Fired Up

Maybe the next job would be easy again, like the last one.  He remembered sitting in the conference room of the big environmental company, just him, the company lawyer and his boss, all in jeans and shirts from all-natural materials to show how much they respected the earth.  But they didn’t, didn’t respect anything either, including him, so here they were.

“So, do you prefer Mr. Smooth Water, or Joshua?” said the lawyer, smiling, try to be his friend so it would cost the company less.

“It’s pronounced ‘Ya-wa’,” Josh said.  “Joshua is just the white spelling.  And Smooth Water is my formal Chippewa name, from my mother’s tribe.  It should not be used by whites.”  Let him know Josh wasn’t his friend, and this would cost the company more. The lawyer looked at him and thought, maybe he’s native American, maybe not.  Josh had the kind of light-dark look that could be Hispanic, Middle Eastern, white, black, whatever he needed to be.  In any case, the lawyer knew he couldn’t challenge him on it.

“Thank you, Joshua,” the lawyer said, pronouncing it “Ya-wa” like Josh had asked, smiling.  Josh didn’t smile back, sat there with his arms crossed, like the picture of Sitting Bull he had seen, offended but impassive.  “It’s my understanding that Mr. Johnson here, acting in his position as your supervisor, has terminated you from your position here at California Green Industry.  He believes he had cause, you believe he did not.  Is that a fair statement of the situation?”

Josh looked at him, steady, playing out the part of a proud, offended man forced to describe a painful insult.  “I came to this company because it said it would help protect the land of my fathers, clean up the streams and take the white man’s poisons out of the air.  In the week I have been here, I have been insulted and shamed, despite doing my best.”

“The jerk hasn’t done a lick of work since the day he came in,” said Johnson.  “Just sits on that cheap blanket drinking company coffee, explaining that each day is some sacred day of some kind that won’t let him do this job or that.”





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