Brielle couldn’t understand it. You had women like Kim, who kissed the boots her husband walked in and practically wiped his butt, only for him to treat her like some stupid animal. Asshole Hank had Kim wrapped around his finger. Kim was the type who would cancel a day out with friends or dinner with her sister to appease Hank. She was always available to him and would drop everything for his cantankerous butt.
Then, you had crazy, unhinged bitches like Misty, who always seemed to get men who talked tough in public but were easily “whipped” at home. Women like Misty could crack that whip and the men in their lives would straighten up, or would they? Maybe to their women’s faces.
Brielle shook off her thoughts, grabbed her purse and keys as she heard another car pull into the driveway.
“Jane! Grandma Bennett just pulled up. I’ve got to get to work. You and Olivia be sure to help Grandma Bennett with the baby. Okay?” She called.
Off to Work
That night while at work, Brielle caught each pair of boots that came down the line, and inspected them for missing threads, dye discoloration, and flash. On this particular night, she only had to send about five pair to the Rework Department.
QC was a relatively easy job and Brielle didn’t have to worry about keeping up with a machine or products flying down the line at her. The quality line wasn’t so slow to be boring, but it wasn’t so fast one had to break their neck just to keep up with it. Brielle could take time to inspect a pair of boots, then wait a minute or two before the next pair of boots came up the conveyor belt. During the waits, she would often sweep the floors or wipe down the belt to keep it clean.
Sometimes, she would chat with the line operator, Alvin, who was an African American widowed older man of sixty and wise. He was nearing retirement and planned to move away to be near his sons once he retired from the boot factory. He took a liking to Brielle, not in a sexual way, but as a friend. It didn’t take long before Brielle became like the daughter he never had.
A New Friend
Alvin took Brielle under his wing and taught her the job. Brielle was a fast learner, and, within the first two weeks, had become near expert at product inspection. Alvin had developed a deep respect for Brielle because, unlike most of the other women at the factory, she didn’t screw around on the job, engage in petty gossip, brown nose to get up the ladder, nor sleep with the supervisors in exchange for special treatment and unfair promotions.
During lunch, Alvin and Brielle sat across from each other, eating their meals. Brielle nibbled on a tuna sandwich and Alvin woofed down some fried pork chops and two corn meal muffins. Alvin put his sandwich down and looked at Brielle.
“You know? A close friend of mine mentioned a white woman named Brielle that lives up the road from him.” He told her.
“Really? What’s his name.” Brielle asked, leaning forward and smiling.
“Calvin Suggs. But ere’body calls him Popeye ’cause he grows a lot of spinach in his fields.” Alvin answered.
“Popeye! Yes! I am that Brielle he speaks of!” Brielle said, “Popeye’s a great guy! So, how long have you and Popeye known each other?”
A Mutual Friend
“All our lives.” Alvin answered, “Popeye’s a good ol’ dude!”
“Yes, he is!” Brielle agreed.
“He’s been through a lot though. Lost his brother about five years ago. His brother was murdered. Then he had to put his mama in the nursing home last year because she got the dementia real bad.” Alvin said ruefully as he shook his head.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll never bring any of that up to him. I’ll let Popeye talk to me about it when the time comes that he wants to. Popeye kind of looks out for me and the kids, you know?” Brielle said in a sympathetic voice.
“He told me that. He said that you and them girls were good neighbors, and he feels responsible for all the neighbors- especially women and children. I’m twelve years older than Popeye. I remember when he was a baby. He’s like a little brother to me, always has been.” Alvin told her.
“You know? I like the fact that you and Popeye are like family. Because now, I’ve got a friend in the neighborhood and a friend at work.” Brielle said with a smile.