It was almost 8:00 a.m. and although I was already within the office premises, I knew I would be late because the walk from the parking lot to my office was a long one. That day, at least. And that was because I did not arrive before 7:00 a.m. like I usually do. My punishment was getting the farthest parking spot, and in these heels, I could hope to walk into my office at past 8.
I walked as fast as I could and entered the office building within ten minutes. Yes, I timed myself. If I could just get into the elevator and make it to my floor without any stops, I would be fine.
I quickly looked around the lobby as I made my way to the elevator. The receptionist in her neat clothes and tidy hair was on the phone. She waved as I floated past her. There was no one else in sight. Great!
I pushed the button and almost immediately, the doors of the elevator opened. I hopped in and pushed the button for the 10th floor. The doors began to close slowly. Just before they shut, a white hand clutching a black leather folder appeared between the doors and they pulled apart again.
Groan. Who was this person?
I hoped he or she would be getting off on the same floor. I really didn’t want any more delays.
A body clad in a clean black suit followed the hand and entered the elevator. I could smell his cologne. Or after-shave. Maybe both.
“Hi. I’m Brian,” said the stranger, almost breathlessly as he leaned against the wall. He offered me his hand as we waited for the doors to close again.
Ahn ahn! Who asked you? Why are you introducing yourself to me? I wondered as I stared at the hand extended to me.
“Hi,” I mumbled, lightly brushing his palm. Incredibly dry. He did not push any button and the doors slid shut again. Just the two of us. The elevator began to rise. The stranger turned to me again.
“So, what’s your name? Do you work here?”
No, I just ride office elevators for fun. Then I go and play “Tinko” with my friends afterwards.
I was tempted to say what I thought, but instead I said:
“It’s Bisi. Yes, I do,” and continued studying the blinking floor-by-floor indicator.
3. 4. 5. No interruptions.
“Bee Cee,” he said slowly and then laughed. The kind of laugh that makes you wonder what on earth is so amusing. I wondered.
“Sounds like Biscuit. Is that short for something? Where are you from?”
I knew I shouldn’t have answered this person. Or maybe I should have just used my English name – Anna. He couldn’t possibly mis-pronounce that one. But then again …
6. 7. 8.
“You can call me Anna,” I said, trying to be polite. I was almost at the 10th floor afterall. No need to beef this fresh-faced newbie.
“Oh no, I prefer Biscuit. So what island are you from? You’re Caribbean, aren’t you? African maybe? Who cares! You guys are the same. At least you all sound the same. Do you guys wear clothes in Africa?”
Your Fada!!! No we don’t. We just stand around all day holding hands and singing “Kum ba ya.” The nerve of this child! May thunder faya …
I was opening my mouth to say something when a bell chimed and the elevator doors swung open.
I stepped out on the 10th floor. So did Brian. But I didn’t bother turning around to look at him. I didn’t care who he had come to see either.
I entered my office and glanced at the clock. 8:13 a.m. Very late.
I had barely put away my purse when Catherine, my personal assistant knocked on my door.
“Good Morning, Ms. Adeyinka. Your 8:30 appointment is here.”
“Okay. I’m ready,” I replied and took the file she had brought in with her. I read the name on the side and smiled.
In less than a minute, there was another knock on my door.
In walked, the offensive questioner from the elevator. As soon as he saw me, his complexion took on a warmer hue. A very warm hue. Red actually. He looked like he wanted to run in the other direction.
“Brian McIntosh, I presume? I asked.
“Please take a seat. I am Bisi Adeyinka, and I will be interviewing you for the Account Executive position.”
Under the table, I crossed my legs. I smiled. I already knew who would not get the job.