What you’re about to read may or may not be true. It’s a story about a white woman I used to work with.. or that I didn’t work with. You read and decide for yourself. Either way, it’s a wild story!
The day I did my final interview with Miranda, I was excited. It was between her and another great candidate but Miranda had more direct experience and was able to start when I needed her. I called her references, I did a slight background check and nothing was alarming. So I offered her the job and she accepted.
She was an older white woman. A mother of 4 or 5, fairly attractive and though ten years older than my oldest employee before her, she seemed to fit in great. She was fun, generous, and a team player. Also, Miranda didn’t seem intimidated by working with a primarily black team. Her children were black and so was her current boyfriend. She liked the same music and shows as the rest of the team so everyone was getting along fine. She would occasionally say something that revealed her privilege and biases but she took the feedback in stride. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that Miranda had her… issues.
Rather than warning me before something happened, Miranda was always reactive. She’d tell me she was running late after arriving and question if she made a bad choice after making it. Because of the type of work we did and how small our team was, none of these were behaviors went without huge consequences for others. So I called a meeting with her. My approach is always to discuss why something is happening and what adjustments we can make. Well, Miranda wasn’t a fan of that. She would turn into a whining teenager and spend the rest of the day mumbling under her breath.
This would become repetitive. Miranda would blatantly ignore policy or make devastating mistakes and when I addressed them, she’d make excuses and blame other people. Then she’d spend a week mad at me until she got over it. It didn’t bother me but she started to make enemies of her teammates. My normally happy and healthy team were now grumpy and irritated by Miranda’s poor attitude and work habits.
Then, she did something stupid. Miranda left work one day, went to a bar and got ugly drunk. She begin to tell the bartenders all about how much she hated me. I was always picking on her, she said. I was jealous, she claimed. She said she’d rather work on a street corner than with me (it’s a big money gig so I ain’t mad). Of course an employee is allowed to vent. But… that bartender was a good friend of mine. So by morning, I had the tea.
I didn’t approach Miranda with the information I had. Why would I? It was on her personal time and again, her feelings just didn’t bother me. So I keep that info in my back pocket.
A few weeks later, the entire team was going out for a Christmas party. While at work, Miranda asked if she could make some adjustments to her shift get her hair done for the party. I agreed but reminded her that if she failed to hold up her end of the adjustments, she’d be risking her holiday pay. Of course, Miranda came back over an hour late after getting her Karen cut and then asked to leave work early so she could rest before the party. It didn’t matter to me so I let her go. I had already warned her about missing so much time before a holiday and she was adult enough to make the choice. That night, Miranda showed up to the party and got drunk again. This time however, she was my biggest fan. She was in the club screaming that I was her “Main Bitch” and introducing me to random people. I hadn’t bought her drinks or even a Christmas gift but she wouldn’t leave me alone. It was irritating me so I left the party early. I knew my limits and this chic was testing them.
New Year’s Eve. We were all working. It was a volunteer shift and everyone had volunteered. We brought in snacks, music, and enjoyed the fruits of our holiday pay. Miranda came in late and with an attitude. Before she even sat down, she asked to pull me aside for a chat. She was upset about her paycheck. I reminded her that she’d come in late, left early, took extra long breaks, and overall had shortened herself by so many hours, that even the OT she signed up for was still less than the full eighty hour check. She said she couldn’t afford to buy her kids Christmas gifts and because she didn’t have custody of them and wasn’t paying child support, the least she could do was buy them the one thing they wanted. And according to her, this was all my fault. She even complained that I collected money for toys for tots but didn’t consider getting her kids anything. Her kids were grown btw. I mean, she had just gotten her hair down the week before and bought pizza for the whole office and got drunk at the non-open-bar holiday party. I didn’t feel the least bit bad about her bad choices. But I stand by my open door policy so I let her vent and offered her a budget plan.
Well, when she got back to her desk, she bubbled up and went off! Screamed, cursed, picked up her stuff and said she was leaving! I jumped for joy! Bye “Main Bitch”!
But it wasn’t over yet. Instead of quitting, she decided she was leaving for the day and wanted to call a meeting with my manager instead. Bold move! So on Monday, I sent the email and made sure all the managers, including the CEO were invited to the private meeting Miranda wanted to have. I was sure to prepare all of her coachings, write-ups, and time sheets for references. But I wouldn’t be in the meeting so she could speak freely. “Say whatever you want to them,” I told her. I had nothing to hide.
I must admit, I was annoyed though. Here this white woman was, old enough to be my momma, making a fuss because she had made bad choices and expected me to accommodate for them. Now, she had the unmitigated gall to demand a meeting with my boss to complain about how I was treating her unfairly. When HR approached me, I gave them everything I had. They knew about the incident because she had approached them, my boss, and others. They assured me that they would be objective but overall, the company knew me. They knew I was fair, responsible, and kind to a fault. They also had spoken to other members of them team. Remember how she had pissed them off too.
The morning of the meeting, she walked in. Put her things down and pulled me aside again. She said “I’ll tell them I don’t want to have a meeting. I’m sorry and I’ll sign whatever you need me too.” And that’s exactly what she did. She signed a write-up admitting to her behaviors and was in and out of the meeting just like enough to say “Never Mind.” I’m pretty sure another employee warned her that she was more likely to get fired than to take my job which she had planned to advocate for.
All was peaceful for another week or two. She came on time, she minded her business, and she kept her head low. I honestly thought I was seeing a new and mature Miranda. Until I asked her a question. Yup, I had done one or one training with each employee where I asked them to complete a task and solve a scenario because I was looking to promote someone to assistant manager. When I emailed her the same info I emailed everyone else, she responded “I quit.” I looked up and said “You sure this time?”
As I walked her out and took her badge, her crying and claiming I was picking on her, I made it clear that there would be no returning for her. No meetings, no emails, just get out. Then I stated “Now that you’re no longer my employee, I have some things to say.”
I reminded her that this wasn’t the first time a white employee had challenged my position. That with all my expertise, over ten years of experience, and proven track record… there will always be young college kids who believe they should have my job or older folks who don’t want to answer to me. However, it’s only been the white people who’ve actually tried to steal my job. Not work hard and prove themselves but write letters, have secret meetings, and wiggle their way into being gifted what I’ve earned. That when I do well, I’ve been accused of favoritism or affirmative action rather than praised for my intelligence or skill. This wasn’t the first time and probably won’t be the last. I reminded her that though she tried to slander my name, my reputation precedes itself and she couldn’t convince people otherwise… even bartenders. “But you’re a white woman,” I told her, “You’ll be fine.” I also reminded her that she owed me $15 cause she didn’t have lunch money last week.
She cried. Said it wasn’t fair. That she wanted her job but maybe just needed a vacation. I said “Well, you got all the time you need now.”
And last I heard, Miranda was fine. A friend put her up at a job, no questions asked. Her mom bought her a new car and her boyfriend was paying her bills. An update on her background check revealed that her child support had gotten behind and she had a few warrants for bad checks but overall, she had enough privilege to pay for her sins.
The day after Miranda quit, I announced to my team the pay increase I had promised them. I had learned about it about ten mins before Miranda had walked out.
We can’t avoid Karen’s. Mostly because you can never tell who has an inner Karen just by looking at them. But you can make sure you’re always one step ahead! Or in Miranda’s case, ten minutes.