I have never been good in judging the weather. Some have talents in knowing when it will rain or when the sun will shine. But not me. On this special day, I thought I was lucky enough to take my portable umbrella because the rain poured, tearing down anything that dared confront it, everything including my umbrella. I had to pair with a kind stranger till I got to the bus-stop at Barracks.
This day wasn’t supposed to begin this way. It was meant to be the day the sun shone to its peak and the road to Ikeja was traffic free because I was going to have my first major presentation and join the ‘big boys’ in Advertising. Instead of walking on sunshine, I was squashed in between a fat man with bad breath and a terrible singer whose ear phones made her think she was Celine Dion.
I tried to concentrate, zoning out my environment and mentally focusing on my Powerpoint presentation. While doing that, Witch Zara’s bleached-out face appeared in my head and she whispered; “You can’t do it”
Okay…I need to brief you on Zara so that you can understand.
Zara aka Queen B ( I call her Queen B) is the girl many girls (including me sometimes) aspire to be: Pretty as an angel and seductive as sin. She had everything put together including the right bleaching cream that made her artificial skin look natural. Please I don’t have a potty mouth but believe me, if you see her, you will understand. She and I were in the same level in Vinor Advertising but the difference was that;
a-She schooled abroad and had an accent
I schooled in University of Lagos and spoke Nigerian English
b-She speaks French, Espanol and a little bit of Italian
I speak English, Yoruba and that’s all. (clears throat)
c-She has an hour glass shape but is slim fit at the same time
I am chubby and I have tried to maintain a strict diet but I have failed 3 times now…or maybe four.
d-She is rich
I am well…just there.
I can read your mind. I know you are thinking “ well, Queen B is better than Rihanna obviously” but maybe you are wrong. The girl has tried to get me out of Vinor since I joined the company. She sleeps with my boss (that’s actually an open secret) and has tried to convince him unsuccessfully to get rid of me. The funny part is that his PA tells me everything the following day after reading his BBM messages or listening in on their conversations.
But last week, something miraculous happened. They broke up and she had cried and begged but he refused to take her back. Or so I heard. In that same period we struck a major deal with Lagos state and guess who Mr Vincent (my boss) decided to pick to pitch our PR idea? Me!!! I couldn’t believe it until I saw Queen B’s bloodshot eyes eyeing me in the cafeteria.
So that leads me to today. The day I am meant to walk on sunshine but the rain decided to spin things around a little bit. I hurriedly placed an order for a dress online and used the express shipping option to get a lovely but pricey gown. My account was bleeding by the time I was done but it was necessary. I couldn’t go in for a presentation smelling of the fat man’s bad breath and exhaust fumes.
I walked out of the elevator, into the reception and saw Queen B and her slave girl, Tope (who is the receptionist), gossiping about someone. They both hushed up when they saw me and so I assumed I was the topic.
“Ah. Abby the rain touched you? Sorry o” Tope exclaimed
“Thank you.” I turned to Queen B and offered my brightest smile. “Good morning.”
“ I actually feel for people without cars or any means of mobility in this weather. It’s a shame Vincent won’t allow you stand before anyone looking like a slob. Maybe-“
“Thank you very much for your kind words Zara. I have to go now so that I can wrap up my presentation”
I left her and her zombie and could almost feel their eyes burning into my skin. I am almost sure her red face would peel off the layers of foundation she had on. But like Kermit the Frog, ‘that was none of my business’.
The rest of the morning left me buried in my nervousness and excitement. Luckily, the online store delivered early enough and I had changed into a simple navy blue gown and also retouched my make-up. I ran over the details with Mr. Vincent and he was so proud of the amount of work and effort I had put into it. Finally, the hour came.
The State Governor’s Project Manager, Mr. Aliu Olanrewaju, was the man we had been waiting for. He reminded me of Wole Soyinka in a weird way. Maybe it was because of his full head of hair or the constant scowl on his face. Please I have never met Soyinka but this has always been my imagination of the writer. Anyway, we settled into the conference room and after light banter, we settled into business.
I would not bore you with the details but I can tell you one thing; I dazzled my audience and gave them more than a thousand reasons why Vinor Communications was the best choice for proper PR for Lagos state. My heart leaped when the Project Manager grinned from ear to ear. From time to time he tapped on his ipad and gave approving nods towards my boss who looked like Spongebob because of the excessive smiling.
The meeting came to an end and my boss whispered: “Meet me in my office in 5. Very good job Abby. Good job”. He left with the Project Manager and the rest of the team. Zara was not invited for the pitch and was out of sight which was unlike her busy body.
I went into my office feeling as light as feather and after a few minutes, I was sitting before Mr. Vincent in his sound insulated office. The room was cold but I was perspiring, waiting for the verdict. He lit his cigar, the way he did whenever he was in a good mood.
“ I started Vinor when I was a child. A child with dreams so I gave birth to my company in a childlike dream and in all my years of receiving awards and accolades, I have never seen anything like what I saw in the conference room today.”
“Thank you Sir.”
“I am proud of you and you have proved that you should head the PR team in this project. Projecting Lagos and bringing it to the fore is the governor’s dream. That pitch, in there, will make it happen.” He took a drag of the cigar and looked at it for a long time. A lot of thoughts ran through my head; I thought of my soon to be pay-cheque, how I will enroll into APCON, how life –“
“But there is a little thing you have to do for us…”
Mr. Vincent’s voice interrupted my wishful thinking.
“ What is the one thing Sir? I’d do anything to ensure this-“
“ Mr. Aliu likes you and wants to…you know…wants to have a little chat with you. He only needs you to play a little with him. If you get my drift.”
“No Sir. I don’t get you. I thought-“
“Yeah the pitch was good and nice but he needs more. He needs you. You are his spec-“
“Mr. Vincent I don’t think I can-“
“Abby think about it. This is a little sacrifice for your career and for the company. Don’t let me down.”
He pulled out a card and passed it to me. “That’s his card and would see you the day after tomorrow before he leaves Lagos for a conference in Chad.”
“Mr Vincent please I can’t –”
“You can go now Abby. I have a meeting to attend to. Have a nice day.” He turned to his laptop and squashed his cigar.
I walked out of the office and realized that the planet underneath me had moved, pulling out the rug under my feet. I wasn’t walking on sunshine. I heard the thunder roar. When it rains, it pours.