Empowerment

Empowerment- to give power, authority; increasing the capacity to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions

I left the house late. I decided to make a full breakfast for the kids before leaving at 5:30 am to head to the gym. I was running about 15 minutes behind but decided a 30 minute cardio workout would start my day off right. I pulled up to the gym and realized I did not have have my work clothes. I left them sitting on my bed. At this point it was 6:00 am. I had to make a quick decision to go home and change clothes and be late for work or go to the one store that I have sworn off because of their lack of customer service. I chose the latter. Traffic and construction make drive times unpredictable and I needed to meet a vendor between 7:30 and 8:00 am. I could not risk being late.

I headed over to that store. The one that I set a goal to not walk into this year. I have had so many bad experiences at Wal-Mart that I swore them off for good or so I had hoped. But sometimes life happens and you have to make decisions that you don’t prefer. I could go into the many reasons why I am determined to end my relationship with them but do you really want to hear about the Valentine’s day when I went into the store and requested to get some balloons blown up only for them to tell me the one person who knew how to use the helium tank would not arrive to work until after 9am? On Valentine’s day? I know you don’t want to hear about the time I was talking to a customer service rep on the phone. I was trying to clarify whether or not they would ship a gift to my nephew who was living in Guam at the time. I asked if they used USPS and she said no, we use the Unites States Post Office. I could also mention the rude employees but I won’t go into that right now.

I picked out two shirts and two pair of pants to try on. I walked over to the dressing room because I have to try on clothes. Everything does not fit me the same. When I arrived to the dressing room I see benches blocking the entry so I tell and employee I need a dressing room. She proceeds to tell me the dressing rooms are closed and do not open until 7 am. Well, that creates a real dilemma. I have to be at work by 7 am. I explain my predicament to this employee who reiterates, the rooms are closed until 7 am but I am more than welcome to wait (40 minutes). Now I am put out. This is why I promised myself that I would never come back to this store. The employees are not empowered to make good decisions that will allow them to make sound customer oriented choices. I request a manager. Seven minutes later, the store manager has not shown up so I ask if I can go to her. A young guy wearing a badge that says Customer Service Manager is walking past. I stepped in front of him, explained my situation and behold, he decided to help me by unlocking a door.

You see, every business has policies however, the policy should not hinder the employee from being empowered. Employees who are empowered to make some decisions are more content employees. They also provide better customer service. I am not sure why a 24/7 store closes their dressing rooms and drills into their employees heads the rooms are not available under any circumstance to a customer no matter how dire the need. It’s bad business. It’s questionable management and it leaves employees discontent in the long run when the policies take over and leave the employees fearful of consequences rather than customer focused.

Give me a break Wal-Mart. In the 30 minutes I was in your store I experience one very rude employee and three others who need to become empowered. The rude lady kept mumbling to no one in particular the dressing rooms don’t open until 7. I spoke to her directly at one point and said sometimes we make exceptions to provide a great customer service experience. The other three asked how they could help but at the point I was waiting on the no show manager.

After today, I am more determined than ever to not give them my money.

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5:37 PM

There it is, the garage door is opening. I glance at the beautiful clock on the mantle. It was a wedding gift from one of my friends. I am not sure why I bothered to look. It’s always the same time everyday, 5:37. I sit there wondering. How does he manage to get home at the exact same time. I wonder if he ever gets home early and just sits around the corner waiting until it’s time to open the garage door. He never runs late, never. It’s always the same time.
When we were first married we would commute together, well to the bus station at least. He would drop me off in the mornings then pick me up in the evening. It was a great time to get to know each other better. We would talk about a variety of things, there was no limit to the conversation. When he picked me up from the bus station in the evenings, he would hop out of the car, greeting me with a kiss then and open my car door . He asked about my day and listen to me as I filled him in on the ins and outs of my daily adventures.
When the first baby came, we agreed I would stay home. That was the same year we moved into our first house. I was always excited when he arrived home. The sound of the garage door opening meant so much to me back then. It meant adult conversation, somebody else to hold and change the baby and time with my honey. It was great. We were a happy family of three until the other baby came along. Then we were a happy family of four. 

The kids and I would run to the back door when we heard the garage door open. I would lead the way yelling, “daddy’s home!!!” and they would follow saying the same thing in their cute little toddler voices while clapping and smiling. He would walk in the door with a big smile. After kissing me he would pick them up and kiss them. Daddy was home. 

Then one day or maybe over the course of a few months, something changed. I no longer led the charge. I did not feel like being the head cheerleader. I stopped running to the door. Without me leading them and encouraging them the children stopped too. 

I looked at the clock, 5:39 pm? He’s late? He’s never late. I wonder if something happened to him. 

Why I am still black

The term Afican American has been around for quite a while. I have never used it consistently to describe myself and definitely not my children. I have some friends who are staunch users of the term to describe themselves. I find it amusing to have conversations with people who say African American while I say black. I am sure they are wondering why I am not progressive and will not use the term they prefer. But I refuse. I’m sure they have wondered why I’m not conforming and why I will not follow along with their part of of the herd. 

One of the things I tell my children is do not use words or phrases if  you don’t know the definition. For me, I didn’t know the origin or the reasoning behind the change from black to African American. I prefer not to identify as either, it’s obvious when you see me why do I need a label? If you are going to label me as anything how about child of God? 

I have questions. When the term is used, which America is being referenced? Is South America included? What about Canada? Is the term solely for certain people living in the United States and if so, why?

A year ago I decided to do a little research on the Internet to determine the origins of the phrase. There are a few different versions of how the term came to be. One is attributed to a poem (I Can) written by Johnny Duncan. Jessie Jackson says he is responsible for the migration to African American. Did you know that there is or was a dividing line drawn to determine who the term references? There is the school of thought that the only people who should use the term are people whose ancestors were slaves. Hhhmmmm… Leaders in the black community wanted to differentiate between descendants of African slaves and everybody else. The term black encompasses everybody, whether you want the label or not. Granted, black is based upon your skin tone or somebody’s perception. Did you know that President Obama is not the first African American president, according to popular definitions? Just take a moment and let that soak in. His father is from Kenya and his mother, while American, is not a descendent of slaves. How nonsensical. How divisive. To my friends who were frustrated with me for not conforming, how you like me now?!? 

I refuse to accept a label that, according to some, does the very thing I don’t personally embrace. I don’t like creating division or putting people in boxes

Don’t we know by now that if there is a movement of some sort then it is going to financially / politically benefit someone? Why was there a shift? What was the long term plan? There is always an agenda. 

At the beginning and end of the day I would rather be referred to as my given name but if I must self identify I choose black.