The weekend was short, what did you expect? I had ample cash on me for the first time in a very long time, and I didn’t have a worry in the world, so yes, the universe would indeed conspire to make the weekend short, so as to quickly ruin my short-lived moment in the sun. I, however, refused to let anything ruin my good time, because I ate like a pig, and drank like a fish, and oh, I also slept like a baby.
Monday came, and I was at Gbenga’s office before 8am, and I must say I was fired up, ready to take my destiny in my own hands, ready to make the best use of this opportunity that was about to be presented to me on a platter of gold.
It took me a while to locate the office, I was sure I got the address right; I was staring at number 15. But I wasn’t really sure if that was the number 15 I wanted, because in my mind’s eye, and from what I had seen from Gbenga, I expected to see a glass house, a crisp environment, you know the sort of offices you see in foreign movies. After going back and forth for a while, I decided to knock on the narrow pedestrian gate, because whatever lay behind that gate held the beginning of a new life for me, and I’ll be dammed if I was going to allow my indecision ruin it for me.
I knocked on the gate and stepped back, half expecting a scruffy looking individual to open up for me, but to my surprise, a very well dressed security personnel opened the gate, and in addition greeted me with a warm smile, this caught me off guard, but I was quick to recover, and I stated my business, he smiled at me once again, and informed me I was being expected, and with that, he ushered me in.
The security guard led me through a narrow corridor, and at the end of the corridor, into a large plot that housed an edifice, and yes I finally found the glass building I always saw in foreign movies. I quickly pretend to stroke my beard, but in reality, I was only keeping my jaw from dropping to the ground, and I thought to myself, if this building was this elaborate on the outside, I wonder what lay waiting for me on the inside.
We got to a door marked RECEPTION and the security personnel asked me to go in, all this while he had the smile on his face. He opened the door and I walked in, and almost immediately he disappeared after closing the door.
A slight chill enveloped me as I walked in, the reception area was more furnished than my entire apartment, and the air-conditioning was just crazy, the kind that made you feel like you were in a morgue. It made me wish I had put on a jacket or something, but I composed myself and walked towards the receptionist, she was a lovely looking lady, and if she were a nurse, I am pretty sure she would have natural healing powers! She had an earpiece on, and was having a phone conversation, all the while with a smile on her face that could melt butter, even without trying. As I approached, she looked up, smiled at me and gestured for me to come forward, while she still spoke on the phone, and again all the while, without the smile leaving her lips. What was it with smiling in this place, was it in the company handbook, or was there a department with hidden cameras that monitored their smile levels, whatever it was though was fantastic, and I liked it.
I stood before her for just some minutes, when she finally said good morning, I didn’t respond at first because I wasn’t sure she was talking to me, but when I saw she waited for my reply, I responded, and also gave my best smile. “My name is Tony, and I am here to see Mr Gbenga”. “Oh yes”, she replied me with another beaming smile. “He is expecting you, just go right in, walk down the corridor, the last door on your right, it’s the office with BRANCH MANAGER on it”, and as she gave me directions, she was already on a call with Gbenga. Well, I assumed it was Gbenga.
As I walked through the corridor, I went past a door or two, and also passed some open offices, it was a long corridor, and I saw people doing various things, and they all had a smile on their faces, and some even smiled and waved casually as I walked by. This was indeed a surreal experience, because for all the interviews I attended, I never got any smile from anybody, so I had come to expect a certain form of indifference from office folk, but this was a totally different experience, and I liked it.
I got to the door I was looking for and tapped on it lightly. “Come in”, I heard a familiar voice say from inside, and as I opened the door, my mind was blown once again. I saw Gbenga sitting behind a large desk, a large plasma TV hung on the wall in the corner, a mini bar stood in another corner, and God the air-conditioning was just out of this world, and the funniest part was that I couldn’t see an AC unit, and so I guessed they had a central cooling system, and to me this was so cool, pun intended.
Gbenga was on a call as I walked in, so he gestured for me to sit down, I looked around the office, I saw a couch which was close to the plasma TV, and also saw two comfortable looking chairs right in front of him, the familiarity in me wanted to just chill out on the couch, since it was Gbenga’s office, but the candidate in me led me calmly to the more official looking chairs, after all who knew if it was a test, so I sat in front of him, and smiled.
“Did you have some sugar this morning?” Gbenga asked me with a weird look, the question confused me a bit, and I shook my head slowly. “So what’s with the smile?” Gbenga continued, and then I understood what he meant, it was a heckle we used back in our school days. Everybody has been smiling at me ever since I got here, I explained and I guessed I had been infected with whatever virus was responsible for the smiles. His loud laughter startled me at first; mostly because I didn’t think what I said was really that funny, but hey I decided to join in because I was determined not to offend.
Gbenga immediately got out from behind his desk, picked up a cell phone, or at least, what I thought was a cell phone, and gestured for me to follow him, which I did like a lamb who didn’t know any better. He took me through the same corridor I had come through earlier, but this time instead of heading towards the receptionist, we took a left turn, through a door which was labeled PERSONNEL ONLY, and that gave me hope, if he allowed me into the personnel area, it means I was almost part of the personnel. We walked through a short corridor, and into a massive production line, and I wondered how the building was designed, because we didn’t go up any stairs, neither did we go down any stairs, it was just a straight walk, almost as if we walked into a building next door, Gbenga took me through the whole production line, and I was quiet all through, amazed and blown away.
I began to realize this was nothing more than a bakery/flour processing plant, but the equipment and style of work, made me wonder how lucrative the business was, that afforded them such a state-of-art set up.
Gbenga led me towards another door at the end of the production line, into another set of offices, and to a door labeled PRODUCTION MANAGER. He opened the door, and ushered me in. The office was neat, everything was brand new, and the central cooling was just as it was in all other parts of the building. It wasn’t as big as Gbenga’s office, but it was big enough, and I guessed I would be working for whomever owned this office. I proceeded to sit on a visitor’s chair, when Gbenga extended his hand and said “Congratulations”, my heart began racing, and I stood staring at him with a dry mouth, I extended my hand also in a zombie like manner. “You are now our new production manager, someone from HR will be with you shortly to ensure you have all the necessary documentation”. Gbenga said this all very casually, and with that he turned around and was about heading out the door. I quickly held his shoulder, I was shaking, I was confused, he noticed this and asked me to sit down and catch my breath. We both sat.
Take it all in Tony, welcome to the first day of the rest of your life, and I know you can handle this task, because I trust you, Gbenga said looking straight into my eyes, and all I could say was: “I won’t let you down bro, I promise”.
Gbenga stood up, adjusted his shirt and asked if I had any questions, and all I asked was: “So you are a Baker?” He smiled at me and replied: “No Tony, I am not a Baker, I work for the Baker”, and with that he walked out of the office; sorry I mean my office and closed the door.
TO BE CONTINUED……………………..
Written By Arome Ameh(The Priest)
Arome Ameh is a former Banker turned Screen Writer/Producer/Blogger. He has written/produced both True Life/Fictional Stories/documentaries Via his blog www.ameharome.WordPress.com and on TV/Youtube.