Elsie was seated opposite her boss, ‘Big Dog’, in his office the next day at 10am on the dot. He had beckoned for her to sit down on one of the chairs opposite him whilst he continued a conversation on his mobile phone.
The room looked and smelled expensive, with luxurious brown leather chairs, a bookshelf with leather-bound books and a large window which overlooked Abuja’s Central Business District. Elsie resisted the urge to remove her feet from her flat shoes so that she could sink them into the grey rug.
‘Yes, sorry about that, Elsie’ Big Dog said in his jovial deep voice as he dropped his phone on his desk. ‘I had to give my driver specific instructions on how to service my car’.
‘Oh. That’s alright, Sir’. Elsie still had no idea why her boss requested for this meeting, and she tried her best not to fidget in her seat. Despite wearing a blazer over her blue floral dress, she was starting to feel the chill of the airconditioner in the office.
‘Right. I’ll get straight to the point’. Big Dog cleared his throat. ‘I am fully aware of the bullying and harrassment you have endured whilst working with Bilkisu’.
Elsie opened her mouth, and Big Dog held up his hand, so she closed it right back. She actually did not know what she would have said, anyway.
Big Dog removed his glasses and rubbed his beard. ‘Don’t worry about how I found out or who told me. You’re not in any kind of trouble, okay? In fact, I’m impressed with the maturity you’ve displayed in handling the situation’.
‘Thank you Sir’, Elsie said, not knowing what else to say.
‘Have you heard of Axis Consultants?’ Elsie nodded. They were a startup company which was in the news regularly.
‘Good, good. They’re currently in the process of overhauling their activities. I met their MD last week at a conference and she asked me if I could recommend someone to be their new PR and Social Media Manager. I told her about you and she would like to discuss the job with you. Are you interested?’
Duhhh, yessssssss!!!! Elsie thought.
However, she sat up straight, cleared her throat and said, ‘Yes, Sir. I am very interested’.
Big Dog’s face lit up. ‘Good! Good!’. Their pay is comparable to what we earn in this organization. I have asked Ms. Ashione, the Axis MD, to to expect your call this morning’. He handed Elsie a business card. ‘They are looking for someone to take the position in 2 weeks’.
Elsie examined the expensive-looking business card which had ‘Axis’ emblazoned on it in black letters over a yellow background. Big Dog continued to speak. ‘I know your capabilities, so it would be a shame to lose you, but I know you will thrive over there’.
‘Thank you so much Sir!’ Elsie was no longer able to suppress her smile.
She walked out of the office moments later, resisting the urge to dance as she did so.
‘Thank God that’s been sorted out’, Big Dog mused.
He would have preferred to get rid of Bilkisu instead of Elsie. He regretted hiring Bilkisu (she was a nuisance), but his wife had harrassed him into hiring her younger sister to the point that his sanity had almost been at stake.
Big Dog stood up, smoothed down the wrinkles on his grey trousers and adjusted the sleeves on his long-sleeved white shirt as he walked to the window. He had not told his wife that Bilkisu had made a pass at him the previous year, and that her bullying of Elsie was probably a way of trying to get his attention.
Or maybe she was simply just a mean person.
Sighing heavily, he returned to his desk, put on his glasses and pressed a button on his intercom.
‘Mrs Onuorah? Please ask the Head of Human Resources to see me immediately. Thank you’.
He needed to know what his options were if he decided to fire Bilkisu at some point in the future. He put on his glasses and picked up the sheaf of papers in front of him.
He had an organization to run, after all.
‘I heard you’re leaving soon’.
It was two days after her meeting with the MD, and Elsie looked up to find Bilkisu standing in front of her desk.
‘Yes, I am’, Elsie replied. She had met with the MD of Axis Consultants for lunch the day before, who had offered Elsie the job on the spot. She had received the email with the offer of employment letter that morning. ‘I wanted everything to be confirmed before I told you in person’.
Bilkisu said nothing for a moment, as she tapped her long nails on Elsie’s desk. ‘Please make sure that you leave a detailed handing-over note before you leave. You can start working on it now’.
Actually, I’ve been working on my handing over note for almost a year, Elsie thought. It will take me only 10 minutes to review it.
Instead, she smiled and said, ‘Alright, I will start working on it now’.
Bilkisu nodded and walked into her office, her shoes making a clicking sound on the tiles, before she closed the door behind her.
Shit. Shit Shit.
Bilkisu rained silent curses on her Brother-In-Law. And on Elsie.
She had discarded her orange high heeled shoes in the middle of the office and was pacing angrily like a trapped wild animal. Her perfectly arched eyebrows where screwed up as she frowned.
What was the point of having the MD as your Brother-In-Law if he kept giving you work to do? He had reported her treatment of Elsie to his wife, her big sister, who had surprsingly taken her husband’s side.
‘Either step up your game, or you look for work elsewhere’, her sister had told her.
Bilkisu conceded that she may have taken things too far with Elsie…and maybe she should not have tried to kiss Big Dog last year at the office barbeque…but surely, none of this was her fault, she reasoned. She was the last of 4 daughters of a wealthy Senator, as a result she was overindulged and carried an air of self-entitlement. She usually got away with doing the barest-minumum of work in any given situation.
But now the Elsie-Bitch was leaving, which meant that she would have to do actual work.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
Bilkisu flung off her blazer which she wore over a multi-coloured Ankara print fitted dress. The blazer missed the chair and slid down to the floor, but she did not notice.
Why was life so unfair?
Stepping over her shoes, she walked barefoot to her desk, sat down and stared at her computer’s screen without actually seeing anything. She would go through the handing over note that the Elsie-bitch was writing…maybe that would remind her of what work she was supposed to be doing in this office.
Bilkisu reached into her top drawer, ignoring the files in front of her, and brought out a bottle of red nail polish. She began to paint her finger nails, an activity which always put her in a better mood.
Work would just have to wait.
Two weeks later, Elsie lay on her sofa wearing black shorts and a grey ‘Sesame Street’ T-shirt, reliving the going-away party her colleages had thrown for her that Friday. It was a simple but colourful affair, and she enjoyed it more because Bilkisu had taken the day off.
Tunji was out of the country for a conference in London, but he had called her to wish her good luck on her new job, which was nice.
As she thought about what life held in store for her, Elsie’s phone beeped. A message from a UK number.
‘E., I will wait for you to work for a month in your new office before I ask you out again. I hope I’m observing the right protocol. T’.
Elsie laughed, her first real laughter in weeks. She alreay knew that she would say yes when he asked, but for now, her mind was only on her new job.
©Ivie M. Eke 2017.
(Thanks for reading! I know a lot of people can relate to being in toxic work environments, which is why I decided to come up with this story. Best wishes).