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But you can call me Watermelondrea! - Just Being Funny

Roberto lingered at my desk like a bee desperate for honey. I was the cute receptionist. He was the newly hired IT guy. It was his first day. He was a total Chatty Chad. Was this flirting? Was it first day jitters? I can never tell. Whatever it was, I needed it to end because I had important scumbag temp employee things to do. 

On the list: admire my hair and cute outfit in the bathroom’s full-body mirror. Drink two unnecessary cups of FREE hot chocolate. (Disregard that it’s “too warm” because we were deep into spring. Never pass up on free chocolate!). Most importantly, complete one of hopefully four rounds of squats before the morning mail delivery. Squatting better be life if your policy is never to pass on free chocolate.

A pleasant smile. Ample head nodding. Agreeing murmurs when applicable. My life goals weren’t pressing. Reminder: she who has friends must show herself to be friendly. Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Eh, dude was recently unemployed. Why should I – a lowly temp – snub him just because I was jonesing for chocolate?

Finally, the longest moment of small talk seemed to be rounding off. Of course, I couldn’t be sure because he’d faked me out twice before. “Anyways, I won't keep you” actually means I'll keep flapping my lips for five more minutes. Being “kept” wasn’t totally unbearable. It’s nice to be seen and asked non-rhetorical questions. “How are you?” rarely requires an authentic reply. 

“What’s your name again?”

Pointing to my name tag, I replied, “Onicia.”

“Cool. What do your friends call you?”

Be assertive. “Onicia.”

"So you don't have a nickname? What about Ni-ni?"

What in the corporate frick frack? This was a common #BlackWomenAtWork moment. Roberto blindsided me because. I thought he, a black man, would know better. Where was the understanding and solidarity? It was only his first day on the job and it’s like he completely forgot the stress us with ethnic names feel when deciding to be ourselves or in corporate environments. 

Most triggering was his audacity to conjure a hideous alternative to Onicia. Ni-ni? Gah! Did I have a big nose and over-bleached teeth and hair? Swerve.

“Like Nene Leaks? No. Onicia is easy it sounds like Alicia.” I punctuated my assertion with a curt smile and leveled chin. Hint: please miss me with that.

Insensitivity reigned. Roberto doubled down. “You don’t like Ni-ni? Ah, we'll figure it out.”
As he turned away, I thought, the Flintstones we won’t. Rob-rob, (can I call you that?) my name is Onicia and that's how you'll address me! Not no O, no Oni, and fo’sho not no Ni-ni. I rebuke you equus caballus demons. 

Dead astronaut. He tried to change my name. Shout out to all the Black Women at work who go by their birth names. May the spirit of Watermelondrea Jones be with us as we navigate the seas of corporate cubicles.


What would you do? Tweet me using #JBFxOnicia


Created on St. Maarten. Based in Chicago. Onicia Muller (@OniciaMuller) writes, says funny things, and enjoys hanging with creative minds. Originally published in The Daily Herald's Weekender, Just Being Funny is a weekly reflection where Onicia laughs at life


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