When, on my first post of the year, I resolved to avoid, as much as I could, emotional dealings with womenfolk or failing that, to not fall in love as it is dangerous seeing as Someone is bound to get hurt, the comments I got then seemed to agree that the resolution was more than a tad extreme.
Well, here I am four months later considering that resolution and wondering, just wondering, if the resolution was not too hastily conceived.
Just last week I was part of a class of my colleagues, drawn from every customer interface department, at a Customer Service Training. Not being the first of it’s kind, but part of a company wide effort to further ultimately improve the bottom line by ensuring staff deliver the best customer service experience to both internal and external customers, I had a rough idea of what to expect. I knew people who had gone before me.
When I walked into the class that morning, I thought she was one of the facilitators. She was wearing a well cut grey gown that made me look around where she sat for the accompanying jacket. The gown accentuated a form that got my attention. Her iron grey hair with streaks of black running through it made her look self contained without looking matronly. The hair and dress and her poise combined to exude an air of self assurance that comes from knowing. A knowing that comes with experience and usually being right. I took an instant liking to her and made a mental note, not for the first time, that my partner whoever she turns out to be had better keep her body in such fine shape regardless of the years, and keep her mind sharp as well.
Out of habit, I looked at her ring finger. No ring, no ring marks. For a fleeting moment, I considered if she was busy chasing her career hence the ‘no ring’, or if she was divorced or even a widow.
I promptly got her out of my mind and went round the class saying “Hi” and “Wassap” to colleagues I was familiar with. It was not until the session started that I realised she was a participant as well. As part of the opening of the session, we were asked to talk very briefly about ourselves and how we approach our jobs from a customer service perspective.
When she got up to introduce herself, I seized the opportunity to size her up properly. I tilted my head slightly left and took in her frame and figure, she was proportionately endowed. A proper look at her face showed she was actually younger than I had originally thought. And her flat stomach did not take away from her overall look. When she spoke, I saw a spring; water rushing down a rock’s surface and tumbling gently into the hollows worn into the base of the rock by years of this same action. A beautiful thing.
I did not realize I was staring until I felt an elbow jab into my side. A colleague who had been watching me simply shook her head as if to say “I don resign for your matter”.
“Steph wetin?” I asked her. “See as you jus dey look like say u never see woman before.” She replied.
“Na ya eye I take dey look?” I challenged her, “Abi she no reach to look?”
Nodding she said “She fine sha, but u never commot for one u wan enter anoda. I sorry for you o.”
When at luchtime she cornered me and said she was touched by an issue I had raised in class, I silently sent a short prayer of thanksgiving heavenward. We were so caught up in what we were talking about, people just went round us to get served. We carried on talking as we were served, and continued talking as we sat at the same table, pausing only to swallow. I could have stopped the conversation at any point to concentrate on my food, but I liked the way she sounded. I heard the words, but all I could think was “springs, brooks, gentle flowing waters.”
Back in class, Steph asked me what we talked about. “How e take concern you?” I asked. It was easier that way than to say I could not remember anything we talked about, just her voice and the passion when she talked about her job, and her now clearly obvious youth.
“She don marry?” was Ese’s next question. “Shebi na she siddon dia? Go ask am nau.”
The next morning, I could not wait to get to class. When I arrived, there was only the facilitator present. I joined him in setting the training materials up, then took my seat, eyes returning to the door each time someone came in. When she finally arrived, I was in the middle of a phone conversation. I hung up mid sentence and rose to greet her. The handshake was firm but warm.
Feeling I was coming on stronger than usual, during tea break I made sure I left the room before her without a look in her direction. I was pleasantly surprised though when she made a beeline for a seat at my table with her beverage and snack, I got up for her to slide to her seat, then promptly ignored her.
When at lunch she wound up at my table yet again, I knew this was too coincidental to be a coincidence. She was going to sit on my left, but I patted the seat on my right and said, “Here, I reserved this spot for you.” She smiled, said “Thank you” and took the seat.
After meals, Steph tackled me. “I saw that!”
“Make una see dis girl o!” was my response.
“But don’t worry, I noticed how she kept ending up at every table you sat today. Abeg which kain soap your mama take baff you when you small?” she said with a smirk.
“Abeg free me jor. Which kain dirty soap?” I asked her in mock horror. “Seriously, don’t you ever wonder about it? What do the girls see in you sef?” Laughing, I said “Oya tell me nau, shebi you sef be woman? Abeg no come uproot my transformer o. Leave me make I go back class.”
“Sha sofry sofry.” She said and then walked away.
At the end of the training, we were awarded certificates, and took group photographs. Then it was back to your tents of Israel. At least that is how it usually is. I was taking the facilitator’s contact details when I heard my name called. She smiled and waved – the first time my name had passed her lips in the two days. I jogged after her and asked “Is it alright if I took your digits?” She dictated her mobile number then said “The phone is off though, battery’s flat.”
“I will send you an sms then,” I told her.
This I did later that night.
That was a week ago, and in that time I have kept the exchange to text messages.
Listening to Taylor Swift’s “Jump then Fall” this morning made me question my hesitation. I have been known to jump in the past, and I have fallen quite a few times – even slipped a disc or two – but this time my gears seem to be locked in ‘Park’ position. So, I’m wondering if I’m ready to break that resolution and see how much womenfolk have evolved in four months.
PS: Finding new ways of hurting each other is one thing humans are very good at; I do not wish to take the chance of inflicting hurt on someone else, I do not wish to take the chance of someone inflicting hurt on me. Plus I am done with office romance.
If you read this before 12pm, and believed that last part, April Fool you then!