“Excuse me, Miss,” the flight attendant leaned over the dark skinned woman bent over her lowered table. “You are going to have to put those away.”
With cell phone to her ear, Nia Armstrong looked up from her tablet. “Hmm?” It was only then that she realized that the plane was taxiing down to the end of the runway and the final preparations for take off were under way.
“Oh, yeah, sure,” she said to the flight attendant. Then addressed her assistant on the other end of the phone call, “Kris, I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you when I land, but have Accounts run through the numbers and I’ll make my decision once I see the new numbers.”
After receiving an affirmative, Nia disconnected the call, turned off her devices and stowed them away. It was a long plane trip, but as soon as she could, she would be pulling out her laptop to work on her presentation for her trip to Europe Sitting back in the leather covered seats in business class, she looked out the window as the plane began to hurl down the runway, the view of John F. Kennedy International Airport becoming a blur as the engine roared.
Sure, Nia could have chartered a plane to fly home for Grandma Cora’s funeral, but she preferred to travel commercial. It gave her the opportunity to view her customers as they were, in their natural settings as opposed to numbers and graphs. She would be sitting at the gate and watch women interact with their friends and /or family and grow her understanding of how they lived.
“It’s nice in here, isn’t it?” Nia turned to the person sitting across the aisle. An elderly woman with olive complexion, her her white hair neatly tucked away in a bun and a warm, nervous smile on her lips.
“Yes, it is,” Nia replied over the engines as the plane leapt into the gray sky.
“This is the first time I’m flying business class,” the older woman admitted. “Always passed it to go back there,” she tilted her head in the direction of Coach. “But my son insisted that I fly it when I come out to visit him.”
“That’s nice of him,” Nia said.
“He says it’s the least he could do as if it weren’t for his father and me, he wouldn’t be where he is today,” she said. Adding with a chuckle, “And trust me, it wasn’t easy, Michael was a handful, but we raised him up right and now he can cart his momma around in business class.”
Nia smiled at the obvious pride the woman had in her son. Although she was polite and attentive, she wanted to get to work The pilot had given permission to use devices and the crew were busying themselves around the cabin.
“I’m sorry, I’m Catherina Musso,” the old woman continued. “What is your name?”
Recognizing that Mrs. Musso was the talkative sort, Nia resigned herself to a conversation that may take up the whole trip from New York to Kansas.
“Nia, Nia Armstrong,” she replied.
“What do you do?” The question was expected.
“I am the founder and CEO of Nia, a beauty line for women of color.” This was Nia’s go to response. Normally, she would get one of two responses. One would be recognition of her growing brand. This came from people who have heard of the line or actual customers. The other reaction would be a polite smile, something that translated to “Oh, that’s nice.” What these people in the second camp didn’t know was her company was a million dollar company with aims of being listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
For some reason this didn’t impress many people, but it was quite an achievement. Starting out with Nanna’s recipe for makeup remover to where it is now, Nia was proud of what she had accomplished by age 35.
With a polite smile, Mrs. Musso asked the dreaded questions, “Are you married, dear?” and “Do you have any kids?” Both of which received a no from Nia.
With a knowing nod, the older woman said, “Too busy with your career, but don’t wait too long, you don’t want to end up alone in your old age. Mr. Musso and I had been together for 53 years and when he went to be with the Lord, my sons were there to make sure I was taken care of.”
Returning the woman’s smile, Nia said nothing. It wasn’t the first time she had heard this and she knew it wouldn’t be the last time during her week in Lambert, Kansas. Perhaps, it was best she got the first taste of what to expect because she was sure to hear it from her extended family, especially as she was her mother’s only child.
The prospect of being under her mother’s roof made Nia cringe inwardly. Sonya Armstrong was not going to make her daughter’s time back home an enjoyable one.