Shereen McKellar
Lovers And Roommates






3


Zayla




Slamming Shannon's Stratus door shut, I speedwalked across the parking lot and towards the doors of Five Below. I really didn't feel like working today. Let me keep it 100. Its every day I don't feel like working. I just get tired of scanning items, stamping bonus cards, stocking candy and folding T-shirts. But until I started teaching full-time I had to grin and bear it unless I hit the jackpot, but I had more of a chance finding a straight guy who really loved to shop than winning $250 million dollars. And since I was no longer living footloose and fancy free with mommy and daddy, I had rent to worry about. I peered into the entrance glass door and found my buddy Jazmin heading out the employees' back room. She noticed me peeking through the door and bounded towards it in her short-sleeved orange shirt with the name Five Below written in blue letters and dark blue jeans that were painted on her hips and thick thighs.

"Hi Zayla!" Jazmin greeted in a pleasant voice when she unlocked the door. Jazmin was a real cute, dark brown-skinned, baby-faced girl, but Lord knows she didn't have the shape of a baby cause girlfriend's a biiiig girl. She was statuesque at five foot ten and had to be a size sixteen. When I first met her I thought she was in her early twenties. It would have never crossed my mind she was an eighteen-year-old college sophomore.

I must've had a I'm-about-to-knock-someone-the-hell-out glare on my face because Jazmin's smile turned into a frown. "What's wrong with you? You look like you about to murder somebody."

"Nothing," I answered, heading towards the first register to punch in for the day. "It's just that your co-worker was about to head off to jail for assault this morning."

Jazmin's eyes were wide as she leaned forward like she was watching a soap opera. "What happened?"

I recanted the story of my crazy morning as we entered the employees' room. "No, check this out. I'm driving down Easton road and this fool is behind me honking his horn and on my butt like he lost his mind. So I just ignored his dumbass cause if he's in that much of a hurry he can go around me, right? Well, all of a sudden he's gonna cut in front of me and give me the finger when I beeped my horn at him. I swear if I was driving my own car, I would've rammed it into that car of his and wouldn't give a fuck."

"Yeah, that's a shame it wasn't your car because what you could've did was when he was on you like that, you could've just slammed on your brakes to make him run in back of you."

"When I get my own car that's exactly what I'm gonna do the next time that happens." Then a better idea clicked into my brain. "Better than that, I'm going to blow bubbles the next time somebody wants to hurl some damn road rage at me. I should have an extra dollar on me so I can buy me a bottle of bubbles." I took my wallet out my purse, unzipped it and sure enough I had an extra Washington hiding behind a crisp Lincoln.

"Zayla, you crazy." Jazmin doubled over in laughter.

"Well, these impatient mother jumpers better not be crazy because I'm going to have some bubbles for their asses." I slammed my navy blue purse inside our cabinet and closed it.

"So you're Zayla?" An unfamiliar voice asked in back of me. I swirled around and almost choked on my saliva. My heart dropped to the floor like a bar of soap. The guy was tall and slim with high, chiseled cheekbones like mine, light brown far apart eyes and the thinnest eyebrows I've ever seen. He looked at me with a silly smirk on his face.

"What are you doing here?" My eyes narrowed in suspicion. "First you were trying to run me off the road. Now you trying to run me out of here, is that it?" Surprised wasn't even the word on what I was feeling. What in the hell was he doing wearing a Five-Below T shirt? And better yet, what was he doing standing in front of the managers' office?

He still had that goofy smirk on his face which I wanted to bitch slap off. "Nice to meet you again too, I'm not trying to run you out of here unless you cross me. My name is Terrence and I'm actually the new store manager." He extended his big hand for a handshake.

For a minute I stood there frozen and watched his lips. Then my eyes darted towards the door. I was hoping he was one of those practical joke playing actors and was about to shout, "You just got Punk'd." Hell, I was hoping that goofy Ashton Kutcher would swing open that door with his camera crew right behind him rushing towards me to capture my reaction on tape. But that hope was buried six feet under with a tombstone on top because those words never escaped from Terrence's or whatever his name mouth nor did anyone rush into the room.

I reluctantly shook his hand. If his managing skills were anything like his driving skills, believe me I would be putting job applications in every store left and right and right and left. I could hear Jazmin giggling up a storm next to me.

"Since we're all here now let's start our five minute chat at the registers so I can tell you ladies what's on the agenda today." Jazmin and I followed him onto the sales floor and towards the counter. He looked down at the agenda sheet on his wooden clipboard. "Today, Zayla you're going to be our head cashier so you're going to be on register one. Jazmin, your main job will be pricing and stocking the new school supplies that came in, but you'll also be Zayla's backup so you'll be on register two."

Terrence continued. "We're also starting a new action plan today where shoppers can get coupons and find out about different promotional deals and new merchandise every month with that being said I need you to ask for every customer's e-mail address at the end of each transaction.

I looked at him like he said he was The Messiah. People were attitudey when we use to ask them for their zip code at the beginning of each sale. I tell you, if it's not one thing it's another.

Terrence must've noticed my less than enthusiastic facial expression because he questioned. "What's wrong, Zayla? You don't look like you like the new plan too much."

"I don't." I answered bluntly. "We had people who had an attitude when we would ask them for their zip codes and now we're gonna have people getting an attitude because we're asking for their email addresses. And a lot of people don't like giving out their email addresses because they don't like getting junk e-mails."

"I know it's hard." Terrence peered into my eyes. "But it has to be done. If you don't do it, you know no one is irreplaceable."

I looked at him and then I looked at Jazmin and then back at Terrence. I know he wasn't implying he was going to be firing folks because they won't be getting some customers' email addresses because personally he can take the addresses and shove it up his behind. I swear people get some authority and let it get to their heads, but Boss Man got the wrong one because I can see me and him going at it every day.

"Now here's the sheet for each customer to sign." He slid the clipboard with the sheets attached underneath to the front of the counter. Then he lifted his wrist to glance at his silver watch. "All right ladies. It's that time. If you ladies need me I'll be in the back doing the schedule for next week."

As he headed towards the employees' room Jazmin's body convulsed in laughter before I could say a word. "Here you go about to go to jail for assault and come to find out it's with our new store manager. I'm telling you, this sounds like something from the movies or from a sitcom."

"I'm glad you're peeing in your jeans," My voice dripped with sarcasm when I headed towards the doors and unlocked them. "because I don't find not one bit of it amusing."

"I'm sorry, Zayla," Jazmin apologized after bouts of laughter. "But it's funny. And you should've seen the look on your face when he walked out the office. Then she added. "I wouldn't mind him being on my butt. He's cute."

"I swear you and my best friend with these pretty boys." I shook my head. I don't care what anyone says, I prefer an Idris Elba over a Boris Kodjoe anyday.

Jazmin frowned. "I thought you had to be light-skinned with good hair to be a pretty boy."

"Well he may not be a pretty boy," I responded, using quotation marks with my fingers. "But he got those light eyes and high cheekbones. I bet you if you put a wig and a dress on him, he'll be getting more hollers from the brothas on the street than us with his male supermodel looking ass."

"Shut up, Zayla." Jazmin grinned as a short, stocky, brown-skinned guy with glasses approached the counter with a Pepsi.

The next four hours went pretty well. The only time I seen Terrence's face is when he came out on the floor to talk to the owners and the district manager. And that was the only time I explained to the customers about being notified about sales and new items through email and asked for their email addresses. Other than that, I didn't ask for a damn thing other than did they find everything okay. But like all good things, my good day was about to come to an end because when Jazmin went out for her half an hour lunch and the line was getting long, Terrence started ringing on the second register. And once again I faked it and asked for the customers' email addresses. When the line dwindled, Terrence picked up the clipboard and scanned the email address list.

"You only collected four email addresses?" His bow-shaped lips curled into a frown.

"Yeah, because only four customers wanted to give out their email addresses." I answered defensively. "I told you a lot of people don't like to give out their email addresses. I don't even like giving out my email address."

"Well this isn't about you. This is about the store. Besides, you know whatever you're trying to do in retail, whether it's selling an item or soliciting something, it's all about BSing. You probably can get ten addresses from the male customers alone. I can get ten addresses within twenty minutes to a half an hour from the female customers alone."

"Are you trying to tell me I have to flirt with customers to get email addresses?" I lifted an eyebrow.

"Yes. I flirt all the time with female customers, but it's very easy because a lot of them are beautiful. What can I say?"

"I bet your girlfriend or wife or whoever she is to you wouldn't appreciate it if she knew about you flirting with all these different females."

"My girlfriend knows I flirt. I tell her everything. Just like today I'll tell her I met this girl who couldn't drive to save her life."

"Excuse me?" I stared at him evilly from his anorexic eyebrows to his big Nike-covered feet. "You better be talking about some other girl who can't drive because if you're talking about me you obviously need to take a mental exam."

"Well, do you have a degree in Psychology since you know who needs to take a mental exam?" Terrence questioned sarcastically.

That did it. I'm about to let his ass have it in the worst way. I felt my face and ears getting scorching hot. "I don't need to have a degree in Psychology to know that somebody has issues. And that's exactly what you have being on my butt and honking your horn like you lost your mind. Even Stevie Wonder could see that you were acting like a fool."

"Let's be professional here, Zayla. Besides, it's not my fault you were driving all slow." He countered. "Even that old lady walking on the sidewalk with her walker was passing you."

"That's a bold-faced lie," This clown was really getting on my first and last nerves. "I was driving thirty five miles an hour which was posted on the speed sign. Now if you couldn't see that big sign, not only do you need to take a mental exam, but you need an eye exam too."

"Now you listen-"

I cut him off and checked him real quick. "No, you listen. Now if you in a hurry because you don't want to be late then you need to leave fifteen or twenty minutes earlier."

"Uh-oh, let me hurry up and clock in and go onto the floor." Jazmin had an ear-to-ear grin on her face as she punched in on the second register. I was so heated in my verbal exchange with No Eyebrows Asshole that I didn't notice when Jazmin walked into the store.

"No, no, no," said Terrence. "You don't have to go onto the floor. You can ring right here on this register. It's time for Zayla to go to lunch," Then he had the nerve to say. "Thank God."

I clocked out for lunch before I shot him a deadpanned glare. "You better thank God because if I don't take time to cool off I'm about to do something that'll have me behind bars for assaulting my boss."

Storming towards the employees' room, I smacked the door open and flung the cabinet's door where my purse laid inside. I felt my face getting hotter by the second as I grabbed my purse and slung it over my shoulder. Who the hell does he think he is? Telling somebody they can't drive like someone gave his ass The Driver of The Millennium award. And if he has I want to see the original with the gold seal. No photocopies. Then I want to meet the idiot or idiots who gave him the award so I can give them a drug test. Then on top of that his dumb ass had the audacity to get an attitude over four email addresses. Well, I want to see him do better. But you know what? He can kiss my ass with some dookie in the middle. And after he does that, he can get a hair transplant for those non-existent eyebrows of his before stressing about some damn email addresses again. Oooh, he don't know how close he came to me grabbing that fucking head of his and bashing it against the register. But I know that Mr. Pain-In-The-Back-and-Ass is at the very top of my shit list.

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