“Girl, so there I was sitting at the table next to the dance floor and I look over at the door and low and behold it’s Shelia with the same shirt I was wearing!” Jacqueline said as she rolled her eyes and huffed and puffed. “I felt violated. Heck I’d even say embarrassed. You’d think buying from online catalogs would save you from something like that,” Jacqueline said to Patrice in a voice of disgust. They sat in the company cafeteria over breakfast before their work day started. It was a regular routine of theirs to have breakfast together. After working four years sitting next to each other in the Accounting office as clerks, the two of them found a unique bond. Shelia had just walked past them to enter the serving line. After she spoke to them both and they returned the greeting, Jacqueline quickly went in on her experience with “the shirt” at the company’s annual customer service dinner.
“Calm down. Don’t have a heart attack. Don’t even worry about it,” Patrice responded.
“Well, so you know, I burned it. I refuse to be seen in something another woman in this building has on. I must be original, ‘hun. Always,” Jacqueline replied. She snapped her fingers and threw her nose straight into the air like a jet heading north.
“You burned it, Jackie?!?!” Patrice asked in surprise.
“Yeah. Wouldn’t you? I mean the same exact shirt, Pat. Not just a plain old white tee or something of the like, but a designer shirt with gold and silver embroidered diamond studs on the shoulder. You get it?” Jacqueline threw her hands in the air as to question Patrice’s intelligence about fashion etiquette.
“Honestly, I don’t. I mean it’s just a shirt, Jackie. Unless there was some terminal illness soaking through the shirt, Jackie, I would’ve kept it,” Patrice replied. She started shaking her head and rubbing her forehead in confusion.
Looking Patrice’s attire up and down, Jacqueline replied, “Humph, figures.” Patrice was wearing black clog shoes with a long brown skirt and purple shirt. Just then, Gloria from Legal walked past them to enter the serving line. “What about Gloria?”
“Maybe I’m missing something. What about her?”
“It’s obvious she always wants attention. The way she’s always volunteering for something. If it’s not to facilitate a meeting, it’s to coordinate a program or event. Don’t you just hate when she does that? I mean, let someone else get the shine sometimes.”
“Do you ever volunteer for anything?”
Hesitant with her response, Jacqueline said, “They don’t ever ask me. If they asked I’d volunteer. I love helping out.” Patrice shook her head again. Patrice knew she could remember a few instances where management asked for volunteers to facilitate meetings and Jacqueline would rant and rave about how she was not going to get involved with anything; how she already had enough work to do.
“You ought to try asking if there’s something you can help out with. I’m sure management would appreciate it.”
“That’s just silly, Patrice. Who has time for that? Not me. If they want my help they need to ask. You may want to do that, not me,” Jacqueline began snickering at the idea Patrice threw out. They continued to eat their breakfast. Jacqueline took her time eating her sausage croissant. Patrice paced herself eating her eggs and bacon knowing they only had a few more minutes before their shift started.
“Hey Patrice. Hey Jacqueline,” Orlando said to them both as he walked past them to enter the serving line. “They got anything good this morning?” He was a jovial guy. Always upbeat and friendly.
“I think so,” Patrice answered and laughed.
“Take your chances, Orlando. I mean this sandwich is ok, but I could’ve cooked it better,” Jaqueline interjected.
He looked from side to side because he felt her response was a little peculiar. Everyone that ate breakfast in the cafeteria knew that Jacqueline frequently ate the sausage croissant. “Uh… ok, then. I’m going to make it up here and see if I can get lucky like Patrice. You two have a great day.” He walked away and headed to the front of the line.
“Now you haven’t complained all this time about your sandwich. Is it really bad?” Patrice quickly asked Jacqueline.
“It’s edible, but the meat could’ve been cooked a little longer. Doesn’t his friendliness irk you? I mean it’s cool to be nice and all, but dang, all the time? You don’t ever have a day when you just don’t want to say anything to anyone?”
“Jacqueline, we’ve been sitting here for about twenty minutes and I haven’t heard anything nice come out of your mouth. One person after the next, you're either just saying random negative stuff or going in on everyone that comes through the line. What’s up with that?”
Rolling her eyes, Jacqueline replied, “You’re overreacting or being sensitive. Which is it?”
“Neither. I’m finished eating. That’s what I am. Going to my desk and I plan to have a positive day, ma’am. Hopefully you can have a positive life,” Patrice responded. She stood up from the table, smiled and left out the cafeteria. Jacqueline just rolled her eyes again, crossed her arms, and continued to sit at the bottom of the barrel - alone.