Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Personal Side to Me - by Ginger Simpson

A question pops into my mind from time-to-time, like when friends on Facebook share their upset about someone who is doing something he/she should realize must be painful to others. Rather than sit back and accept what he/she finds so upsetting,  why doesn't he/she speak out and let the person know how he/she feels about the situation?  It's so much easier to expect others to react in ways in which we lack the courage, isn't it?

 Posts like the one I described always bring to mind a past experience of mine... one I wish I'd dealt with very differently because the outcome affects my life, even today. For cathartic reasons, I choose to share. Sometimes people deserve to know something about them is broken so they can fix it It you don't discuss it, then you have to accept the consequences.  Age has made me stronger, and I believe a little wiser.  Besides, I want readers to know that being an author doesn't make a person exempt from living life and learning from it.

I won't go into great detail , but let's just say that I was once wrongfully accused of being something I'm totally against--a racist. I never had an opportunity to confront my accuser because of legalities, so the question still burns in my mind--what did I ever do to you that warranted such a hurtful and harmful statement? I raised my children with a stern hand when it came to racists jokes and remarks. I've gone through my life treating people like I want to be treated, and I've always had a lot of friends. So to think that one person who I worked with for many years suddenly saw monetary gain over friendship, amazes me.

The suit didn't just affect my friendship with her, it changed how I viewed my other co-workers--the other two who were sued along with me. I wasn't as strong as they were. I couldn't turn the other cheek and work shoulder-to-shoulder with someone who had besmirched my good name, especially since I was the Diversity Officer for our unit.

 I even had the backing of a doctor who said working with the individual was affecting my health, but my employer was more intimidated by the lawsuit then they were concerned in finding an alternative workspace for me. The friends I thought should have stood beside me, didn't, and I walked away feeling and looking the fool and wondering why over twenty years of dedication and hard work didn't count for anything. For years, I'd planned other people's retirement parties, and the one I hoped for never came, at least from the office I'd given so much of myself to.

Although I changed to another job, the unhappiness continued to plague me. Constant questions about why I'd left my previous job after so long went unanswered because I was warned not to discuss the suit. Eventually, my health failed and I had to retire. Needless to say, my pension is not what I'd planned on, and on payday each month, I wish I had possessed a stronger backbone. Today I would have told my friends of my disappointment in their lack of support for me. It might not have changed anything, but I'd feel satisfied that they knew how I felt. I wouldn't have let one person steal my future from me, or fill the final days of my dying best friend and teammate with unwarranted stress. I feel like things were left unsettled between us . I still miss my co-worker and BFF. She was my best audience and laughed at even my crummiest attempts at humor. I hope she knows how much I loved her, and still do.

I'm happy to say this experience didn't dim my believe in human nature. I still detest people who judge others for the color of their skin...actually for anything, and I will speak up against unfairness. As I said, aging makes you stronger and frees your tongue. If you're lucky, age also gives you grandchildren.

 I'm constantly reminded of how things should be when I recall dropping my sweet grandson off at his kindergarten class. His best friend was black, and they hugged each other hello and goodbye every day. They didn't see colors...they saw friendship, and that's the way it should be. Everyone should look at the world through Kindergarten eyes.