I almost broke my ankle running up the stairs. My 80-pound American Stafford terrier, Samson, dragged me along our walk like he had an important meeting to return to. I did, though, and wasn’t excited about it. I dreaded these company meetings; I hadn’t figured out how to pretend I wanted to be there.
“If you don’t get your ass off that damn couch!” I yelled. Samson jumped off the couch and lay under my desk, disappointed, as if this wasn’t a daily occurrence.
Article velvet couches aren’t for dogs.
I rushed to my bedroom to change my shirt to something more subtle. Going into a meeting while being one of the few African Americans at the company wouldn’t be on brand if I got on Zoom with a Million man march T-shirt.
I stopped momentarily as the sun’s golden overtones flooded my bedroom and warmed my face.
I whispered, “Man, I love working from home.”
I snapped out of my gaze to Samson, whining for a treat. I quickly moved through my apartment to the kitchen as if I was running routes in the NFL. Even though I knew no one would notice, I still had anxiety if I didn’t show up on time.
These meetings always feel more like indoctrination than motivation or a newsworthy part of my day.
As I entered the Zoom meeting room, I sat there with the dumbest code-switching grin.
Through my teeth, I mumbled, “They talk about everything but some money.”
I sat there in a daze for the next 20 minutes, listening to the importance of core values and the constant ego stroke of the sales department.
Our company’s fearless leader went on and on about mindset and motivation. The more I stared at my screen, the more I didn’t see a person anymore. I started to see something that scared me.
I could only picture a man with an unquenchable thirst for power and money. This man looked much more diabolical than usual, almost reminiscent of the bad guy from Die Hard to take over the world through the Saas industry. I was utterly turned off and even more disgusted with the details of his rise from humble beginnings.
I couldn’t understand rich people’s obsession with trying to pretend as if they could relate to the common man. It was highly odd.
This lecture about us as a company need to think more intently and slowly turn to a sound similar to the adults in the charlie brown cartoons.
I couldn’t understand these motivational speeches. The pains I endured to get here were enough to inspire anyone to keep working at this point in my life.
Some men lack the experience of a hero’s journey and need external motivation to propel themselves forward.
I stared at the ceiling, thinking about life and trying to convince myself to keep a positive mindset. I began to reminisce about old times when life was much more challenging.
“Another day, another dollar,” I exhaled. I sat back in my cable van, hoping no one holding saw me. I parked in the hood next to the unkempt ancient African American graveyard. I knew the GPS tracking system wouldn’t pick any customers who needed service near me. Of course, I pulled out my Macbook and got to the real business.
My passion was unwavering. I had yet to learn what silicon valley was and whoever the hell Steve jobs was. I just loved graphic design and brought my Macbook everywhere, of course, before money got involved.
The blazing summer heat wave had me blasting my air conditioning—one of the luxuries of being a company man.
I stared out the window, watching the wise men converse in an abandoned lot.
They sat there talking and laughing as if they didn’t have a care in the world. In this part of my life, I never experienced being intoxicated. However, the joyful glassy look in their eyes made me slightly envious.
A little white Pontiac car pulled up to this empty lot. Inside was an older white man and his son. It was Albert, a quite nefarious individual. He was a pharmacist from a city called Bridge City. Due to the Media, most people have a warped perspective of drug dealing. Many opioids were being pushed by, let’s say, unconventional dealers at the time.
Most people would drive by and think these men were your ordinary crackheads. Still, most of these men were veterans who fell victim to a system that never appreciated their contributions to our nation.
Buying these pills from Albert was to ease the pain of a life unfulfilled, the sorrow and regret.
I sat there sipping on my Big Peach, watching how the hustle went.
I heard a knock on the passenger side window. I looked over in a panic, hoping it wasn’t my supervisor Jay finding me in hiding. To my surprise, it was the homie, Boss Gaddafi.
“Brudda Fonz, what’s crackin groove?” he exclaimed.
As I opened the door from the inside, “shidd coolin’! Hop in, my nigga.”
“Mannnn, what the hell you doing out here?” I asked.
“You already know comin’ from tha lil trap off Pine,” Boss replied. “The real question is, why you back here hidin’?”
I exhaled, “Fam, I can’t keep doing this work shit. I gotta be about my passion. I’m trying to take this design shit to the next level.”
“These motherfuckers got me crawling in these white folks’ attics like a mark. Not with the bullshit,” I ranted.
Boss was the lil homie, but he was wise among his years. He was among the first to believe in me as a designer, and I could see in his eyes that he enjoyed the shit-talking.
Boss was somewhat of a vagabond. It was rumored that he lost his parents to a double – suicide at ten and bounced around to different relatives homes. He stayed with a smile and a positive message despite his current condition.
A certain level of anxiety always chased me. How could I get my gang out of the hood thru graphic design? Is it possible that anyone has accomplished this?
“Say groove,” Boss said, cutting my rant short. You see all that money out there.
“Look, groove as he pointed to the graveyard. At least a 1 trillion dollars out there.”
I thought this was about to be a reparations pitch.
“Look, man, them folks ain’t going for that reparations shit.”
“Nah, man, think about it!” he retorted— ”all those souls out there, all the ideas, concepts, thoughts, creativity.”
That realization hit me like a ton of bricks. In this graveyard were so many people who looked just like me and had so many dreams that may have never been fulfilled for one reason or another.
I have been blessed with the gift of design, and as I complained about my current situation, the solution was right in front of me.
“damn you right, cuh,” I sighed.
“Aye, gotta help folks take they hustle to the next level.” Boss replied as he got out and walked to Albert’s car window.
I hear a beep on my PowerBook. I had an install over in the maida.
I put my Macbook in my backpack as I started to drive off.
I rolled down my window, put my thumb between my index and middle finger, and stuck out an upside-down peace sign as I drove off.
Aight, cuh,” I yelled.
Boss looked up and yelled, “Aye, boy! Keep yo mind on the money!”
“Have a good day, everyone!” blared from my laptop. It shooked me out of my daydream. I quickly pressed leave on Zoom. I let out a big sigh of relief. I jumped out of my chair and walked back to the window. As I looked out, all I could do was smile.
“gotta take this shit to the next level,” I ecstatically mumbled.