YOU CANNOT BE CALLED GYPSY

The following is an actual complaint that I made with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in 2012. The complaint was for racism and discrimination.

LEGAL STATEMENT OF FACT

My name is James Alan George. I am an American Romani. My legal residence is Clyde, Texas 79510. I was employed as a Delivery Driver from March 21, 2011 to September 21, 2012 for Lowes Home Improvement Store #2719 1634 Musgrave Blvd., Abilene, Texas 79601.

1. Sometime around the first of August, 2012 I was in the Lowes I was employed at on my day off. As I entered the store I noticed the receiving manager Brian Smith speaking with an employee I had never seen in the store before by the appliance department. I assumed that the person that Mr. Smith was speaking with was our new Human Resources Manager Ben White. I approached, held out my hand and introduced myself;

        ME: Hi, My name is Jim, I am one of the Delivery Drivers, most   people call me Gypsy.

        Ben White: I’ll call you Jim, Gypsy is a racist term.

        ME: But I am a Gypsy, that’s how I got the nickname, it’s who    and what I am.

        Ben White: Oh, well we’ll have to see about that but I’ll still call   you Jim.

Mr. White then turned and walked away. Mr. Smith quipped that it was his favorite awkward moment of the year.

2. The next time I was scheduled to work Mr. White approached me as I finished clocking in and said, “I have been telling everyone not to call you Gypsy.” I asked him why he was doing that. He responded with, “because it is a racist term.” The following conversation then took place.

        ME: Ben, no it isn’t, my people refer to themselves as Gypsy, I   have carried that nickname since I was in high school.

        Ben White: It is a derogatory term.

        ME: No it isn’t, my people have called themselves that since the beginning of time. I do not mind being called Gypsy, it is who I     am.

        Ben White: I mind and I am letting people know that they should not call you that.

3. A couple of days later Mr. White approached me as I was talking with cashier Samantha Harris, and the following conversation took place;

        Ben White: How’s it going Mr. Romani?

        ME: What?”

        Ben White: How’s it going Mr. Romani?

        ME: That’s not my name.

        Ben White: Do you know how the Romani got the slang term of   their name?

        ME: What slang term?

        Ben White: You probably know. Your people don’t like that term.

        ME: Ben you know nothing about my people. They call       themselves Gypsy, they are proud to be called Gypsy.

        Ben White: No they don’t like it.

        ME: I have to go to work.

I then left and went back to the receiving area. Later that day he called me Mr. Romani twice more. Once in front of Driver Manager Larry Kimbrough and once in front of employees Mario Nabarrette and Charlie Cruz.

4. The next day Mr. White walked into the employee break room where I and other employees were discussing the Colorado shootings and James Holmes. Mr. White blurted out, “We are Texas, we execute the retarded.” He laughed at his joke but when no one else did he left.

5. Approximately one week later head cashier Nichole Tumey Strait received a call from a customer that I had been trying to contact about a delivery. Mrs. Strait paged me by saying; “Gypsy, you have a call holding on 6100. Gypsy please pick up 6100.” Mr. White came out of his office and informed Mrs. Strait that she was not to page me by the name Gypsy again. He informed her that it was racist and she could not use that term over the PA because it would offend others. The next day he told Mrs. Strait that another employee came to him offended that she had paged me by the name Gypsy. In the 16 months prior to Mr. White coming to the store no one had ever reported being offended by my nickname. During this same conversation Mr. White referred to Mrs. Strait as a “Ginger” and told her she had no soul.

6. Every Tuesday there is a Managers meeting at the store. This meeting is an opportunity for the Store Manager, the Assistant Store Manager, the Zone Managers and the Department Managers to get together discuss issues, changes and operations within the store.

I came back from my deliveries one Tuesday and was approached by several Department Managers who informed me that Human Resource Manager Ben White had just had a 2 hour discussion in the Managers meeting as to why no one in the store should call me Gypsy. Some of the managers that told me about the meeting were Daniel Whitworth, Phillip Beard, Phil Stone, Anne Taylor, Kevin Silvestri and Ed McMahan.

Mr. McMahan said that Mr. White would not come right out and say the word Gypsy. Mr. McMahan asked Mr. White who he was referring to and Mr. White kept telling Mr. McMahan that he could not say the word because it is racist. Mr. McMahan said, “Are you talking about Gypsy?” Mr. White said, “You can’t say that.” Mr. McMahan said, “Why? It’s his name. It’s what we all call him.” Mr. White said, “You can’t call him that.”

7. The day after the Managers meeting I walked into the employees break room where I discovered Mr. White talking to several employees. One of the employees said, “speak of the devil.” I asked, “What’s going on?” Employee Megan Herweck said, “Ben was just telling us why we shouldn’t call you Gypsy.” The following conversation took place;

        Ben White: The Romani do not like to be called Gypsy.

        ME: I do not know where you got that.

        Ben White: I was in the Army and it is a racist term.

        ME: In the Army it is a racist term?

        Ben White: Yes and you cannot use that name.

        ME: Ben, do you understand that my people do not mind being   called Gypsy, they are proud of the name.

        Ben White: No they not.

        ME: Ben, I have been called Gypsy since I was 16. I have used   the name publicly, privately and professionally. I have used the        name for 40 years and that is what people know me by and will        continue to call me.

        Megan Herweck: Face it Ben, this is an argument you can’t win.

        ME: Ben, I honestly do not know why you won’t let this go but    Gypsy is who I am.

        Ben White: Lowes has a policy against nicknames.

        ME: Really? You mean employees cannot call people by their      nicknames?

        Ben White: That’s right.

        ME: Ben, there are only a couple of terms that you could use on me concerning my race that would offend me and Gypsy is not        one of them.

        Ben White: It is the same as when Rappers use the N word to     describe themselves.

        ME: No it isn’t. Rappers are not the N Word. I AM the G word.

        Megan Herweck: Ben, It’s not the same.

At this point Mr. White exited the break room. One of the employees, Carra Doyle, asked me what words would offend me. I told her the term Gadjo which is Romani for anyone who is not Gypsy. I explained that for a Gypsy to refer to someone that is not Gypsy as a Gadjo is not an insult but to use that term on someone that is a Gypsy is a tremendous insult. I also explained most Romani do not like the term Gypo or Gyppy but the word Gypsy is not derogatory. I said, “The point is Ben is trying to make something bad out of something that isn’t.”

I had been trying to figure out where Mr. White was getting his info. That evening when I returned home from work I did a Google search using some of the statements that Mr. White had made. I discovered that most of his info was gleaned from message boards like straight talk.com and websites such as wikipedia.org.

8. Upon hearing what had happened in the break room employee Karen Cockrell, a part time employee, told my wife, whom Ms. Cockrell works with at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, that another employee, Ebony Nichole McGhee, might be using a nickname and not her real name. Not liking rumors I asked Miss McGhee if her real name was Ebony. She told me that it was. She also told me that she had heard the rumor and she thought it was funny. She said that she knew what Ben White had been saying about me and she thought it was ridicules.

A couple of days later Miss McGhee told me that Mr. White had called her to his office and asked her if I had asked her if Ebony was her real name. She told him that I had and that she had not minded me asking. She told him that people ask her that all the time. She then told me that Mr. White then said, “Ebony is another word for black but you are African-American.”  Miss McGhee got offended and told him, “I was not born in Africa, I was born in America, I am Black.”

9. On September 7, 2012 receiving employee Charlie Cruz asked me if I would draw a cartoon of a Dallas Cowboy molesting a Seattle Seahawk. I asked him why. He said that a lot of the guys had been talking and they wanted to tease Dave Reynolds, who is a Seattle Seahawks fan about the upcoming Cowboys / Seahawks game on September 16. Knowing that Dave Reynolds is a good sport with a sense of humor and also knowing that he would not be offended but would find it funny I agreed to do the drawing.

I brought the drawing, concealed, to work on Monday morning, September 10, 2012 and handed it over to Charlie Cruz who had asked for it. Mr. Cruz found it extremely funny and showed it to the other guys who had talked about teasing Dave Reynolds with a drawing. Several of the employees took the drawing and made copies of it as they too found it amusing. Among the employees who made copies were Charlie Cruz, Jo-Al (last name unknown) and Ed McMahan. I had not made a copy of the drawing for myself so I did, folded it and placed it in my pocket.

Approximately 30 minutes later I was walking to the front of the store and was stopped by Install sales associate Jocelyn (last name unknown). She was laughing and said that Ed McMahan had just showed her the drawing and she found it very funny. As I approached the customer service desk I saw Ed McMahan showing the drawing to one of the cashiers. Store Manager Robert Gonzales was on the far side of the desk and asked what Mr. McMahan had. I said, “Robert, I don’t think you want to see it.” Mr. Gonzales said, “Yes I do, I’d like to see it.” Ed McMahan, believing that Mr. Gonzales, who is a Dallas Cowboys fan, would find the humor in it showed the print to him. Mr. Gonzales looked at the photo copy of the cartoon and said, “Good Drawing.”

Later Charlie Cruz showed me an envelope that had Dave Reynolds name on it. He told me that he was going to put it under Dave Reynolds door to his office. He said the cartoon was inside.

I left and made my deliveries. I returned around four in the afternoon and saw Dave Reynolds. When he saw me he started laughing. He was leaning on the customer service desk and said, “Hey Crash!” (his nickname for me) He then flipped me the finger. I laughed and said, “Poor Seahawks.” Mr. Reynolds laughed and said, “We’ll see who’s riding who on Sunday.”

At this point I thought nothing else about the drawing that a friend had asked me to make to tease another friend.

10. Later in the day on September 7, 2012 my Supervisor, Driver Manager Ed McMahan came to me and said that Ben White had called him to his office. He said that Mr. White had him write a statement about the drawing I had made. Mr. McMahan took full responsibility for the drawing claiming on his statement that he had asked me to draw it. The way this was perceived by Mr. McMahan was that he had been in the group that had conceived the joke. Even though Charlie Cruz asked me to draw the cartoon it was Mr. McMahan’s idea. Mr. McMahan said that Ben White wanted to see me.

When I arrived at Mr. White’s office he asked me to fill out a statement concerning the drawing. The following is what I wrote:

“An employee asked me to draw a cartoon of a Dallas Cowboy and Seahawk. It was to poke fun at a fellow employee and friend who is a Seahawk fan. I gave it to the requesting party (who is also a friend). What became of it after that was not my business. To my knowledge no one involved was offended by the drawing.”

After I handed Mr. White my statement I turned to leave, stopped and came back. I said, “Ben, if you are going to write Ed up for showing that cartoon to people you should write me up too. It’s only right.” Mr. White’s response was, “Well, yeah, um, we’ll see.” I said, “Right is right Ben.” I then left and went back to work.

Upon hearing that an issue was being made out of the cartoon, Charlie Cruz went up to Ben White’s office and demanded to fill out a statement. Mr. Cruz told Mr. White that if Mr. McMahan and myself were going to be wrote up that he should be wrote up too. He told Mr. White that he had asked me to make the drawing and that he had been the one to make the copies.

11. On September 11, 2012 Cashier Carra Doyle, told me that Ben White had said to her that there was another Romani in the store and that they were offended by the term Gypsy and that is why he has been making sure no one calls me Gypsy. I said, “That’s bull! I have worked in this store for 18 months and if there was another Romani here I would know.” Miss Doyle said, “He is just trying to justify.” I said, “It’s strange, no one had a problem with my name until Ben came here.” Miss Doyle said, “I’ll keep calling you Gypsy and so will everyone else.”

I  decided that I would try to figure out who Ben White was referring to and ask that person if they had Romani blood. There were only two people in the store that had features that could be considered “Romani” and I decided that at my next opportunity I would speak with them.

Later that day I saw one of the people I thought Mr. White was referring to, cashier Ashley (last name unknown), who was a new hire. I asked her what her heritage was and if she had any Romani blood. She told me no that her family was from Czechoslovakia. I said, “Ah, eastern Europe, that explains your features. My family is from Germany.” I then told her the reason why I had asked. She said that she didn’t understand why “Ben” was bothered by my name.

12. On September 13, 2012 Ed McMahan came to me and said that Ben White wanted to see me in his office. He said that Mr. White had him fill out another statement. Mr. McMahan said that his second statement wasn’t any different than his first statement.

When I arrived at Mr. Whites office I asked what he wanted. He handed me a blank statement and said, “I need you to write down a description of what you drew.” I handed him back the form and said, “Ben, I have wrote everything about this I am going to write. I told you everything in the statement I wrote the other day. I do not understand why you are making such a big deal out of this. You are new here and do not understand our sense of humor. We joke with one another all the time. We are not just co-workers, we are friends. The person that the cartoon was aimed at is not offended so none of us understand why you are keeping on this.” Mr. White said, “So you are not going to write anything else?” I said, “No, I told you I have already told you everything and if you are wanting me to throw someone under the bus I am not going to do that either. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go back to work.” Mr. White then gave me permission to leave.

13. On September 16, 2012 the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Seattle Seahawks. Fair is fair so I drew a cartoon of a Seattle Seahawk hammering a football into a Dallas Cowboy’s derrière. This cartoon was intended for Dave Reynolds who I had drew the cartoon to tease the week before.

14. On September 17, 2012 I took the original cartoon to work with me but left it in the saddle bag of my motorcycle. Considering the overreaction to the cartoon the week before I figured it would be a good idea just to let Dave Reynolds know where it was so he could retrieve it at his leisure. I made a copy of the cartoon, folded it up and put it into my pocket so I could show Mr. Reynolds what I had drawn without bringing the original into the store.

When I got back to the receiving department Mr. Reynolds was waiting there for me to give me a hard time about the Seahawks Win over the Cowboys. Employees Brian Smith, Kim Delgado, Mario Nabarrette, Charlie Cruz and Ed McMahan were also there. I gave Mr. Reynolds the photo copy and said, “Fair is fair Dave so I made this drawing for you. The original is in my right saddle bag.” Mr. Reynolds said, “Probably a good idea to leave it there.” He then showed everyone present the photo copy and all had a good laugh over it.

15. Later in the day on September 17, 2012 I was returning to the store after finishing my days deliveries. I cut through the Garden Center when I reentered the store and encountered cashier Trina Cook. Ms. Cook was the other employee that I felt had features that could be mistaken for Romani. I asked Ms. Cook if she minded if I asked her what her heritage was. She said, “Latino and Italian.” She then asked me why I had wanted to know. I explained to her what Mr. White had said to cashier Carra Doyle about how there was another Romani in the store that was offended by the term “Gypsy”. The following conversation between Ms. Cook and I then took place:

        Ms. Cook: That explains it!

        ME: What are you talking about?

        Ms. Cook: A few days ago Ben came to me and said, “I have       taken care of the racist problem. If you have anymore problems    with that just come to me.”

        ME: Where did he come up with that one?

        Ms. Cook: I have no idea.

        ME: He racially profiled you and then made this scenario in his    head that he was protecting you.

        Ms. Cook: From what? I’m Latino and Italian!

        ME: I know that but he don’t. He looked at you, assumed you     were Romani and got it into his head he was protecting you from racism somehow.

        Ms. Cook: But he’s the racist!

        ME: I know that and you know that but he doesn’t know that.

Ms. Cook said that she was going to have a talk with Ben White   next time she saw him and set him straight. She said that she felt he was being ridicules.

Later I found out that after Mr. White had made his remark to Ms. Cook that Ms. Cook went to her Department Manager Phillip Beard and said (in reference to the remark), “What the F*** was that all about?” Also around this same time period Mr. White referred to Trina Cook as “Fat” in a conversation with receiving clerk Kim Delgado. Ms. Delgado reprimanded him saying, “You can’t do that.” Mr. White said, “But I’m fat!” Ms. Delgado said, “I don’t care, you can’t say that.”

16. I came into work on September 18, 2012 not feeling well. I told my Supervisor Ed McMahan that I was not feeling well and asked him if I could take off early that day after I finished my deliveries. He said that I could but just be sure that I let a Manager on Duty or Robert Gonzales know before I left as he would not be there.

When I got back to the store I found Zone Managers Steve Allen, Shawn Sanders and Tom Southard in a meeting with store Manager Robert Gonzales and HR Manager Ben White in the training room. I knocked on the door and asked to enter. Mr. Gonzales motioned me in. I told him that I was not feeling well and that I had asked Ed McMahan if I could go home and he had said yes. Mr. Gonzales asked what was wrong and I explained that my stomach was in a knot. Mr. Gonzales joked that maybe I had the same thing as Steve Allen. Mr. Allen said that he had an upset stomach all day long. I said, “Mine just feels knotted up and it is not making me feel real well.” Mr. Gonzales said, “Go on home and I hope you get to feeling better.” I said, “I have the next two days off and I am going to take it easy.” I then left the store and went home.

17. On September 21, 2012 I clocked in just as I always did and went back to receiving to meet with my Supervisor Ed McMahan and see what deliveries he had scheduled for me that day. Acting Assistant Store Manager Shawn Sanders came back to receiving and asked if he could talk to me. I said, “Sure, what’s up?” He said that I was wanted in the front office. I told him OK and headed that direction. He walked beside me but never said anything. He had a slight smirk which led me to believe that I was probably going to finally get wrote up for the drawing. I thought to myself; Finally, now we can move on.

When I got to the Store Managers office Robert Gonzales invited me to come in and have a seat. HR Manager Ben White was sitting at the back of the office. Mr. Gonzales smiled and asked how I was and I indicated that I was fine. He then flipped over a piece of paper on his desk and said, “We are here today to talk about your termination.” The following conversation then took place:

        ME: What? Why?

        Robert Gonzales:  Distribution of Offensive Material.

        ME: I didn’t distribute anything.

        Robert Gonzales: You brought that drawing into the store.

        ME: And I gave it only to the person that asked me to draw it     for him.

        Robert Gonzales: But you brought that drawing into my store     and handed out copies.

        ME: No I didn’t hand out copies.

        Robert Gonzales: You brought it into my store…

        ME: Yes, to give it to the guy that asked me to draw it for him. I didn’t distribute anything.

        Robert Gonzales: I have talked to my Managers and they agree   with this decision.

        ME: You talked to 2 managers that do not like me to make your decision? That’s fair.

(Shawn Sanders does not like me because I lodged several verbal complaints against him for his approach and the way he would talk to me when giving me an assignment. Tom Southard does not like me because I lodged a written complaint against him for lying to a customer and telling her that I did not do my job and that was the reason she was not getting her delivery. The truth was it had been he that had bumped her delivery for an unscheduled delivery)

        Robert Gonzales: There is a place there (indicating the       termination form) where you can write a comment.

        ME: So that’s it? I don’t get a write up just a termination? What about the other people involved? Are they getting terminated?

        Robert Gonzales: I won’t have that type of behavior in my store.

        ME: What behavior? It was a drawing I did for a guy that I gave to the guy that asked me for it. I did not distribute anything, I did nothing wrong. You two are new here, do you have any idea   how much of myself I have given to this company? How hard I        have worked? And now you just kick me to the curb, over a        drawing!?

        Robert Gonzales: When you finish your comment sign at the       bottom.

        I wrote my statement and then said;

        ME: You know, it’s funny, a while back I filed a written       complaint against one of your managers that did something a    lot worse than this and nothing was ever done to him.

        Robert Gonzales: We are not talking about the past we are         talking about the future and I will not have things like this in         my store. Do you have anything in your locker?

        ME: I have my knap sack in back and some stuff in my locker.

        Robert Gonzales: Ben will accompany you to get your stuff.

I then left his office with Ben White escorting me. In the store it is known as the “Walk of Shame.” When I reached receiving I recovered my knap sack and said to the employees there; “I’ll see you all again someday, maybe.” As I walked to the employees break room at the front of the store I said, “Ben, you know this is not right.” Mr. White said, “The decision wasn’t mine.” Shawn Sanders fell in to step on the other side of me smirking.

As I cleared out my locker I said again, “This isn’t right. A write up maybe but termination over something like this? I’m a good employee and a hard worker. This isn’t right!” Mr. White nor Mr. Sanders said anything. After I exited the store I called my wife at her place of employment to come pick me up. As I waited for her out in front of the store Shawn Sanders stood right inside the door. I figure that this was to keep me from reentering the store, which I had no intention of doing at that time.

As I was waiting I realized that Ben White had not given me a copy of my termination so I called the store and asked him to run a copy and bring it out. A few minutes later Mr. White came out of the store and informed me that he had called Sonia (the district HR Manager) and she had said that the Termination form was Lowes property and I could not have a copy.

After my wife picked me up and I took her back to her job  I headed down to the Texas Workforce Office. I told the lady at the front desk what had happened. She agreed with me that Ben Whites actions appeared to be racist. She gave me some phone numbers to call and suggested that I contact the Texas Department of Labor and the EEOC. She also said that I had a right to the form I had signed. She said that the company may elect not to give it to me but that I had a right to it.

When I left the Texas Workforce Office I called Ben White and told him what the lady had told me about my right to a copy of the form. I told Mr. White that I wanted a copy of the form. My signature was on it and I had a right to a copy of the form. Mr. White said he would talk to Texas Workforce. He phoned me a few minutes later and said he had talked to Texas Workforce and that they had told him that he didn’t have to give me a copy of the form and he wasn’t going to give me one. I said, “Then I guess you will have to talk to my attorney about that.” (I had at this point decided that I might need legal representation) Mr. White said, “Have a good day Jim.” Then hung up.

As I was driving home Ed McMahan phoned me and asked me to come to his home, he said he needed to talk to me. I told him I would meet him there. When Mr. McMahan arrived at his home he was crying. He kept apologizing over and over to me saying that he was sorry he had cost me my job. Mr. McMahan knows I have large medical bills from a motorcycle accident last year and that I needed my job. I kept assuring Mr. McMahan that it wasn’t his fault. I told him there was something deeper going on here. Mr. McMahan told me that he had gone to Robert Gonzales office after they walked me out of the store and asked him why I had been fired. Mr. McMahan said that Mr. Gonzales told him the same thing he had told me; Distribution of Offensive Material. Mr. McMahan told Mr. Gonzales that I did not distribute the drawing. He said that I only gave it to the person that asked for it. Mr. Gonzales said that he didn’t care, that Lowes had fed and clothed his family for 30 years and he wasn’t giving that up for anyone. Mr. McMahan said that Mr. Gonzales also said that he would go on from here and not think about it again and that he (Ed McMahan) should do the same. Mr. McMahan said, “How can I go on and pretend this didn’t happen? Gypsy is my friend, how am I suppose to face him?” Mr. Gonzales indicated that it wasn’t his problem and told Mr. McMahan he should forget about it. Mr. McMahan asked what was going to happen to him. Mr. Gonzales said, “We are having this conversation.” Mr. McMahan said, “I am not being wrote up or terminated?” Mr. Gonzales said, “We are having this conversation.” Mr. McMahan said, “But you terminated him for nothing and you are not doing anything to me.” Mr. Gonzales said, “We are having this conversation and when you leave this office there will be no more talk of this.”

Mr. McMahan also told me that word had spread through the store pretty quick and that most of the employees were upset over what they had done to me. He also told me that during a training session he had been present at Ben White had made a comment about “African Babies”. Mr. McMahan had been at the meeting but said he had not caught all that had been said. Mr. McMahan also said that during a Voice Team Meeting on September 20, 2012 that Mr. White had made some very off colored sexually related remarks about a penis

Mr. McMahan apologized to me again and I once more reassured him that it was not his fault that this had happened.

18. On September 22, 2012 I returned a Lowes Vest I had taken home to launder to the Lowes store I had been employed at. I gave it to Nichole Tumey Strait and asked her to give it to Ben White. I then asked her to recover a pair of gloves, two water bottles and an ice pack I had left in the employees break room. I purchased some weed eater line then I stopped and talked to Nichole Tumey Strait, Karen Cockrell and Cindy (last name unknown). They expressed their dismay and sympathy over my termination. I told them that I was now a customer and I had nothing to be ashamed of. I said, “I have done nothing wrong and I will not hide nor disappear.” Karen said, “Good for you.”

Since my termination I have been in Lowes #2719 to pick up supplies and paint. I have handed out to employees who are friends my card so that they may stay in touch with me. Ben White has witnessed me giving my card to some people and has called these people to his office demanding to know what is on the card I handed them. Among these people are Appliance Specialist Mellissa Tate and Head Cashier Nichole Tumey Strait.

IN CONCLUSION:

I feel like, based on the facts I have given, that I have been the victim of racism and discrimination. Until Ben White came to Lowes #2719 no one had a problem with my heritage nor my nickname. I feel like he has been on a campaign since the moment I first met him to not only prove that my name and the heritage attached to it are a bad thing but that he must also prove he is right no matter the cost to others. I believe that my termination is a direct result of Mr. White wanting to remove me from the equation so that he no longer had to prove he was right and I was wrong. The situation he used to instigate my termination could have been kept in house yet he escalated it to corporate to get the end result he desired. I find his remarks and actions to be racist and discriminatory. The sad thing is I do not think he realizes it.

As for Robert Gonzales, by his own admission he found the drawing to be “Good”. He also requested to see the drawing even after I warned him against it. Yet I am terminated on a false accusation of distribution. Why were no other employees disciplined or called to task on their usage of Lowes Company equipment to copy the drawing and pass it around? I had done the drawing on my own time at home and given the drawing to a single person who had requested it, not a group of people. I truly do not want to see anyone in trouble over such a petty thing. In my opinion there should have been no more than a verbal warning for all, myself included. Mr. Gonzales action was discriminatory and overkill to say the least and the true reason why still remains a mystery to me. However, Mr. Gonzales knew of Mr. Whites campaign against me and in many ways condoned his actions by not putting a stop to them. I believe he used the described situation as an excuse to get rid of me, the object of Ben Whites obsession. 

In my opinion Mr. Gonzales nor Mr. White have been at Lowes #2719 long enough to know the employees nor to learn what a close knit group they are. Both are recent hires at the store. Both have talked about how they want us to be one big happy family yet through their actions they are driving wedges between people they claim they wish to unite through discriminatory and racist acts and remarks.

I truly do not know why I was singled out for this type of treatment from these two individuals after being a good and reliable employee for 18 months but the mental, emotional and financial stress I and my wife have suffered over their actions is significantly damaging.

James A. George                         Monday, September 25, 2012

POST NOTE:

The EEOC found against me and in favor of Lowe’s stating; “There is no discrimination as “Gypsies” are not a race, they are a culture.

Thirty days after I was terminated HR Manager Ben White was terminated for sexual harassment of a cashier.

I no longer live in Texas and now call Kansas home.

I find it difficult to shop at Lowes.

OFF ON A NEW ADVENTURE

Yesterday Morning I finished reading “The Borrowers”. I was saddened that the adventures of the Clock Family ended where it did. Yet I was heartened by the fact that there are still 4 more books in the series for me to continue the adventure with these little people.
Today I made my way out the back door, up the drainage gutter, across the small wooden bridge and up the brick path towards the pool. Skirting the pool on the stone paver’s I finally arrived at the patio and nestled into my favorite chair. With coffee in one hand and book in the other I sat down and breathed in the cool, fresh morning air.
Taking a sip of my coffee I set the cup on the table. As the sounds of the birds, small mammals and insects that live in the thicket that surround my patio sang their sweet music into my ears I opened my book; “The Wind In The Willows” By Kenneth Graham. I read the wonderful introduction by Winnie The Pooh creator A.A. Milne which included a copy of a letter by President Theodore Roosevelt praising the book. I then turned to Chapter One to begin a grand adventure with Mole, River Rat, Badger and of course that grand adventure and irresponsible flighty Mr. Toad.
Ah what adventures await me over the next two weeks as I sip my morning brew and flip the pages. With wonderful pen and ink and watercolor illustrations by Alice In Wonderland illustrator Arthur Rackham I am sure to have a grand time with the grand denizens of the river.
This book, more so than any other I have ever read, so fully encompasses the spirit and the life of the Gypsy. Kenneth Graham may have not been Romani but the Banker turned story teller had the heart and soul of one. As Water Rat so adeptly put it, “It’s my world and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.”

-The GYPSY-
August 20, 2020
Topeka, Kansas

The GYPSY’s Blog: The Contract

THE CONTRACT

The GYPSY tattoos The Enigma during Culture Shock in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2008.

I sat in the chair in front of the enormous desk holding the contract in my hands. Across from me, hands folded in front of him, sat the man in the suit and the tie with the Windsor knot that had handed me the contract.
I had just read article 15, which stated to wit; any and all work that I did over the next 15 years belonged to the greeting card company that was wanting to hire me as an artist. I looked at the man and thought how ridiculous his blue and red striped tie looked against the dark green of his suit. His eye glasses reflected the light, he looked like a Christmas tree with a sparkling tree topper.
The date was January 5th 1976 and I had just graduated midterm from my high school. I was taking college art classes and was not really sure what direction I wanted to go in life. The one thing I was sure of and the one thing I had always been sure of ever since I was a young child was that I would be an artist. Nothing else in the world interested me more than art. To spend my life creating art was my idea of a life well spent.
I laid the contract on the man’s desk and set back in my chair. He studied me and I studied him. “Well, what do you think?” he asked. What I thought was, “How did you get my portfolio?” I suspected that I knew how he had got my portfolio. My well-meaning mother, whose dream it was for me go to work for this well-known and well-respected greeting card company had probably sent it to them. That is what I wanted to ask the living Christmas decoration sitting across from me but what I said was, “Let me get this straight, any and all work I do over the next 15 years belongs exclusively to your company. So does that mean that if I paint a mural and hang it over my fireplace that you can come into my home and take that painting?”
He stammered, “Well technically…” I cut him off, “This is a simple yes or no question yes you can, no you can’t.” The human Christmas tree shook off some loose needles, cleared its throat and said, “Well theoretically…” I cut him off with a wave of my hand as I stood up, “Well theoretically”, I said turning towards the door, “I’m going to have to think about it.” Mr. Xmas jumped to his feet. “We are really interested in signing you; the contract will be here when you are ready to sign.” He pointed at his desk indicating the stack of neatly typed papers that lay upon it.
Over the years I have thought about that contract laying on his desk and I have wondered to myself; I wonder how dusty that contract is? Because I knew when I stepped out that door and it closed behind me that I would never be back.
I was 19 years old at the time and as I rode down in the glass enshrouded elevator all I could think to myself was if I had signed that contract I would be an old man of 34 years old by the time it expired. Now there are some people that would say I was crazy for not signing on with the greeting card company, I mean after all with the progressive salary raises that the contract offered by the time it expired in 1989 I would be pulling down $50,000 a year, not to mention accumulated bonus’, benefits and a fat pension package. At that time that was a chunk of cash, even in this day and age it is nothing to sneeze at, yet to me it wasn’t enough to sign my soul away. There is never enough money for that.
As I walked out of the large center that held the offices that I would never be returning to the chill wind sent a shiver up my spine. I stood and let the sunshine try to warm my face as I wondered; is it the wind that makes me cold or is it the thought of what I just turned down that leaves me chilled. There was one thing I knew for sure I wasn’t in a big hurry to return home. My mother’s dream for me had always been for me to go to work for that particular card company but it wasn’t my dream. No I would have to return home and tell my mother that her hopes, plans and aspirations for me were not the hopes, plans and aspirations I had for myself.
As I drove down Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri I looked to my right and my left for some distraction, for something that would allow me to kill some time so that I could delay the inevitable scene that would occur when I told my mother what I had decided. That is when I saw it, the tattoo parlor, I turned the corner and pulled into the parking lot behind the building.
I had never been inside a tattoo parlor, the thought of going into a tattoo parlor had never even crossed my mind let alone the thought of getting a tattoo. On this day my only thought was; let’s go in and check this out and see if it’s just like it is on TV and in the movies. Besides I was looking for a way to kill time and this was as good a way as any.
As I walked into the building the smell of alcohol, soap and cigarette smoke assailed my nostrils. The walls were filled with a mirade of cartoonish looking designs on large cardboard sheets; I would later learn that these were called “Flash”. The only sound inside the building was the music playing from an old radio up on a shelf and ithe nsisted buzzing of the tattoo gun.
In this time and place the terms “parlor” and “gun” were appropriate; that would not be the case in the future when those terms would become archaic and be replaced with studio and machine. But the tattooist who sat behind the counter in this “parlor” tattooing the arm of a man with his “gun” was not only appropriate but descriptive of the atmosphere of this place and the individual whose imposing presence ruled this domain.
I swallowed hard, cleared my throat and then in a voice meeker than I had intended said, “Excuse me sir, do you mind if I watch you work?” Without looking up from the bicep that he was tattooing a peacock onto the tattooist barked out, “Yeah, but don’t talk to me.”
I will not bore you with the details of my long time standing there watching this man tattoo. To go into detail about what he tattooed that day who he tattoo that day and where those tattoos were placed on the numerous bodies that walked in and out of his shop would do nothing but put you to sleep and cause you to stop reading this narrative. What is important to note was that 14 hours after I had first asked Gene if I could watch him and he locked those doors to his parlor for the day I was still there.
“So”, he asked as he locked the door, “when are you going to start learning how to tattoo?” I laughed, “What makes you think I want to learn how to tattoo?” Gene eyed me up and down and shook his head. “Boy let me tell you something I have been tattooing for twenty eight years, I am third generation, my daddy tattooed before me and his daddy before him. Nobody, and I mean nobody stands for 14 hours straight with their mouth closed watching me work that doesn’t want to learn.”
I was a 19 year old kid who thought he had all the answers, who believed that no one knew what was going on in this whole wide world any better than he did. I looked at Gene smirked and said, “I’ll have to think about it.”
“Yeah right”, he said, “I’ll see you in the morning.”
The drive home between Kansas City and St Joe that morning seem to take longer than usual. My mind was working overtime weighing, balancing, determining, and desperately trying to see into my murky, crowded and unknown future.
Around 4 a.m. I walked in the door of the apartment that I shared with my mother and sister. My mother sat on the couch waiting for me a stack of magazines and newspapers next to her. She jumped up as I entered the apartment and almost, no doubt in her excitement, screamed, “Where have you been? Where have you been? What did they say? When do you start work for them?”
I took off my coat and dropped it over the back of the chair by my mom’s priced piano. I turned around and faced her; you could not miss the look of excited anticipation on her face. I cleared my throat and said, “I’m not going to work for them.” The look of excitement left my mother’s face and was instantly replaced by a look of confusion. “What do you mean you’re not going to work for them? If you don’t go to work for the greeting card company what on earth are you going to do?” Mustering up as much of my manly nineteen-year-old fortitude as I possibly could I looked my mother dead in the eye and said, “I’m going to be a tattoo artist.” She promptly screamed and fainted.
My grandmother took it a little better then my mother did. When I phoned her to give her the news and I told her what I had decided. There was a slight pause on the other end of the line, I heard her exhale and then she asked, “Will it make you happy?” I said, “Yes ma’am it will.” My grandmother said, “Well then that is all that matters.”
In my 40 year career I have had many milestones, many accomplishments and many let downs. I have always chosen to not dwell up on the downside of my career but rather on the upside and what I have been able to give back to a profession that has given so much to me.
I have three associates degrees; forestry / wildlife management, technical illustration / mechanical drafting and psychiatric technician.
I have had the first tattoo studios in St Joseph Missouri, Abilene Texas, Midland Texas, San Angelo Texas, Baxter Springs, Kansas, Iola Kansas and Independence, Kansas. I also had the first legally registered tattoo studio in the state of Oklahoma and from 1995 – 2010 I was the officially recognized tattoo authority for the Osage Nation.
I was the first person in the state of Kansas to actually go to school to learn how to pierce and learn how to do microdermal implantation, what is commonly referred to as cosmetic tattooing.
At one time it was believed that you couldn’t tattoo over scars. In 1977 I was allowed the opportunity to practice scar cover up on a gentleman that had been burnt over three quarters of his body. I spent a year working on his arm and taking notes. I developed a procedure that worked for covering up his heavy scar tissue with tattoos and I wrote a paper on it in 1978. Tattoo artists that cover up scar tissue today may not know where the technique came from that they have learned to do but that’s okay. Because it gives me satisfaction to know how many people have been helped because of work I did in 1977 and 1978. Recently I heard of a tattoo artist in Ohio who is donating their time to cover the scars of victims of severe trauma. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to hear of other people in my profession giving back with something that I helped develop.
I promoted, organized and sponsored the very first ever tattoo convention in Kansas which ran from 1993 – 1997.
I have been a senior zookeeper, a soldier, a photographer, a truck driver, a bar owner and a school bus driver. I have driven ice cream vans, been an art teacher, actor and common laborer.
Together with my wife I founded Artist Alley and American Ghost Riders (a paranormal research group). I am an artist, an author, an illustrator, and a psychic.
I ran for the Kansas State House of Representatives in 2006 and I am the creator and executive director of Topcon Geek Expo.
I have donated of my time, my energies, my talents and my self to numerous civic and charitable causes. I was the Chairman of the Baxter Springs Joint Historic and Beautification Committee. I have sat on the board of Directors of the Baxter Springs Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Kansas Tourism Region and 4 State Tattoo Association. I was an Explorer Scout Adviser and a Children’s Art Teacher. And through all these things I have done and been I continued my Body Art career practicing my love of Tattooing and Piercing.
In 2008 I became one of only 27 people worldwide that had taken and passed the Alliance of Professional Tattooist Tattoo Mastery test.
In 2009 I was appointment to the Kansas Board of Cosmetology, by Governor Mark Brown, as the representative for the body art industry in the state of Kansas.
I have one of the first websites ever on the Internet dedicated to tattooing and piercing I have owned the www.ubtat2d.com domain since 1994. I am a resident expert on body art on www.allexperts.com and I have written numerous articles about tattooing and piercing as well as doing the lecture circuit disgussing body art safety and ethics.
From 1988 through 2010 I owned several different state of the art mobile facilities and worked the show and event circuit during the summer months. Arizona to Kansas to Oklahoma to Missouri to Ohio I traveled, I tattooed, I pierced. South Dakota to Arkansas to New Hampshire to Iowa to Texas I did the miles and I did the art. Pennsylvania to South Carolina to Nebraska to Wyoming to New Mexico I left no road untraveled and no client unmarked.
I have given countless television and radio interviews as well as appearing and starring in movies and television documentaries about tattooing, piercing and the paranormal. I even share top billing in a movie with Peter Fonda, Jim Dandy, Greg Alman, Willie Davidson, Slaughter and Paul Revere.
I have won numerous awards and accolades for the tattoo art I create both nationally and internationally.
I have artwork in the Smithsonian institution as well as in museums in Kansas and elsewhere in the United States. I am even part of an exhibit about American art that is featured in a traveling Museum in Australia.
My art and the career that I chose to follow have put food on my family’s table, clothes on my children’s back and a roof over my family’s head.
I am an old school tattoo artist and proud of that fact; I make no apologies to anyone for the art I create nor the style of that art. I do not compare my work to others and I do not appreciate it when others compare their work to mine.
All artists no matter what medium they work in have their style. You cannot compare Van Gogh to Renoir, you cannot compare Michelangelo to Rodan and you can not compare Sailor Jerry to The Gypsy. All have their styles, all have their niche and all have they’re separate following. The type of art I like is not the type of art that another person may like and vice a versa.
I have been practicing my tattoo art 40 years now and truthfully I am tired. It is not that I am tired of tattooing because I’m not. It’s not that I am tired of creating art because I am NOT. What I am tired of is ignorance; ignorance that comes from rudeness and the rudeness that comes from disrespect.
For 40 years I have dealt with the truly ignorant, the truly Rude, the truly disrespectful and and with the widespread popularity of social networking the trolls have become even more ignorant, rude and disrespectful and I am just tired of it.
It is an unfortunate statement on our society that you cannot educate those who refuse to be educated. I know, I have tried to educate people but while some learn others close their eyes, they close their ears, and they close their minds. Those are barriers that you just cannot pass through and I am done trying.
That is why I have decided to pass on the torch to younger and more enthusiastic members of the body art community.
In the near future I will be retiring from body art. I will go back to where it all started; I will lay down my tattoo machine and pick up a paintbrush and my art will have come full circle. So it is with life everything comes full circle and there is no beginning and there is no end.
In my career I have apprenticed 18 people; out of those 18 people 2 proved their worth. It is to those two that I will leave my legacy my hopes and my dreams to. My final chapter will never be wrote because within all those I have taught, touched and loved in my life and in my career my story will continue.
They will take all that they have learned from me and they will expand it, they will improve upon it and pass it on to those who want ti learn and will further expand on and improve the world of Body Art just like I did with what I learned. I will live on from generation to generation and the ethics and passion I contributed to Tattooing and Piercing will live on also. Because just as I drank from the spring that formed me so too did they drink from the spring that formed them and those who come after them will drink from their spring.
So when that day comes that I do announce my retirement do not mourn for what has ended rather rejoice with me in what has begun. Because baby you ain’t seen nothing yet.

-The GYPSY: Master Tattoo Artist-

#RubberBiskit

The GYPSY’s Blog: Do You Know Me?

DO YOU KNOW ME?

Do you know me? The truth of the matter is no you do not. Unless we have personally shared wine, food and song together I am nothing more than a faceless entity typing words on an electronic keyboard. I can be whoever I want to be or whoever I want you to believe me to be. I can tell you anything I want and if I am good enough with the story you just might have enough faith in me to trust that I am telling you the truth.It is so easy to manipulate, lead and make others believe what you want them to believe. I can be real or I can be fake. For instance I got the following message yesterday:

FROM DUCKY DON:

Gypsy my friend, I cannot take it any longer, the guilt is eating me up. As my Presidency nears it’s end I have to cleanse my soul. It has all been a lie, a terrible, terrible lie. My son Don Jr., son-in-law Jared and friend Vladimir did help me steal the election from Hillary Clinton. I knew a Russia was going to interfere in advance. I agreed to deregulate numerous companies so that my buddies could make more money at the American peoples expense. I knew that there was no good reason to try a destroy Obama Care I just couldn’t stand for Kenya Boy to have his name on something that helped people get affordable health care. And I let the Tax Reform vote happen so that I could give my banking buddies a financial boost before I left office. I am so very, very sorry. I have asked God to forgive me and I hope you can too.

Your Friend Donald 

Does that mean that is real? Of course not it is no more real than this message I received the same day:

FROM JERRY JERKY

Gypsy I am so glad that I am a Giants fan. I know that they are Super Bowl bound and will win for sure. Cowboys Suck! Go Giants!

Your Friend Jerry Jones

These messages must of come from Donald Trump and Jerry Jones because they signed them right? Wrong! I was able with just a few key strokes and a little cut and paste to create two messages that for all practical purposes look legit but in reality are as bogus as they come. Just because I created the messages myself, that did not make them real. The name’s match but again that does not make them real messages.

So much misinformation travels around Social Media and the Internet it is often hard to tell what is real and fake. Sometimes we get so carried away in our convictions that we put ourselves into a potentially unwanted legal complication.

I asked two questions in a blog that was posted on another site about slander and liable and neither question was answered. Of course I didn’t need them answered because I already knew the answer. The questions were:

Did not your Attorney advise you against discussing this case outside of the court room? Did not your Attorney inform you that counter suits can be filed against you?

In a pending litigation your attorney does not want you discussing the case outside of the courtroom. The court frowns on it and whatever you discussed outside of litigation can be used against you and jeopardize the pending action. Also, if you at any point retaliated directly or in directly either verbally and through individual action a counter suit can be filed. Liable and Slander are the hardest cases to negotiate, litigate and win.

Most attorney’s shy away from them because of the two way communication that has already transpired. In order for a slander and/or liable case to have any validity at all one party has to 100% guilt free and without ever having responded in any way, shape or form.

Sometimes people will say that they have recordings of certain conversations that can be used against another person. But unless you are an agent of the Government or a Law Enforcement Agency any recording that you may have is inadmissible in a court of law. As a private individual, before you can legally record a conversation, you are required by law to inform the person that you are recording.

Case in point, when you phone a utility company to establish service they will often do a voice authorization over the phone. They inform you that the conversation will be recorded and they ask if you understand. Most corporations start out their telephone communications with this announcement: “This conversation may be recorded for training purposes.” The conversation is always recorded and that is considered due notice. So unless you have informed the other party you are recording anything you may have cannot be used in a court of law.

Too many times we are ready to jump on the band wagon and beat the drum just because something sounds right, or because we hate a person, or even like a person. Maybe our lives, at that particular time, are boring and a little drama sounds like a whole lot of fun but that whole lot of fun can cause a whole lot of hurt if there is no truth in the allegations. And the truth is we really don’t know, in this cyber world, what is truth and what is reality. We always hear talk about “Fake News” and we hate those who propagate it but news is not the only thing that can be faked. As I showed you messages can be faked too but so can so many other things.

I am a Tattoo Artist! Or am I? Maybe I just copied someone else’s tattoo’s into my profile on Facebook. I am an Artist! Or am I? Maybe I just copied someone else’s art off the Internet and claimed it was mine. Maybe the painting I posted in Tier 5 on my rewards page is in reality one that I got at a flea market. I own a Harley! Or do I? Maybe those are photos on my Facebook Profile of my deceased brother on his bike and I am claiming they are me.

Maybe I am all of you and I am none of you. I am whomever I want you to believe I am today. Tomorrow I may be someone else. I will tell you what you want to hear and I will manipulate you so that you think like I do, have the same belief’s I do, hate who I do and like who I do. I will be anything you want me to be or I will be anything you want others to think I am. I am a piece of clay with a keyboard and I take what ever shape suits my purpose at the moment. Until you meet me face to face you don’t know me and I don’t know you. You will only believe of me what I allow you to believe and I will only believe of you what you allow me to believe.

I for one will not participate nor be party to any witch hunt against any person no matter who that person may be. I have had my disagreements with people on social media but that is what they are, disagreements. You can agree or disagree with me and my opinions of others just like you can agree or disagree with their opinion of me. But the one thing that I will always do, no matter who it may be, is speak out if I think they have been treated unfairly. Everyone that has ever condemned another on social media has mostly done so based on flimsy, hearsay evidence.

There is an old expression; “I’m from Missouri Show Me.” Well I lived in Missouri for over 10 years of my life so “Show Me”! But unless you can show me something other than the type of evidence I can easily manufacture myself, as I have already proven I can do, then don’t expect me to jump on the band wagon with you. I would rather hear the sound of my pipes as I thunder down the highway than listen to the same old tired tune beat to death on the skin of broken drum head.

-The GYPSY-

#RubberBiskit