The weather has a dryness to it this monday morning, alerting people of incoming harmattan, which is part of the recipe for christmas in this part of the world.
I had no problem getting to work on time despite the traffic. I work in an advertising company and I’m probably the youngest at 23 in my office. That’s what happens when you leave school before you’re 21 and get a job almost immediately.
I’m settling in my office when my door opens, admitting my partner in crime at the office, Ashley. She’s scowling, obviously she’s not a fan of the weather or something happened on her way here. But then again, it’s monday, that’s enough reason to scowl.
“Hey! This weather sucks and I hate mondays.” She whines, dropping unceremoniously on the chair facing my desk.
I school my face to a smile so she’s not aware of how hard my heart galloped at that word ‘Hey’.
He’s not even here and I’m already feeling him.
“Are you okay? I’m the one whining and I’m not even frowning as hard as that.” She’s watching me closely and I bring myself back to the present. “You know how monday is…”
She’s appeased and goes back to whining. “I hope something interesting happens today, that account is giving me headache.”
I smile, “I have paracetamol.”
That makes her smile and she leaves my office telling me I’m not well in the head. That girl makes my office hours interesting.
After saying a little prayer, I begin my day’s work.
It’s lunch time and as always there’s commotion, almost as if everyone can’t wait to get out of the office. This time when my door opens, a senior colleague comes in. He’s holding a plate of food in his hand and is wearing a grin.
“Thanks for the food, Hanson.” He says, calling me by my surname.
I don’t know what to say or what’s happening but he doesn’t wait for a reply and shuts the door almost immediately as he’d entered.
I get up from my desk and move to my door just as it opens, this time two ladies bearing food comes in, their company logo on the cap they’re wearing.
“Good afternoon ma.” They greet me. I watch as they arrange the food on my desk.
“What’s going on?” I ask them, looking away from them to gaze outside my office. I’m surprised at what meets my eyes. There’s food everywhere, two other ladies are serving food and another is placing chilled drinks on a table for anyone to take. It’s like a banquet, a free for all.
What’s going on?
Few colleagues notice my open door and me standing at the entrance and they call out, hailing me, which brings everyone’s attention to me and they all begin to hail me, shouting thanks.
The office is beginning to look and sound like a park. I smile awkwardly and wave a little before closing my door.
The two women are just putting the final touches on the plating. “What’s going on?” I ask again and one of them hands me a card. A feeling of dread move through me, I can almost feel my spine tingling. Only one reason.
I don’t hear them leave or pay attention to their ‘Thank you(s) and goodbye ma’.
With shaky legs, I head to my chair and drop unceremoniously just as Ashley had done this morning.
What has he done this time!
I’m still holding the card when Ashley comes in holding a plate of food in one hand and a chicken lap in the other.
Come on in why don’t you.
Munching on the chicken, she places the plate on my desk next to the other plates of food on my desk.
“This is good chicken. Really good.” She’s shaking her head, eating with gusto.
“I know your parents are rich but girl, feeding the whole office? I like people like you. It’s even better that I’m your friend. Hey what are you holding?”
She points to the card with the chicken in her hand.
I’m still staring, not sure what to say. Finally I say the first thing that comes to my mind.
“Trouble?” She’s confused.
“I think I’m in trouble.” I elucidate.
“You didn’t pay for this meal?” She points to her plate, shock her new colour.
“No, not that. I didn’t pay for the meal or call the company that supplied it. But I think I know who did.” I add immediately to reassure her.
She’s looking at me, no more shock or funny smile.
“That’s where this card comes in.” It’s more of a statement than a question. I nod.
“Open it.” She says.
I shake my head.
“Open it.” She repeats, serious. “Okay, okay! Fine!” I open the card and true enough it’s him.
“From the look on your face, this seems private. Are you okay?” She asks, concerned.
“I’ll leave you to it, but you’ll tell me if anything happens?” She asks.
I nod, “Yes I will. Thanks.”
A smile touch her lips and she leaves my office, carrying her plate with her but not before stealing a piece of my chicken.
I laugh and shake my head.
Thank God for Ashley!
I look at the card one more time before opening it again to read what’s inside.
Lunch break. Don’t work too hard, I’ll be coming to pick you up for dinner after work today. Till then, stay well and think of me.
Ps: Make sure you eat the food. Don’t throw it away to piss me off. Jase.