Written By Sher Trott-Bailey
Juanita’s graduation had finally gone and pass. She hadn’t gotten the time to return to school to take her graduation photos. However, she really didn’t care about it that much. Juanita had started the job at the lending agency and was already into her second week. She was currently working with one other woman and two men. The boss, Mr. Carillion had another branch in the capital Belmopan so he shuffled between their town and the capital.
To say she had a smooth start would be a lie. There had been several warning signs that all wasn’t going to be alright at this job but she had muscled through. For starters, the first day she had arrived early at the office, which was still not open, a woman named Ms.Wilson had arrived to open up the office. Juanita had politely greeted her and introduced herself. The expression the woman had given her could boil an egg. It was a look of pure jealousy.
She had then been introduced to the two male workers, one was currently having to leave work to get dialysis-that was Mr. Kingsley. His condition caused him to have a rank, pee-pee odor. However, he was the one that Juanita liked best out of all of them. The other worker was Mr Rodolfo, a self-confessed playboy in his early forties. He was cool too but Juanita still kept her distance. It was clear from the interaction between Mr Carillion the business owner and Ms Wilson that they were in a relationship together. That would account for the woman’s arrogant behavior and obvious dislike of Juanita. This Ms.Wilson was in charge of showing her the ropes. Juanita would be in charge of collecting loan repayments from their borrowers and updating customers on their loan balances. This lending agency was still using a book and calculator to update and calculate the balances.
Juanita was sure that Ms. Wilson had quickly gleaned over how to do the loan calculations. However, Juanita was very quick so she had picked up the process. Plus she could always ask Mr.Kingsley for help whenever he was around. So Juanita had gotten through her first week with few errors except with one client that had cussed her out.
When Juanita had told her mother about her first week and about Ms.Wilson, she was met with a listening ear. However, her mother’s only advice was for Juanita was to
‘toughen up because that was what the working world was like.’
However, things really came to a head the second week Juanita was at work. It all began with Ms.Wilson asking her to take a cheque to a specific loan officer at a commercial bank. When Juanita had finally reached the bank and asked for the loan officer she was told the person was at lunch. Not wanting to go back with the cheque as Ms.Wilson had been adamant about getting the cheque to the loan officer, Juanita had explained the situation to another loan officer. They had assured her that she could leave the cheque and that as soon as the loan officer came back from her lunch, the cheque would be processed as Mr.Carillion was an important customer.
Feeling satisfied, Juanita had made the long walk back to the office. When she got back and told Ms. Wilson what had happened, the woman had reprimanded her for leaving the cheque.
Ms Wilson immediately dialled Mr Carillion to complain about Juanita and put Juanita on the phone to explain what had happened at the bank. Ms. Wilson had wanted Juanita to go back for the cheque but Mr. Carillion decided to give the loan officer a call instead. When Juanita finally understood what all the fuss was about, she came to know that the other branch had been waiting on the cheque to be deposited into their bank account so they could give out some small loans.
Since then Ms.Wilson had grown increasingly even more frosty towards her. One day Ms.Wilson’s mother showed up at the workplace. None of the men was there that day as they were all on the road doing whatever it was they did to get new borrowers. Juanita could hear the two women in Mr.Carillon’s office laughing and talking loudly. Then she heard her name being called for her to come into the office.
Ms Wilson’s mother had looked her up and down sneeringly like one of those wicked mothers-in-law in those Nigerian movies. All Juanita could think in her mind was why these women thought that she would be interested in trying to seduce Mr.Carillon, she didn’t know. She didn’t think like them. She didn’t see upward mobility for herself as being one of the girlfriends of some businessman. Juanita could read the women’s thoughts like an open book.
However, it was the Friday of the second week that things really heated up. It was nearly lunchtime when, Mr. Carillion, Ms.Wilson and Mr. Rodolfo called her into Mr. Carillon’s office to tell her that BZD$5000 was missing. All three had looked at her with accusations on their faces.
Juanita did not know where she got such calm from but she stared them squarely in the eyes and said
” I have nothing to do with any missing money and it’s my lunchtime so excuse me”
She had immediately turned and walked out of the building to go and buy her lunch. She remembered walking and thinking clearly that she was being set up. She prayed immediately in her heart for God to help her.
When she had returned from lunch she went straight back to her desk and resumed working. Nearing the end of the day Mr. Carillion and Ms.Wilson called her into the office to let her know they had found the money. Feeling relieved and thinking everything was over, she went back to her desk. Thirty minutes later they called her again into the office, this time to fire her. They had started taking out cash to pay her the week’s wage when she told them,
” I don’t want your money.”
She promptly retrieved her handbag and walked out of their office with not so much as a goodbye. She remained strong until she had reached a small bakery before she burst into the deepest tears she had ever cried. Juanita was so distraught, that the lady running the bakery simply took her by the hand and led her to a clean bathroom.
Juanita cried and cried. The one thing she prided herself on was her character. She had never been a thief. In that bathroom stall, she cried out to God for immediate vengeance on Ms.Wilson. She told God that she would not take this and that he should fight for her. When she was finally able to collect herself from crying she called Meera, who came to pick her up. She cried again in Meera’s car after explaining what happened. They had made Juanita feel like what her mother had been saying about being “tough and needing to learn to endure the corporate world more’ might just be true.
Later that night, Mrs.Hernandez and another of her mom’s friends had just so happened to visit. They asked Juanita to tell them what happened. Her mother had already known that Juanita was complaining repeatedly about Ms.Wilson’s attitude and treatment of her. She told them what she believed; that it was Ms.Wilson who had tried to frame her for stealing the BZD $5000 to get her fired. Juanita felt that there was more to it but after the heartless responses from Mrs.Hernandez and even the silence from her mother, she left the matter alone.
“ That’s how it is in the business world. Juanita, you are too soft. How will you keep a job if you keep running away from everything.” Mrs.Hernandez had said.
” You will face this and many other things you just have to grin and bear it.” The other woman Mrs. Graham chipped in.
By the time they were done Juanita felt twice beaten. Unbeknownst to Juanita, that night Mrs. Hernandez and Mrs. Graham called Ms. Wilson and placed her on speaker to discuss their thwarted plans for Juanita.
“ How could you let her get away, Alisha?” Mrs. Hernandez scolded Ms.Wilson calling her by her first name.
” She didn’t confess or even fumble a little bit when we told her about the missing money or when we implied that we thought it was her. İ thought she would crack and say something like she may have made a mistake, like the other girls we have done this to usually do. But she just walked off saying she was going to lunch.” Ms.Wilson explained over the phone.
” This was your biggest weapon, your trump card. Calling your loan officer friend to say the other loan officer was at lunch was a good idea, but this last one would have surely sunk her. She would be walking around the community with the stigma of a thief on her from now on. You should have pressured her more Alisha! Gotten her to at least say it was because she was incompetent and she either under collected some loan repayments.” Mrs. Hernandez bitterly chastised Ms. Wilson.
” Even the girl’s mother agreed to the plan after we told her it would help to toughen up Juanita and curb her growing attitude. Yet you messed it up! Remember it was me who introduced you to that fat cat Mr. Carillon and got you that supervisor job you love so much.” Mrs.Hernandez reminded Ms.Wilson.
“ İ hear you Mrs.Hernandez if anything the girl must be feeling bad and her confidence must be shaken. Next time now, next one..okay ” Ms.Wilson replied.
” Ah ah, we almost had her! Ah damn it! that goody-goody little bitch got away.’ Mrs.Hernandez complained bitterly.
” You should have put the money in her handbag or something and then searched her,” Mrs. Hernandez continued complaining.
About a week later, Juanita was in her room activating her PayPal card when her mother knocked on her door. Maria Cortazar had just returned from her job up by Mr.Martinez’s estate. İt was around 6 pm. She was grateful her daughter had cooked and cleaned the house.
” Hey, how are you?” She asked Juanita.
“ I’m good, it’s been a nice day,” Juanita replied.
“ Well, you will never guess what I heard today from Mrs. Hernandez,” Maria said.
” İf it’s another job recommended by Ms.Hernandez I’m not interested.”
“ No no, that Ms.Wilson had a huge falling out with Mr.Carillon. He was going to fire her but I heard she got on her knees and begged him to keep her job. So he had her demoted and transferred to another office.” Juanita’s mother revealed.
” Yes! Wonderful news. That wicked woman got what she deserves. God answered my prayers. I hope her conscience bothers her for years. So evil!” Juanita said feeling appeased.
” Well anyway Juanita, I got you on the payroll up by the Estate. You can start working come Monday. There are going to be a lot of events. Adrianna is creating the list and dates of all the scheduled parties to give to the staff. You know she will be in charge of handling all those events along with an event planner. Such a capable girl that Adrianna.” Her mother informed Juanita.
Rolling her eyes, Juanita went back to what she was doing and dismissively said,
” İs there anything else mom?”
” Ah no baby girl, ah thanks for cooking.”
” Yeah, no problem,” Juanita replied.
” Alright bye then.” Maria Cortazar said and exited her daughter’s room.
Juanita had realized more and more how much she was getting over needing her mother’s approval anymore. When she was younger she had always wanted to make her mother proud. Especially when no one expected many achievements from a young single mother and her daughter. İf anything everyone was waiting around to see when Juanita would turn into a single mom like her mother.
Nevertheless, Juanita had vowed to always achieve and pursue a great life. She wanted to be wealthy and happily married. She wanted to love her future children and spend time with them. She had dreamt of retiring her mother and sending her on vacation. She dreamt of both of them living the good life.
Feeling like she needed an injection of goodness and hope she went on the internet to browse the Trott Bailey 1Drop website. She was immediately suffused with exciting breaking news from the family. The Trott Bailey Family had discovered new colored minerals in Bolivia. These minerals came in startling shades of undiscovered colors. Apparently, after testing out the colored powder minerals, it was discovered that adding water and baking the mixture into bricks at high heat resulted in a material harder and stronger than concrete.
Not only that, but the colored bricks were spectacular for creating buildings that needed no painting. The longer the bricks were in the sun the stronger they became and the more glazed and shiny they looked. These new bricks made from the discovered mineral were now being incorporated in the building of the family’s worldwide Kingdoms. The media report also said that the ‘Katya and Zolokhan World and Theme Park was already completed.‘ Juanita remembered going to watch the Katya and Zolokhan movie with her whole family a few years ago. It was an instant hit and a classic now.
” Wow, these people are so amazing. Everything they do or touch just prospers and ends up being spectacular. Oh if only they could come to Belize and run this country.” Juanita said out loud in her empty room.
Just then she saw Meera’s picture coming up on her QuickChat screen. Answering the video call, she saw Meera walking around in her kitchen.
” Hey girl, I talked with my uncle. He says there are some good overseas work programs coming up that you can start applying for but won’t be ready to start until after the elections and parliament settles down. He mentioned one in particular about going to Japan to work on a specialized cattle farm where they make Wagyu beef. Apparently, Wagyu is a very expensive beef that the Japanese are famous for. If you want I can send you the link to the application process and when the time comes my uncle will put in a good word for you. İt maybe a year and a half before you hear “ Meera rapidly informed her while eating panadas.
” Well i never imagined myself cattle farming but I’m open to anything, especially if it involves traveling. Yeah, send me the website link.” Juanita replied.
” Ok girl. Hey you know Adrianna is having a lot of parties this political season. My family is invited of course. İ hear her dad also asked her to do a couple of the events where her school friends are invited. You know to get the young people’s vote. Are you going?” Meera asked her.
“ İ may be working those events as a matter of fact. I’m on payroll now up by their Estate.” Juanita replied.
” Ah Ah, you know that bitch will try to make your life miserable right,” Meera asked looking aghast.
“ What’s new? Anyway, I can more than handle her, I will never let her walk over me.” Juanita replied.
” That bitch thinks that because her mother was some blonde french woman her father married, and her skin came out so light that her shit doesn’t stink,” Meera said huffily.
“ İ swear she is a walking stereotype from out of some mean girl movie! What I can’t understand is her dislike of me ever since high school” Juanita replied.
” Juanita stop acting daft! Chica with you have natural good looks, you are naturally confident, and you have the” It” factor that I can’t quite put into words but you got that “It” thing. Then on top of it your not a snob bitch like her, your down to earth and likable. Everyone at school knows your chill as fuck. The bitch can’t stand you and no one can stand her” Meera said knowingly.
“Anyway let’s not talk about her, she is like a dark cloud rolling in. How are your preparations for Harvard going?” Juanita asked curiously.
” Oh, girl mommy is taking care of all that. We are supposed to go up and look for apartments near campus next month. Me, I just want to party as much as I can before I leave in September.” Meera said jovially.
” How is it working out with Juan the footballer?” Juanita faked interest and asked her friend
“ Ah, he is old news! After the sex, he was so boring to talk to. Everything was sports this, English Premier league that….blah blah blah.” Meera said rolling her eyes and gesturing with her hands. Just then Meera’s mother, Mrs. Darthango passed by and quickly inserted her head into their video chat to say
” Hi Juanita, congrats on placing so high in the exams. Wow third in the country. Really excellent!”
” Thanks, Mrs. Darthango,” Juanita replied politely.
“ So how is your business coming along?” Meera asked curiously.
“ Really good, my website is up and running. İ have inserted my logo into the web design template I bought and I’m doing the write-up about myself and my brand. İ just need videos of the products and other video content to populate the website.” Juanita replied.
“ Girl how do you even know how to manage your website and do all those things?” Meera asked wonderingly.
“ Lots of SchoolYou videos and I swear Meera it’s like God is just opening my mind to these things and just making it so easy for me to understand these things. God keeps telling me to record my life and the snakeskin and the whole process of making the handbags and sandals. That’s the urge I keep feeling.” Juanita confided.
” Well, I can’t wait to see the actual bags themselves and your shoes. Girl I never knew you had this many hidden talents. I truly envy your ass. Literally and figuratively. You got a nice ass.” Meera said cheekily.
Juanita simply responded with her typical rolled eyes at Meera’s last words.
” Well, that’s exactly what I was going to go do before you called. İ have the snake skins here and I got a sewing machine from Michelle. I’m delving into the designing today.” Juanita told her friend.
” Ok girl, well get to it! Bye for now.” Meera said.
” Later Bestie!” Juanita replied and ended their QuickChat session.