Normally, I’m up by 05:30 pm. The alarm is permanently set to go off at exactly 05:00 on weekdays, but I usually snooze it about six times before finally giving up the sleep at half past. Today, either I did not hear the alarm or I turned it off instead of hitting the snooze button.
I’m jolted out of sleep by the annoying sound of the KPLC token meter beeping incessantly. The front part of my head is aching mildly. Must be the wine. The empty wine bottle is on the carpet right next to the couch.
I grab my phone and find two missed calls. Fortunately, neither is from the boss. There’s an email though and I open it with anxiety. Should he need any revisions done on the presentation, there’s no time. It’s 08:28 am and the meeting is scheduled for 10:00 sharp.
“Good job Wanjiru,” it reads. A sigh of relief.
My M-PESA balance reads two hundred and sixty-two shillings. My available Fuliza limit is KES 500 – it is untouched and sitting there waiting to be spent. Quick math and the disposable sum is roughly seven fifty bob, just enough for an Uber to the office. We’ll take care of the tokens later.
I take a quick shower; one, because I’m late and two, I don’t want the tokens exhausted. I cannot bear a cold shower early this morning. Apparently, they get your brain firing on all cylinders, but no, thank you.
Rarely do I take breakfast in the morning. So, I slurp two glasses of cold water to rehydrate and fix a mug of black coffee, no sugar. I swallow a pair of Mara Moja tablets for the headache as I request the Uber. Manu, the driver of a Nissan Note, is two minutes away.
He calls immediately and I direct him to my flat. A couple of minutes later, he calls again and says he’s waiting. I grab the coffee and head out.
Everyone is gathered around the huge mahogany table in the boardroom. All the seats are occupied and a clerk had to bring in more to accommodate everyone. Such meetings are usually snubbed by many. But word went round the night before that the CEO would attend. Suddenly, plans were cancelled, audits postponed, client visits rescheduled and full quorum was attained.
The protocol here is simple: my boss, second in authority, invites everyone and thanks them for coming; he acknowledges the presence of the CEO who will obviously decline the chance to say a few words; he then calls upon me to take the floor right after a terrible attempt at a joke which does not even get a chuckle. Tough crowd.
I’m a bit tensed but I live for such moments – being on stage; the center of attention and attraction. I’d planned to wear a navy-blue suit, matching jacket and trousers, and collared white blouse underneath. The typical professional female look. But that was if the meeting was next week. I left the house in such a hurry in the morning that I didn’t have the luxury of calmly selecting what to wear. So, I’m standing in front of the heads of divisions and departments in a knee-long black skirt, white blouse and minimalist set of accessories.
I thank the boss and risk by making a joke about the full room and how much of a rarity it is. The CEO finds this funny and coincidentally, so do the rest of the guys. Kissing ass is a necessary survival trait in the corporate world.
By slide three, I realise I’ve lost half the room. It’s not as if they’re scribbling on their legal pads or on their phones but I can tell they are just here physically, but virtually absent. No one dares step out or take out their phones. The CEO is watching, remember? So, all eyes are glued either to me or to the screen.
The rear door opens, Sally sneaks two spring files to the boss who after reading the sticky note on top, handed one of them to the CEO. He uncaps his Montblanc pen and starts signing the cheques. After he’s done, the boss will hand him the other file while retrieving the first one.
“Can you go back to the previous slide please.” The CEO says. Second file in hand, halfway through the supplier cheques.
I’m surprised he was following. I’m glad and tensed still. So, is the rest of the room.
Everyone is now suddenly attentive.
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