Volume 44: When Jealousy Strikes

“Love may exist without jealousy, although this is rare; but jealousy may exist without love, and this is common.” –Unknown

            If you were to look up the word love, you’d be likely to see a plethora of definitions and opinions of what it is. Some would say it’s a strong positive emotion of regard and affection, like a man’s love for his work. Others will say it’s a profound, passionate affection for another person, a sexual passion or desire.

As beautiful as love is, love is never present without jealousy. Francois de la Rochefoucauld once said, “Jealousy is bred in doubts. When those doubts change into certainties, then the passion either ceases or turns into absolute madness.”
(Yes…I have an “inner nerd” that often retains tons of useless information like that)
            So what causes jealous love? The truth is, there are many things that can be credited to a jealous counterpart. One of the most common reasons for jealously is the assumption of infidelity and the perceived notion that one could be intertwined in a love triangle. In virtually every love triangle, the arrangement is unsuitable to one or more of those involved. One person usually winds up getting hurt-sometimes literally. A common love triangle involves one person, torn between two other suitors of vastly contrasting personalities. One of them could be a nice guy type that treats you good, and the other a physically attractive bad boy that is potentially dangerous. Eventually, choices must be made and the nice guy is often perceived as “too good to be true” and the bad boy winds up becoming the more desirable partner. Unrequited love and jealousy go hand in hand with love triangles, and although rare, some love triangles have ended in murder, suicide or long lasting aftereffects from the rejected lover.

            The only thing worse than a love triangle, is being accused of being in a love triangle by a jealous mate. Yes…it’s true. I too have been accused of creeping with someone else’s girl. Think I’m bullshitting? Well, here’s my story:

“The ear of jealousy heareth all things.” –The Holy Bible

            I wasn’t always a Photographer. Those who follow my Random Thoughts or know me personally know that I was quite the fashion design student at Cheyney University. It was the summer of 2000, and I was a 20 year-old looking for work during the summer break from college, aspiring to be a fashion designer. I was given a retail sales position in the Men’s Department at the Lord & Taylor department store on City Line Avenue in Philadelphia. I had gotten my first car just days ago- a metallic purple Honda Accord SE. A college student with a $16,000 car and a five-year payment plan would likely think, “How the hell am I gonna pay for this?” but I was on top of the world. I was getting screwed with my menial retail job, paying a mere $6.50 an hour, but I was also working as a Photographer’s Assistant (and 2 years later became a photographer myself) and that money more than made up for Lord & Taylor’s slave wages.

            To be honest, Lord & Taylor was a pretty cool job. I got a great employee discount on clothes (When you go to an HBCU, it’s imperative to stay fresh), a consistent check every week, and the company of friendly employees. The majority of employees in the Men’s Department were young, and helped me transition quickly, without making me feel like “the new guy.” The women who worked there were no Halle Berry’s, but they were cool and their likeable personalities helped the time fly by during long shifts. At the time, I was the only one of the younger employees with a reliable means of transportation. Everyone else relied on the Bus. Most of my coworkers lived in nearby West Philadelphia and if they missed their bus after a long shift, it wasn’t uncommon for them to ask for a ride home. I would take the 4 of them (often three females and one male) on a 5-8 minute ride and drop them off at their homes-it was never an inconvenience. It’s just one of those things that nice guys do, Right?

            One day during my hour-long lunch break, one of the females in my department asked to get dropped off at the Shop n Bag grocery store, which happened to be in the same complex as Lord & Taylor, just on the opposite end end-about 150 yards away. It was common for her to walk over there during a lunch break on payday to cash her check at a local bank, which was located inside of the grocery store. Her asking to be dropped off didn’t inconvenience me much, because the distance was only a minute’s drive. She explained that it was raining outside and she didn’t want to walk down and back. Minutes later, here I amMr. Nice Guy…giving a ride to a co-worker in need. She got out of my car at the main doors and said, “Can you wait for me? I’m gonna cash this check and be right back out.”
I’m thinking to myself, Here we go… Give a Nigga an inch, and they take a yard. But after all, I was still on my lunch break and had only spent about 3 minutes of it so far. This wouldn’t take long at all.
            Fifteen minutes later…here I am…double-parked outside the Shop n Bag grocery store with my face is a scowl, suddenly reminded of why they say that Nice Guys Finish Last. She comes out after about 20 minutes and before she could enter the car, she pauses and then walked over to an older model Subaru that was double-parked on the opposing side of traffic, about twelve feet in front of me. A slender guy walks over to her and they begin to exchange words. I happened to have the music up and couldn’t hear a word of what they were saying, but it didn’t look good. Their arms were flailing in the air like they were arguing and on one occasion he motioned over in the direction of my car. I smirked to myself and continued to listen to my music- impatiently waiting for this dumb girl to get back in the car so I could enjoy what was left of my lunch. Moments later, he got back into his car and she returned to mine. “Jealous Mutha-fucka,” she mumbled under her breath …as I drove off to return to work.

            I finished out my lunch break in the break room with my co-worker. An awkward silence loomed in the room, due to the parking lot confrontation witnessed just a few minutes ago. When my lunch break was over, I returned to the sales floor to earn my slave wages. As I partook in the monotonous duties of a retail worker- cleaning displays and refolding Ralph Lauren shirts-I began to ring up a few customers who had finally settled on their purchases. While scanning away and ringing up their items, I hear a voice say, “Ayo fam…lemme holla at you for a second.”
I look up, and stepping out from behind a mirrored pillar next to the waiting customers…was the very same guy that my coworker was arguing with in the parking lot while getting a ride from me. This mutha-fucka…is at my mutha-fuckin’ job! Are you serious?!? I had a thousand questions racing through my head. Is this guy some kind of jealous boyfriend? Is he here to fight? What the hell is this fool doin’ at my job?!?
So, I finished up my sales transaction and walked right over to him. After all, I didn’t do anything wrong. He stood about 5’9 and was even slimmer than I was. He looked as though he had been crying and seemed uneasy. I’m thinking to myself, Worst case scenario…he tries some dumb shit in here…Imma kick his ass up and down this sales floor easily…with my suit and shoes on! (laughing)
            He appeared nervous talking to me as I listened intently. “Look, I ain’t even here to fuck with you,” he said. “I just wanna ask you one question.”
My right hand remained clinched in a tight fist…just in case this idiot dared to try me. “Have you ever been to the house, or around our daughter?” I was standing close enough to smell the beer on his breath. I wasn’t even sure at this point if there would even be any reasoning with him. He appeared to be alone, though he was with a few others when I initially saw him in the parking lot. My patience was already wearing thin with this dumb situation. I had never been accused of messing around with someone else’s girl. I said, “Look…it’s not like that. I just work here and she asked me for a ride to cash a check. I don’t mess with any of these co-workers, don’t come to anyone’s house, and don’t deal with anyone else’s women.” He still didn’t seem convinced. Frankly, I didn’t give a shit. There were more customers that needed my assistance and I had no intention on swearing on bibles and taking polygraph tests. I told him that he could wait until I was done with my customers and we could rap-even bring her over to explain if need be. He sits on a fixture nearby, on top of some shirts that I had recently folded. Ignorant Bastard.
            You know, God works in mysterious ways. On that particular day at that particular time, our department is usually very slow and boring. Because I had some insecure moron at my job…today, business was insane. I had a line of people to deal with, and he just had to wait. He began to pace back and forth, which made me extremely nervous as I fought to hold back my laughter. My coworker was miraculously nowhere to be found. Eventually I get rid of all of the frenzied customers and looked for this mystery character. He was gone. I explained the story to one of the other employees amid all of her laughter at my unfortunate luck. I decided that I would express a few choice words to my coworker about her psychotic boyfriend coming to my job, confronting me about nonsense. Strangely, I didn’t see her for the duration of the evening. The next day I came to work, and she didn’t show up. Our manager asked if anyone had spoken to her to seen her that day. None of us knew her whereabouts. It was as though she vanished.

            The following day, I stood on the Men’s floor, bored out of my mind. As a began to ring up a sale for a customer, my register phone rang. In the event that someone calls the department store and has a question for our department, the dispatcher will transfer them to any one of the registers on the sales floor. I took the call. “Men’s department…Ron speaking.” There was heavy breathing on the other end. “Hello?” I repeated. The breathing became louder. I hung up the phone and continued working. Two minutes later, my register phone rang again. A familiar voice spoke out on the other end, almost in a whisper. “Ayo…remember me?” I began to shake my head in annoyance, because I realized it was the same moron from the other day. “How can I help you?” I asked, in my most sarcastic of tones. This game was beginning to become very annoying. The next words that followed I still remember crystal clear to this very day: “Yo…my girl… is gonna be coming back to work eventually. I’m telling you…If I ever catch you anywhere near her or with her again…I swear to God…I’m going to kill you.”

Now I was pissed. I never had my life threatened, and I wasn’t about to be threatened by some skinny ass nut-job who could barely make eye contact with me when he was standing two feet away from me two days ago.

            Now I’m from Philadelphia, and I refuse to underestimate anyone. Personally, I think he was just a dog without teeth, however those very same guys are the first ones to go running for a gun to solve their perceived problems. I knew not to take this threat lightly, so I actually did what most people in my situation would have done. I reported it. I ended up in the security office, filing a report with the officers on site, in the event that this moron would actually attempt to make good on his promise. They checked the tapes from the day that he showed up on the sales floor and they even had outside surveillance from the car that he arrived in. There was only one last thing that I had to do…inform my hood ass friends of this potential death threat. I figured if something were to happen to me…all hell was gonna break loose! (laughing) If I was gonna end up caught up in some nonsense for giving someone I wasn’t even attracted to a ride…then we would see if he was as crazy as the lunatics that I grew up with from the block. (lauging)

            My coworker never returned to work that day, and never returned to work at all. I had never seen or heard from the psychotic boyfriend either. Five weeks after the incident, it was time for me to return to college and turn the page to another chapter of my life. I never realized how quickly something as innocent as a ride for a coworker could trigger the jealousy of a jaded lover. Erica Jones once said, “Jealousy is all the fun you think they had.” I had learned to be very careful of the company that I keep. You read about love triangles and people who pay the ultimate sacrifice for a few minutes of pleasure with another person’s lover. You really hafta be careful…
“While intelligent people can often simplify the complex, a fool is more likely to complicate the simple.” –Gerald W. Grumet

…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…
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