by Omonike Odi
“…my client has a reputation for being a difficult person, not to mention he’s a womaniser.”
I was running late! If only I had prepared my presentation days before, I would not have had to stay awake till three in the morning working on my slides and then I would not have woken up at half past seven!
I sprang out of bed and jumped into the bathroom when I saw the time. I had only a few minutes to get ready, so I rummaged in my closet and threw on a knee-length dress. A jacket would have completed the look but I didn’t have the time to search for one so I grabbed my hand bag and laptop bag instead and slung them on opposite shoulders. With a folder in one hand and my shoes in the other, I dashed out the door. I hadn’t bothered with makeup and I knew my hair could use a brush, but I would do those in the taxi. At the main road, I noticed a tall man also waiting for a cab.
I was in such a hurry that as a cab arrived, I tried to get ahead of him but my bags slowed me down as I struggled endlessly to keep them all in place, so he went in through one of the back doors and they began to leave. I glared at him in annoyance and let out a hiss as I watched them go. Suddenly, it felt like they heard me, the taxi screeched to a stop and reversed until it stopped in front of me. The windows came down.
“I am heading to Zone 6, can I drop you off somewhere” the man in the owner’s corner asked.
I felt the muscles on my face relax with relief; it was only fair that he shared the ride since we had both been waiting by the roadside. I also reasoned that it might be a while before anything else came along, besides I was going to Zone 5 which was along his route anyway.
“I can drop off at zone 5” I said.
He nodded and I got in. I muttered: “thank you” from the corner of my mouth and began wondering what my good Samaritan would think of it if I groomed myself there but it would be worse showing up at work looking like I had a hangover on this important day, so I cast off restraint especially after I thought of the possibility of ever seeing him again.
“My name is Ikenna, what’s yours?” I ignored his gaze and pulled off my flip-flops, replacing them with shoes one foot at a time.
“I am Susan”, I lied. I didn’t intend to encourage him. Just because he was sharing his taxi with me did not mean I had to be nice. “Do you live around here” he inquired. I busied myself with the bag on my lap while biting back what I wanted to say. Couldn’t he see I was on the edge? I certainly was in no mood for small talk. I fished for a comb in my bag and started to brush my hair briskly. On the sixth stroke, I extended my hand too far and hit his face.
“Aww” he grimaced. The driver looked at Ikenna and me through his rear view mirror. Ikenna was holding his face. “I’m sorry; did I hit your eye?” I asked with concern. He looked at me and I could see his left eye had started to water. “No, you didn’t”. He didn’t sound upset but I felt guilty.
“I live on the street where we took the taxi” I offered, attempting to start over. He only nodded. I tried again when he didn’t say more. “Erm, so are you late for work too like me”.
“Yes but my car broke down on your street. Once I get to work I’ll send my mechanic back to get it.”
“Oh oh” I sympathized. He was silent again.
“I have this presentation to make at 8:45am and my client has a reputation for being a difficult person, not to mention he’s a womaniser.” I said too much before I caught myself. He noticed my remorse and laughed. I joined him. Then he asked to see the results of my preening and told me I had a red smudge on my nose which he attacked with a white handkerchief from his breast pocket.
He finally dropped me at my office premises and without another minute to spare, I rushed into the office amid stares of disapproval and quickly assembled my team. I was giving the presentation at a large telecommunications company and I had heard that if the Head of marketing at the company didn’t like my pitch, we were out the door.
From my office, we drove through traffic to the telecommunications company located in Zone 6. We were received by a nice receptionist who ushered us into a large board room and helped me set up the projector. Before she left, she told us the Head of marketing would be joining us shortly. He had been delayed on his way she explained.
A few minutes later, the board room door opened to admit a tall frame. My colleague motioned for me to take the position at the front of the room. I rose up and took centre stage. That’s when I saw the Head of Marketing. It was Ikenna, the man who had been in the taxi with me on the way to work.
I opened my mouth but words failed me.