Thursday, November 19, 2015

ME vs. me

ME vs. Me

Internal and external battles are a real thing! I’m constantly battling me all the time. There’s so many things taking place within me, I rarely have time or energy to battle someone else.  Here’s a glimpse of one of my many battles…

Polite Me vs. Pop Off Me:

Every now and then I have an encounter where I have to make a decision to either display my polite self or the “pop off” version of me. In many cases people are able to enjoy my pleasant side. Usually I’m upbeat. I’m kind, I’ll flash my Colgate smile, embrace you with a hug or even crack a funny joke. That’s pretty much me ninety-five percent of the time. Then there are times when I am placed in scenarios where certain situations call for me to make a vital decision: To pop off or not to pop off? That is the question. Just recently I was put in such a predicament. Here’s the story:

I go to the doctor for my annual check-up. Seems pretty routine right? But for some strange reason at my new doctor, in my new town, my educational background is on my patient chart. This should have been my first red flag when I first started going to this physician, but then I figured they must use this information for statistical data, however after this visit I think they use it to be pricks! With that being said you can imagine this visit didn’t go so well. In walks my doctor with her laptop, she pulls up my chart and after “hello” she says: “I see you have a Master’s degree.” (Strike 1) My reply: “Yes, indeed.” However, in my head I’m thinking what does my degree have to do with the price of tea in china? What does my degree have to do with this visit and why in the hell does it matter?

What happened next could have led to a path of probation or even jail, had I allowed the “pop off” to me win. She proceeds to go through the steps of my physical and puts the stethoscope on my back and asks me to take a deep breath. I do as instructed and I inhale while simultaneously moving my hair out of the way. (I’m currently rocking a very cute natural styled weave that falls close to my bra strap) The doc then says: “Is this your hair?” (Strike 2) I reply: “No.” Her response: “Good, I was about to say that’s not fair because my hair is so thin.” (Strike 3) Let me not begin on what's not fair lady!!!

WTF???? I literally had to do a Zach Morris Time Out moment and have a come to Jesus meeting with myself. I was truly appalled at this educated professional’s lack of cultural sensitivity, considering she was a woman of color, although she wasn’t a Black. But based on the comments throughout my physical, I could tell she identified with certain stereotypical ideologies.
I could have popped off, which I really wanted to, or I could have educated her on her ignorance, since my actual hair is as thick and strong in texture as the extensions in my scalp. But then I thought: every moment of my life shouldn’t have to be a teachable moment, and I just went on and let polite me live.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Be Kind... You Never Know Who You're Sitting Next To...

BE KIND: You never know who you’re sitting next to…

I work in education and I always tell my students to always be kind to their peers. I encourage them to interact with everyone, not just their clique. I learned this valuable lesson from my beloved mother, Beverly Sims, who always told me and my sister to treat everybody right, because you could be entertaining an angel. This jewel of advice came from a Bible scripture, Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

From the day I started school I was a social butterfly. I would talk to anyone with a pulse, and this behavior still holds true as an adult. My best friend says I will even talk to a wall. Sounds a tad bit nuts, but it’s true. I say all this to say, one should always be polite and kind to others because you never know who you’re sitting next to.

Back in 1997, as a 7th grader at Whittier Middle School in Flint, Michigan, I had no control over the seating arrangement in Mr. Earl Crowder’s math class.
Whittier Middle School, Crapo St. Flint, MI 
I was a very studious student with an affinity for good grades, good laughs and singing. Little did I know I’d be seated next to the school’s resident rebel, Mr. JaQuavis Coleman. “Quavis” as we called him was your typical middle school heartthrob: handsome, athletic, funny and bad as hell! Due to his sense of humor and my love for talking, we became fast friends. JaQuavis would have me cracking up every day from blazing on people to him telling me who his next girlfriend was going to be. If you know me, you know I laugh obnoxiously loud and so I got in trouble every damn day. JaQuavis knew I could sing, so he would request for me to sing to him after I finished my work. This too led to me getting into trouble. My punishment would be a writing assignment from Mr. Crowder, dirty looks from Mr. Crowder and threats of calling my mother from Mr. Crowder. My poor hand would be hurting and my nerves would be shot! Quavis’ punishment was much harsher than mine, he would get his classes closed or kicked out of class. However, none of this would stop us from doing it all over again. Soon our middle school lives would be up and we would enter high school; we remained friends throughout.  Even though Quavis had a “reputation” that I won’t get into, I never once judged him. He was just my friend who always made me laugh and looked out for me if I was low on lunch money. Senior year Quavis and I were both voted “Biggest Flirt”. I think that happened because we were both kind to people, even to the not so cool kids, no matter what. People can often take politeness the wrong way. 

But, I digress. During our Senior year, JaQuavis and I would share one last class together. That class would be DRAMA class. Although we would hang out at lunch, at parties, or when I could convince him to come to church with me, we hadn’t shared a class together since middle school due to me being in the “gifted” program. So we were both geeked to be reunited in class again. And guess what? We sat next to each other. We were back at it again like we had never been separated, cracking jokes, laughing and him telling me about his girlfriend at the time, who would later on become his wife (Hey Ashley). Our teacher at the time, couldn’t understand how a student like me could be friends with a student like JaQuavis. Adults can be so petty sometime. Anyway upon graduating high school administrators, teachers, and others pretty much had high expectations for me. But what would become of Mr. Coleman, who had the world on his shoulders and the odds stacked against him? 

How about Mr. JaQuavis Coleman became a New York Times Bestselling author, producer, screenplay writer and director on they ass!!!!! I am glad to call JaQuavis my friend. I am glad Mr. Crowder allowed us to sit next to each other.I’m glad my Mother taught me not to judge people and to be kind to all those I encounter, because you never know who you could be entertaining unawares. I happened to be entertaining a future mogul.

Author/Director JaQuavis Coleman and I at his movie premiere "White House" is Dallas, TX

JaQuavis isn’t my only successful friend, I could name about 100 more or so, but if you’re reading this I want you to understand the lessons in this story:

1.       The Power of Networking- If at any time I call one of my successful friends for a reference, a word of encouragement or to help my students, they’re always down for the cause
2.       Friendship- Friendships can start at any point in life. True friendship can always pick up where it left off; build friendships with people from all walks of life  
3.       Thou shalt not judge- Friendship may not always fit the bill of a Huxtable kid, Accept people for who they are, not how the world views them (including teachers and adults)
4.       Laughter- Always find a way to laugh
5.       Keep in touch- As we get older our lives become busy, but always find a way to at least say HEY!
6.       SUPPORT- Always support your friends in their endeavors!

Who knew that the kid I sat next to, who got me in trouble would grow up take over the world?

A few of my Successful Friends/Family:
1.       Jon Connor- Rapper/Songwriter/Producer on Aftermath @jonconnormusic (Instagram)
2.       Tonika Arline- University of Michigan-Flint  Rockstar of Admissions
3.       Kendra Cochran- Makeup Artist @kcofaces (Instagram)
4.       Tiffany Cole-Allen- Technical Designer/CEO of Non-Profit Org: Fashion Focus Initiative
5.       Chuniq Inpower- NFL Players Association Digital Content Manager/CEO Just Regular Girls
6.       Karhema Simon- A woman in S.T.E.M. that rocks!
7.       Quintisha “Molly” Burns- Fitness motivator/Awesome Mom @napturalmolly (Instagram)
8.       Laneishia Lamb- Fashion Designer/CEO Pretty Geeky Bowtique @prettygeekybowtique (Instagram)
9.       Trevon Davis-  Singer/Actor/Broadway Star @instagramtrevon (Instagram)
1.   Pamela Balentine- Financial Guru/ Owner/CEO Viking Financial Services
1.   Keysa Smith- Owner/Chef Spectacular Spudz @spectacularspudz (Instagram)
1.   Brianna Grier- Owner D-Town Coney Island Dallas, Texas @dtownconeyisland (Instagram)
1.   Kala Wilburn- Fashion Designer/Founder Vehicle City Fashion Week @kalasantrese (Instagram)

There’s more, but I’ll stop here for now…

Til Next Time… Be Kind 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Retail... Everyone has a story... Here's mine

Retail… Everyone has a story… Here’s mine:

I never had the pleasure of flipping burgers although I desperately wanted to. Flipping burgers meant I could have fun like Bon Qui Qui from Mad TV who worked at King Burger or I could work with “Calvin” from McDonalds. I mean who didn’t want to work with “Calvin” from the McDonald’s commercials and possibly date him? Working at McDonalds was a teenager’s dream during my teenage years. I wanted to work at the Mickey D’s franchise on Clio Road, in Flint, MI, where I’m from. That location used to jump, especially on Friday nights, and I wanted in on a piece of the action. I filled out applications and even went to the on sight interviews, but nope the burger gods just wasn’t feeling me. But, guess who was feeling me? Yep, you guessed it: The Retail Gods!

My First Retail Job
My first retail job was at David’s Bridal, a reasonably priced bridal shop for women looking to get hitched.

 I was 16 years old when I got the gig. My cousin Erica was hired first and then she told me to apply and just like that my cousin and I were slangin’ wedding gowns. We were getting paid above minimum wage and working in a girl’s dream shop, so we thought. The dream soon turned into a nightmare like episode of the Twilight Zone. How did it turn into a nightmare you ask? For starters, our manager was going through a terrible divorce and the broad was bitter as hell. Imagine you’re going through a divorce and you have to work in a place where you see happy, optimistic brides every day. Talk about torture. Since she was on an island of miserable, of course she needed company, so she took her frustrations out on us and the rest of the employees. It was a tense environment. Some days were great. Like when a bride found her dream gown and her bridesmaids dresses all in the same day. The joy and gleam in her eyes is priceless. But then there were the days when a Bridezilla would enter the store and all hell would break loose. When the ‘zilla would enter, the aura of the store would change. This is the “bride-to-be” that would have us getting every dress in the store for her to try on, only for her to be disappointed at every turn. We would be yelled at, cursed at and treated cruelly. This job was so savage that Erica and I were let go on our day off. You would think that my experience at David’s Bridal would have been my first and last tango with retail, but it was only the beginning.

The Red Bullseye

The next time I would find myself at a retail chain, I would be 24 years old. I was in graduate school, looking to earn a few extra bucks and since the red bullseye was in close proximity to my apartment, it seemed like a good fit. Emphasis on “seemed”. Now, I’m never one to brag about my credentials, but if someone asks me questions, I tend to answer honestly. With that being said, when I first started, my co-workers would ask me if I was a student at the local university nearby and I would reply I was a graduate student there. Wrong answer. For the people who were trying to make the red bullseye their life career, I was a threat to their entire world. For some strange and irrational reason, they thought I wanted a high ranking position at the company. Nope wasn’t in my book of goals at all. I had tasks like finger spacing the hanging clothes, which meant the hangers had to be a finger space apart. Ummmm, really? Like why? No need to worry honey, you can have that. Then there were the rude ass people. One day I was folding clothes in the girls’ section of the store. My tables were all nice and neat and I was ready to move on to my next department, when a customer from the bowels of hell decided to purposely destroy my neatly folded tables. She then proceeds to walk by me and say: “I’m giving you job security.” I looked at the heaux like Bih! I will slap the taste out yo’ mouth. But, the way my life was set up at the time, I had to humble myself and re-fold those clothes.

The Pretty Panties Store

In the middle of my pregnancy with my first and only child, I decided to work at the pretty panty store known as Victoria’s Secret. It was no secret that my pregnant behind couldn’t fit nothing in that store, but the body mist. The great thing about working at Vicky’s secret is that I got to wear black every day and if you’ve ever been pregnant you know “black” is your very best friend. Working here was cool, I got a nice little discount and the consumers of this store were actually friendly. Go figure. The only downfall to my experience at this retail store, was my pregnancy hormones. I was constantly sick and having to barf. I would be in the middle of conversation with someone and start crying. Another downside to working here was standing on my feet for 8 hours. For a normal person that is perfectly fine, but if you’re preggo this is a death sentence. Needless to say my time there was extremely short.

The Orange Life
Most recently I needed to break up the monotony of my everyday life so I decided to don the orange apron. I’m in a new city so I figured the best way to get an idea about the locals is to work at a retail giant. In my salaried position, I see and work with the same people every day and that can become uninteresting. Working here and in retail in general allows one to meet all kinds of people from all walks of life. I am able to interact with the stay-at-home mom looking to redo her baby’s room, the college student trying to build a trampoline from scratch, the artist working on a mural, the business owner buying supplies, the landscaper getting extra items for the job, the dad helping a son with a science project and the list goes on. I don’t have to worry about meeting deadlines. I do however, learn a lot about people’s citizenship status when I ask them to apply for credit cards. But most importantly I get to work with really cool people.

 But don’t be fooled, there’s always that one crazy customer that makes you be like, you know what screw this job! The customer that made me feel this way was an irate customer that came in the form of a man. If you haven’t been shopping in a while or you’re stuck in the 20th Century, you may or may not know that companies and banks are switching over to “Chip Cards”. Chip cards are allegedly safer for the consumer against fraud and theft. Using the chip card, however takes longer than the old way of just swiping your card and going about your business. So, said customer comes through my line and the chip card process is taking longer than he’s mentally capable of handling. He starts yelling at me and telling me how horrible this new system is. He goes on to tell me that I need to tell the manager that this system sucks and from now on he will be shopping at Lowes! All I could do was *Blank Stare* Ahhhh… the joys of retail.

That’s my story, what’s yours?  

Tynee Talks: The C.R.O.W.N. Act with Leticia Wilson, M.Ed.

Tynee Talks to Leticia Wilson, M.Ed. about the C.R.O.W.N. Act, which means Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair. Together w...