After the holidays, Discount Store slowed down and all of the temporary workers disappeared. This wasn’t an unwelcome occurrence since I felt left out due to the language barrier and I had my fingers crossed that they would soon need another key holder. I never missed a day of work, never slacked off at my job and already knew my way around the cash register. I was the next in line seniority-wise and I was more than ready to get my hands on a key, a fifty cent per hour raise and an easier job.

One day the manager called me into his office/the break room/the inventory room/the annex to the bathroom. I was barely working since they cut down on hours after Christmas and I thought he was going to tell me that things would be tight until later in the month. Instead, he fired me.

“Oh Zoogie2, you know how it is. Too many workers left over and not enough work. You don’t speak Spanish and the majority of our customers don’t speak English. It makes it difficult when you have to ask someone to translate for you. I don’t think this is the right job for you, but if you’ll stay two more weeks I can give you a good recommendation for another job.”

“But my Spanish has improved!! Maybe I can’t speak fluently, but I understand and can communicate what I need to for this job. I know words like “blouse” or “pants”. That’s all I really need to know for this job.” He shook his head and tears welled up in my eyes involuntarily.

“I just can’t have a non-spanish speaker working here.” He said. There was only one other “white girl” working and I knew he was on her case about her lack of Spanish speaking skills. It was probably only a matter of time before she would get the heave-ho too. I realized it was over and I agreed to work the two weeks for the recommendation, the money and to buy time to find a new job. Clearly, I have no shame.

A few days later the other white girl was given a write up for some small thing – chatting too much or coming in a few minutes late. She exploded (in front of customers) at the Manager and finally declared, “if you want me gone, be a man and fire me. You’re a racist who doesn’t like anyone who doesn’t speak Spanish”. She got her purse from the back room and stormed out.

Two days later, on my last day of work, I was hanging out with the Assistant Manager and passing the time when she mentioned we were working together a few days later. I liked the Assistant Manager – she was smart when it came to people (unlike the Manager) but dumb when it came to technology. When I told her that was impossible, that Manager had fired me, she showed me the schedule with my name clearly written in. We called Manager together and he disagreed that he had ever fired me!

I hadn’t found any other job so I decided to roll with the punches and keep my job at Discount Store. Even Assistant Manager agreed that Manager had probably fired me but decided to keep me after the other girl left. One of the only reasons I stayed was because with White Girl gone, that keyholder position had opened up and I was next in line for a promotion…