Her name was Pat, and she was my supervisor when I was hired in 1974 at the telephone company in Atlanta, Georgia. She was a hard task-master, determined to show that, as the first black woman given a supervisory position over white males, she was capable of doing the job.
My complaint against her was that she worked another black female and myself harder than the white males and females. We were the first black females hired in the traditionally-male job. When we asked why we were assigned to three or four tasks, while the white employees were only given two, she responded that she did not want to be accused of favoritism.
I admired her, but I did not like her. So, I resigned one Friday. When I gave her my resignation letter, she wished me luck and thanked me for being a good employee.
That weekend, my first husband beat me near death. After taking his last $20, I escaped and went back to Atlanta. On that Monday, I went back to work as though I had not resigned.
I had open scars around my neck from where my ex-husband had choked me and left his nail prints. One eye was still nearly closed, and from where he had cracked a glass window with my face, I had a long scar between my eyes.
Pat was the first person I saw when I entered the building. She looked at me, and with tears in her eyes, she said, “Go on back to work. I have not sent your paperwork in.” It was an amazing moment, one that changed my life. I was so scared that she was going to say that I had resigned and that I couldn’t come back.
If that had happened, I would have had to go back home, and my batterer had said to me, “I am going to beat you every day until you learn to respect me.” I probably would not be alive today, if she had not shown me such compassion and restored my faith and hope in God and in humanity.
I never complained again when she gave me extra work. She was still “a piece of work,” as the British say, but we developed a mutual respect for each other. I never forgot that I owed her a great debt, for she made it possible for me to give my children a solid middle-class life with me in it.
Written for The Sunday Prompt from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie: Faith Restored. We were asked to “take a moment to recognize the heroes in our lives, people who have restored our faith in humanity when all hope seemed lost.