The line may sound familiar if you know about Queen Latifah’s hit song “UNITY”. The “B” word is thrown around all too often in many scenarios. Personally, it’s what I was referred to on a regular from my mother during my childhood. Later it became a common weapon of insult by males (notice I didn’t say men) who’s ego’s were shattered after politely declining their advances. Eventually; though I never understood this, it became a popular casual greeting amongst female friends. “Hey bitch, how ya doin'”, “ooh bitch come go to this party wit me”. Turns out, I didn’t have many “friends” because when I demanded to be addressed by my name, suddenly I was no longer “cool”. Mainly due to the hurt of my mother’s use of the word towards me, I grew to despise it which usually led to a beat down after I grew older against anyone who referred to me as a bitch. At least that was the case until walking in to the job one day, all eyes were on me as my boss stood at the front of the conference room as he greeted me with, “there she is everyone, give it up for the badest B.I.T.C.H. of the company!!”
In my head, I saw myself responding with my hands around his neck and asking “who you callin’ a bitch?” I wasn’t concerned with loosing my job because I didn’t like it at all. I’ve never been good at selling anything, not even girl scout cookies as a child, but while witnessing the smiles on the faces of my co-workers as they applauded me, my instincts warned me to stay calm. That’s when I noticed the cake, a congratulations banner displaying my actual name hanging over a huge table covered with gifts. The boss held a tiny box in his hand that was open as he approached me almost glowing and said “great job Tammy, you did it”, while presenting me with the box. I’m thinking, what the hell did I do? Inside was a beautiful diamond broach with the letters B-I-T-C-H. He proceeded by saying, “Tammy, we’d like to present you with this award for being a Beautiful Intelligent Talented Chic Hustler!” Now confused and still somewhat irritated, I managed a smile once he assured me the diamonds were authentic. Apparently I’d made top sales that quarter, setting a company record.
Unfortunately that broach was lost in a fire with other treasured items, mostly photos of me as a teen and when I first had my children. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve most of them due to copies I’d shared over the years with their father and my mom, but I’ll never forget the two main lessons I learned that day. One is to think before reacting so quickly. The other, is that perhaps I wasn’t too bad in sales after all. I remember feeling as though I was stuck in that job for reasons I can’t recall. However, I knew that at the time I had to make the best out of it to provide for my child which began with changing my overall attitude about the job. You all may recall a time when people were out everywhere selling large bottles of fragrances for $20 each. We traveled to surrounding cities like Clearlake, Ukiah and Vegas taking me away from my only child at the time. Soon after being presented with the broach, my confidence rose to new heights which eventually led to an opportunity to open my own consignment shop. I rented a small retail space with low over-head and ran an ad in our local PennySaver for $12/mo, a free paper magazine for an assortment of advertisements that went out of circulation years ago. My office also provided space for people to view and purchase my art work that had previously only been viewed by those closest to me. I learned that I can do anything as long as I have faith, the right attitude and determination once I put my mind to it!