Thursday, May 19, 2016

Half a red apple

Yesterday I cut my right eyelid in a stupid accident. I also banged my head against something very hard and had water splashed all over me by a very zealous Toyota Belta driver out to prove hata yeye anaweza! Yet those three were not the worst part of my day. Not by a long shot. All these took place before 7:30 am. But at 8:05 am precisely, my day turned to shit.

Some of you must have surmised by now that I am a loyal servant of the national Executive. It is a rewarding enough job and I have little to quibble with it. I could do with a fatter pay-cheque, but so would anyone else on a salary in this fair city of ours. I am grateful for the company of my colleagues in our five years' old open plan system (you have to meet Marion, the other Marion, Lilly, Olivia and Maureen to understand my gratitude). For the most part, my supervisors, frequently Catherine and Fred, are a joy to work with and my bosses are as un-boss-like as can be in the circumstances.

But even my boss has a boss, and my boss's boss has a bevy of PAs. I use "bevy" deliberately. Between 4:30 and and 8:05 am, all the haste, the bleeding that ensued after my head made contact with sharp-edged surfaces, not once but twice, the smelly road-splash, all of it, I suffered through because I thought that my boss's boss needed me to do it. At 8:05 am, I had a revelatory conversation with my boss's boss's PA.

From her tone and her scowl, it was clear that she was not amused. Actually, she was mad at hell. The rage was radiating from her like radioactive waves in those old Scooby-Doo Saturday morning cartoons. She accused me, for it was an accusation, of delaying with my piece of paper and she now had to do my job. I wasn't paying attention. I never pay attention when people are mad at me. My mind usually wanders when people are yelling at me and accusing me of all manner of things. So I didn't listen too keenly, except when one of her colleagues mentioned that a letter I'd been waiting on for a week was on her desk.

Soon enough she was done with the ranting and the photocopying the had been doing as my mind focussed on asparagus or something. She flounced into her office and essentially pretended that I did not exist. Now, my boss's boss has banned waiting chairs from his ante-chamber so your business is concluded swiftly. He doesn't like crowds milling about waiting for him. So I had nowhere to sit. Three minutes of looking foolish, I popped my head in her door and asked for my letter.

The clock turned to 8:05 am and all hell broke loose.
Maundu, you were supposed to bring this letter at 7:30! Why did you make me wait?! And now you think that your letter is more important. You will just have to wait.
I should have been surprised, but I wasn't. Enough colleagues with enough stories and you know your best bet is keeping your head out of the lioness's jaws. Of course I wasn't going to stand there in the middle of the ante-chamber till she calmed down. Since I didn't really need my letter to attend my meeting, I left. She probably didn't notice I was gone, focussed as she was on the very important work she was doing on Yahoo!

Hers is a sad life, I bet. For as long as I have known her or known of her, she has sat at that same desk in that same room. This is going on five years now. In that entire period, I am yet to meet anyone who has nice things to say about her. Or neutral things to say. Almost to a woman, all of them have very strong, very negative feelings for her. That can't be good. It explains why she eats lunch alone at her desk out of Tupperware. Even the secretaries on her floor get invited to the new Java across the street every now and then. Nobody invites her to drinks after work, no one wants to join the Intercontinental's gym with her. She is alone with her attitude to keep her company. Like I said, sad.

Good news, though. By 8:06, things had improved rather markedly. Olivia brought apples. My meeting's organisers called and told me where, when and what snacks they were bringing (samosas and mandazis). I spoke to The One. All in all, for sixty seconds, the day was bleargh for the both of us. But hers lasted the whole day, bile building up in her system. All it took for my day to improve was half a red apple!

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