She greeted me with the same disparaging tone I expected every week.
I cringed. That was not my name. Why did she insist on calling me Vernon when she knew it wasn’t my name? Everyone called me by my proper name, everyone spoke to me in a civil tone – apart from her.
With a sigh she turned to her colleague and explained that I was the youth volunteering at the local library for the next few months. She muttered how she found it pointless. Thankfully her colleague, Sarah, didn’t have the same prejudiced opinion.
“Come on sunshine!” she called in a cheerful voice. “Matt left some books that require stacking and asked if you could do them today.”
When she finished explaining what to do, she turned to me and smiled. “We appreciate you coming in every weekend to help us.”
There! A simple niceness transcends all hatred and repugnant attitudes. I gave her my full 100 megawatt smile, dimples and all. I caught a glimpse of the old crone staring at us and scowling. It made me smile harder.
One hour later and my shift was over. So little time but so much fun. Sarah gave me a thumbs up as she headed to the backroom and wished me a good week. The harpy sat behind the counter watching me. I had to get my jacket from behind there, so I forced a friendly smile onto my face and walked towards her.
“So Vernon, are you coming back next week, or aren’t you going to bother?” Her gritty smile and resentful tone set my teeth on edge, but I kept my cool.
“Yes Mrs Achemore, I will be returning next week.”
“Mrs Achemore is NOT my name!” she hissed, pushing her scrawny face towards mine. I could see the hatred in the watery depths of yellowed regnant eyes. Hatred for my skin colour or my age? Considering she was the same colour as me, I had to assume it was my youthful dexterity that set off fire alarms in her head.
Pity I didn’t care.
I pushed my face forward, meeting hers with only an inch to spare. Opening my eyes just wide enough for her to see inside, I released the inner beast – the churning hatred for being belittled by an inept woman who smelt of patchouli and French Lace perfume. My anger roared and I gave a wicked grin. She flinched as she glimpsed the devil hiding within. With a snap I pulled my head back.
“I know that Mrs Achemore. And you know my name is not Vernon!”
My jacket flicked past her short stumpy nose and I gave a brief wave as I left the library.
Let’s see if she calls me Vernon again next week.