talking to Meeka. As I realized where Ms Bee was going with.giving the coveted assignments to two others who showed no real interest in the job, I felt both angry and embarrassed at the way she addressed Meeks...even calling her by a totally wrong name! I liked both endings, but the second one brought about the needed changes. Cheers for you and Meeka! Well done, my friend!

  • Dorothy Gibbs12 months ago

    Thought-provoking

  • Alexandria Stanwyck12 months ago

    I really related to this story. I am mixed (African-American and Caucasian), although I am more commonly confused with the Latina community. Besides the point, I didn't truly face racial discrimination until my early twenties. I handled it like a champ, but it still hurt to be judged based on the color of my skin.

  • Caroline Jane12 months ago

    Well done Tiffany. I can certainly believe that this is a true story although why such bigotry exists in this world is beyond me. So sad and so bloody annoying tbh! The dual ending is a fab idea.. not least because it really shows that no matter what, all of us have the chance to go again. Great story. ❤

  • Julia Schulz12 months ago

    Very good writing and I am sorry for your mistreatment..glad you could channel it into a story!

  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    Wow, I'm so sorry this had some personal truth in it. And that it's a truth for too many that face discrimination. People like Miss Bee are ugly on the inside, and that's not an easy change to make. I hope losing her job taught her something invaluable. And I love that you included both endings. What courage she had to stick up for herself and seek justice. Amazing story!!

  • Sara Wilsonabout a year ago

    This was a great story. I have to say I prefer the alternate ending only owing to the fact that Meeka decided to not stoop as low as Miss Bee. It's SO hard to be graceful in situations like this but so iconic. That being said, I don't blame Meeka for blasting her because discrimination is disgusting. I was discriminated against for my skin color from a pretty well known indie makeup brand. They were hiring artists and swatchers a few years ago, I applied for both positions. They reviewed my work and had said they loved it and that I would be perfect for either job. They asked my preference on which I would actually choose if given the chance. I decided I would love to be the artist because I create tons of makeup looks using their products and ultimately it sounded like more fun. After about a week, no one had reached out like they said they would, so I decided to reach out. I was rudely told that if I had the job, they would have reached out to me and that upon a discussion, they had come to the conclusion that I wasn't "diverse enough" to represent their line. Over the next few weeks, I saw pictures of beautiful talented girls who had obviously been chosen over me. However, not a single one was fair skinned. Some people don't view it as discrimination... but it is what it is. I don't use the makeup brand anymore. I never called them out in public (though I have wanted to for sure -_- ) Honestly, I long for the day where people really aren't judged based off appearances of any kind because it's so stupid and disgusting. Beautiful story. <3

  • Gerald Holmesabout a year ago

    This is perfectly done. There is a real lesson in this. Always think before you act. I love that Meeka took the high road and didn't fall to Miss Bee's level of stupidity. Excellent writing.

  • Pauline Fountainabout a year ago

    I had actually read and thought I’d commented. Thank goodness I saw you post on Facebook! Your descriptive language with character development very much set the tone of the story. I was able to form my own visual depiction of each (and isn’t this a gift you have!) This is so relevant in the workplace now. To be a woman. To be a woman of colour. At University and in the workplace should not be a barrier. Yet it remains so and it hurts. It made me angry but Meeka questioned from the beginning and with a her feisty and courageous questioning - I’m not sure at such an age I’d be so brave. I loved this. And a challenging set of words to conceptualise from the Word Hunt Challenge! Well done!! Pauline 🌸

  • Mariann Carrollabout a year ago

    Unfortunately, this is still happening in today society. It’s sad that you have to go through the process to get justice. Not everyone have time to fight for Justice and just quit. I give kudos for those who fight and end up getting justice. I am glad you are writing about social justice stories 🥰Excellent story in putting your point across

  • Judey Kalchik about a year ago

    We can read and call it a story but I know it probably happened for real somewhere today. ‘The Lord didn’t like ugly’ has changed my actions many a time. great writing about a not great truth

  • Rick Henry Christopher about a year ago

    Super fantastic story Tiffany and very well written. Excellent character development.

  • Phil Flanneryabout a year ago

    As much as I understand the first ending, the alternate was much better.

  • L.C. Schäferabout a year ago

    Thirtieth decade? That doesn't sound right 🤔

  • Naomi Goldabout a year ago

    Miss Bee? Was that subtle shade on your part? Because I could only think of her as Miss Bitch. 😋 I loved the alternate ending so much, because I was angry for Meeka, and hoping she would do something. Anger has such transformative powers. Yeah, the lipstick incident might have felt good in the moment, but no real change would’ve occurred. Thank you for allowing her to channel that anger into action, and getting that B fired! I also loved the reveal at the end that her name is Meeka Wentworth, not “Myesha Bentfork.” It’s so disrespectful when people don’t even try to get a name right. That, along with everything else (like refusal to make eye contact) was a perfect “show don’t tell.” Brilliant writing, Tiffany!

  • C. H. Richardabout a year ago

    I like the alternate endings. In real life I may have left the lip stick writing. Unfortunately there are too many Miss Bees around. Well done my friend. Nice take on the challenge 👏 ♥️

  • Dana Crandellabout a year ago

    Loved both endings for different reasons. I also love the way you built the imagery. Great job and a great challenge entry!

  • Leslie Writesabout a year ago

    Glad justice was served in the alt ending, but I know that in real life that isn’t always the case. Fantastic challenge entry! 💖

  • Gina C.about a year ago

    A truly powerful story, Tiffany. 🥹❤️ I could felt your heart beating in this. I really loved the possibility of an alternate ending -- how clever! 😍😍 Amazing job!

  • Ok, Sis, I love this story and also the styling is impeccable 💖✨👑

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    This is great. Love how you gave two possible endings. Well done, my friend.

  • Novel Allenabout a year ago

    Everything just goes around and comes around it seems. Taking the high road is never a wrong answer. Positivity has to prevail if we are ever going to win the daily fight for survival. A story from the beginning of time my friend. Just with better tools to fight them. Well said.

  • Dana Stewartabout a year ago

    This is a great read! The story played out in my mind as watching a movie. Descriptive and such good flow. You incorporated the hidden words so creatively! Miss Bee is an old bitty and I feel satisfied with that alternative ending - Fantastic idea, by the way! Team Meeka!

  • Whoaaa, Miss Bee was a big time B! I loved when Meeka wrote on the mirror with lipstick. I wasn't quite happy when you made her clean it buttttt so glad you gave Meeka an even more victorious ending. Loved your story!

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