He was getting there. A few months ago he would have called it 'gittin' there'. But he talked like they did now, dressed like them, and when he spoke to somebody on the phone they had no idea he was black.
He was a long way from Selma, Alabama, and the folks back home would never believe he made it in the big city.
He flashed his cuff and looked at his new Timex. 12:45. A few months ago he would have said, "Quarter t'one." Except he wouldn't have had a watch on his wrist, he would have looked up at the clock on the Ebenezer Baptist, which in his experience had always been ten minutes slow. He still had fifteen minutes of his lunch hour left and the rest of the Circulation staff didn't like it if you didn't take the whole hour for lunch.
He looked over to his right where the others sat. He could hear them laughing. It would have been nice to get up and walk over there and sit down next to somebody ... anybody ... and join in. Say something funny about supervisor Peabody, or about The American Idols show on TV last night, but if he did that the general conversation would peter out. People would begin talking to the person they were sitting next to ... and he'd feel just the way he felt now, only worse.
He was jealous of the way some of his uptown buddies were able to bull their way in. "Don't let 'em pull that Jefferson," they said. "Y'ain't pickin' cotton balls up here, Jefferson. Y'ain't workin' fer minimum neither – nobody callin' you 'boy' up here in New York." Well, they were Harlem born – Columbia Law School. They were used to shouldering their way in. He couldn't do it. Not yet.
But soon. Peabody told him only yesterday he was up for a raise – he would be salaried next month; not hourly like the entry level people. Peabody even called him "son." Imagine that! He looked over to his right again ... maybe then he would walk over there and sit with the others ... maybe then.