Handling the Harold’s account had been challenging to say the least. How challenging it was, had nothing to do with the fact that the Harold’s Group was acquiring an upstart from Silicon Valley that was suddenly a threat to their already massive market share.
It also had nothing to do with the fact that Robert and Associates would be making a Queen’s ransom as compared with their earnings on the account in the two years they started doing business with us. Us …I like the sound of that.
The challenge was the weight of the account and the unspoken burden of being the new girl that has to impress on all accounts; as a newbie and as woman.
“Oyinade, we have a debriefing meeting with the clients in New York City on Monday”
“…and you’ll be coming with me and Justin. Make sure to give Angela your details so that she can handle the reservations.”
Ok, that last part caught me off guard It was normal for partners to request that their associates come on debriefing trips with them, but generally it didn’t happen until the 6th month of employment. I figured I was doing something right for me to have been included in this trip.
Gingerly, I packed my bags, 2 business suits, some shirts, my briefcase – and at the last minute I threw in an evening gown and some heels.
We arrived at the airport and checked in. The party was larger than I thought. There was Akin, Erica, Justin and Femi. I was a little bit nervous being part of this smaller team. For one, I could have been the only girl in the group as Erica was comfortable hanging with the boys. Also, this would be my first time working with Femi.
Akin, Erica and Justin found a bar and were all nursing beers. I excused myself to go in search of Coffee. An Early morning coffees was right up my alley, I muttered. Femi excused himself to come with me. The short walk to the Starbucks was a little bit awkward, but no sooner had we gotten our lattes than we heard the overhead page:
“May I have your attention please, this is the final boarding call for Delta airlines Flight 606 with service to New York”
The page repeated over the overhead was all the icebreaker we needed as Femi and I scurried to get to our gate. Femi grabbed my carry on suitcase, and flight pillow as we made our way through the maze of travellers to Gate B22. We barely made it on time as we were the last to board before the gates closed.
Roberts and Associates sure took care of their own, as I realized we were flying first class. Everyone else was seated and we needed no directions to take our seats in the last two seats in row 3A and 3B. No sooner had we settled in before the Captain’s voice echoed through the craft.
“Cabin crew, prepare for take off”
My brain interpreted it as “Oyinade, prepare for sleep off”.
Take-offs made me extremely nervous, especially the ascension part of take off where the plane was at a 45 degree angle to the ground, and I in turn made it a point of duty to be asleep by that time.
“Hey” I muttered sleepily
“You look beautiful when you’re asleep”
“And ugly when I’m awake?” I countered
“Just as beautiful, but when you’re asleep you look calmer and …more approachable…vulnerable even”.
My eyebrows instantly raised up.
“What do you mean?”
“Déjà vu huh?”
Femi proceeded to tell me of how I grabbed his hand in fear every time the plane ran into turbulence and how he had to rub my back so I could fall asleep again. Only then did I notice my current state.
As far as the seatbelt could allow, I was almost halfway in his lap. My head was nestled against his neck, and there was a blanket covering me that I didn’t remember being there before I fell asleep.
“I mean, doesn’t this remind you of the first time we met?”
“Yeah, ….uhmm…no actually, please refresh my memory”
He laughed good naturedly “my apologies ma’am”
The smile that crossed Femi’s face was all I needed to know that this was not my first time in his arms.
“How about we start all over..”
“Don’t you have a file on me somewhere in your office?”
“On the contrary, sorry to disappoint you” he quipped, “It’s not everyday I have pretty women jumping into my arms”
We talked about everything and nothing on the two hour trip to New York.