Even though the office almost capsized from people running helter-skelter to get things done when the news came that the CEO was coming from the headquarters, Anna remained quite calm.
She was simply glad she had a perfect office record and that she had worn her Prada shoes and her best suit to work on that Monday morning.
She was sure she would finally get her promotion today and was glad she looked smart enough. She practiced her surprise look and then her smile as she envisioned the CEO himself telling her of her promotion.
“Today’s going to be a good day” she thought and went about her daily office duties.
At about 12noon, thirty minutes after the CEO arrived, her phone rang..
It was Grace, the GM’s secretary, her voice low and hushed, like she was divulging some hot but forbidden secret, “Girl, are you sitting?”
“I don’t get it, why the question?” Anna asked, incredulous.
“Well, what I’m about to tell you will blow your mind. You can’t take this standing.”
“Out with it girl, you’re killing me here” she wondered what Gracie had to say, she always had one juicy gist or the other, but this sounded serious. “You know those series of meetings the GM has been having at the HQ? Well turned out there’s going to be a major shake up. Heads will roll”
“Dead serious girl, I just got the scoop. The big boss has been in my Oga’s office since he got in. I don’t think he’ll be chairing the ceremony though, he’s on his way out.”
Anna couldn’t believe her ears. A major shake up? What made her skin crawl wasn’t the possibility that she wouldn’t get promoted today, after all the hard work, diligence and high class bootlicking; she actually stood the chance of getting kicked out.
Damn! How would she face that meddling idiot now? Her job had been so important to her, a sort of secret weapon that sent a message of relevance, the ‘independent woman don’t depend on a soul’ syndrome. She couldn’t imagine how she would survive. So much for climbing up the executive ladder, it could all come crumbling down.
She started as her phone vibrated in her hands. She checked the caller ID, Grace!
“Oh dear, Gracie, I’m sorry. I got carried away”
“Girl, you left me hanging on the phone there. Anyway here’s the plan. I hear world is not ending today. The big boss was only here to sniff around and all, but tragedy still looms. We gat to be proactive here. Like know who’s on that list and hope that we’re not.”
“But how do we know we’re not on our way out?”
“That’s the plan. Meet me in the canteen at C.O.B”
Anna felt the phone click in her ears before she heard it. She stared at it, confused, wondering what she meant.
“Guess I’ll just have to find out”
The day couldn’t end soon enough. Gracie was a mean, smooth operator; she wondered what she had up her sleeves. But come to think of it, if there was to be a shake up, wouldn’t the weakest links be broken? She didn’t consider herself a weak link but who knows what a natural disaster might bring, an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. She had to be ready.
She felt a hand on her shoulder.
“Robert” she sighed, exasperated
“Anna, haba, are you psychic or something? How did you know…?”
“I perceived you, Robert, I didn’t see you.” she cut him off, rolling her large beady eyes in mild disgust, “Your aboki perfume made sure of that” she said wickedly.
Laughter trailed her jibe, the many joys of an open office.
Robert smiled his school boy geeky smile. Nothing ever gets to him. Either he was a perfectly good sport or he never got the joke. The latter seemed more like it.
“Anna, I know you like me, just say so” he said in his nasal, high pitched falsetto.
“You wish. Oh boy collect my file from RM for me bo! I don’t have time for your wahala today” She waved him off, weightier issues on her mind. She looked at the clock, eager, waiting.
Robert came back, sneaking up on her as usual. The geeky office assistant never lost steam. This time though, he looked more serious.
“Anna, your file is still at RM o, and you’re needed.”
“My file? Why? That shouldn’t take five minutes. Wetin happen now?”
He shrugged and pointed to the door.
She took a deep shaky breath and got up, swaying all the way to the Risk Management office. Her sassiness seems heightened whenever she was anxious or angry.
Dave was alone in the office. He smiled as he looked up from his computer.
“Anna, hi. How are you?”
She nodded curtly. She didn’t need the pleasantries. Being here was worse enough. Everyone knew you were summoned to RM a.k.a E.F.C.C when there was an issue. Money matters were always serious.
She listened as the bespectacled man reeled out figures and numbers. Bottom-line, she had twenty five thousand Naira unrequited funds.
She couldn’t believe her ears.
“I’m sorry, but I think there must be a mistake. I have a record of all my transactions. I’ll just get to my archives and we’ll sort this out.” Without waiting for a reply, she turned and left the office. She wasn’t pulling any punches. Almost down, these people want to kick her? No way.
She searched for Robert, the geek. He had cleared off. She hissed and flung open the drawer. She covered her nose with one hand as she prepared to sneeze off the dust that had gathered on those documents. How could these people come up with such a joke? Unrequited funds? Incredible. Thank goodness she always insisted on copies of each transaction, now to find those very ones.
Thirty minutes later, she was still searching. Her back hurt from sitting so much, she flung off her Prada shoes, draped her jacket over the chair and dug in further. Her heavenly white shirt was beginning to gather dust. This was not what she planned for today. Oh! Not at all.
She was totally engrossed in her search when he heard Gracie’s voice in the hallway.
Frantic, she glanced at the clock. Was it time? Oh Lord she had to find these documents or she was in for it. This will be the deal breaker even if she wasn’t up for ‘eviction’ yet.
The door opened and Grace strode in, anxious but trying not to attract undue attention.
“What are you still doing? Let’s go!” she said her voice hushed. It didn’t matter though, the office was almost empty except for Steve in the corner, earphones plugged in.
“Ha, Grace. I’m in deep mess here. Need to find some old documents to clear my name at E.F.C.C., everything is just so messed up!”
“Abeg relax. You’ll find them. You always keep a copy don’t you? If I were in your shoes,” she shook her head for emphasis, “I’ll have to pay. I’m most definitely not that tidy”
Anna sighed deeply, her hands on her hips, her hair in a disheveled state, sweat glistening on her forehead.
Grace looked at her with pity. “Relax, let’s go and do my thing first. I’ll help you when we return”
“That reminds me, what exactly do you have in mind? I mean, how can we know where we stand?”
Grace gave Steve a cursory glance. Good, he wasn’t paying attention.
“There’s a list. We’ll go through it. Hopefully we can prepare an attack if need be. Let’s go now”
Leaving the documents strewn across Anna’s desk and on the floor, they slipped out and headed to the empty canteen.
They crouched in behind the food counter and Gracie proceeded to reveal a laptop which she had hidden away. Anna yelped.
“C’mon shhh! Do you want someone to hear us?”
“Why? What if he notices his laptop is gone? Isn’t he around?”
“No he’s not. But Frank and the technicians are in his office. We’ll be done before anybody notices it’s gone. We didn’t exactly steal it anyway” she rolled her eyes and proceeded to boot.
Anna swallowed noisily. This was dangerous. If they were caught with the GM’s lappy, heaven knows what will happen to them.
She forced herself to concentrate as Grace searched in and out of files.
“Vista!” she hissed. “Always so slow. XP worked. They should have a rethink!”
“And… we shouldn’t be here…” Anna tried to say
“Found it!” Grace whispered loudly.
“Behind the counter?” a voice boomed over their heads. Anna almost fainted. Engrossed in their search, they had failed to hear Baldy’s footsteps approaching. Baldy, as he was called in certain circles, was the HR Manager.
Anna’s day ended dramatically. The next day brought on the trappings of an emergency disciplinary committee. So much for her Prada shoes and well modulated voice. Even though her name was on no list prior to that very big mishap, she was on her way out.
It was a good case of the cat that died at the hand of that famed bandit; CURIOSITY!