“Coffee, Sugar & Kpop”
I work in the Branding and Marketing Department of a mid-sized but somewhat high profile investment and holdings firm. When I got the position a year ago on a recommendation by a friend, my job description read: responsibilities included but not limited to working directly beneath Content Director in the capacity of an executive assistant, liaising with PR department, in-house media department and retained Advertising Firm, Internet research, Social Media management and minor desktop publishing.
As most young professionals do I soon found out that all of the above was wash and my true and actual responsibility was to take the fall whenever things went wrong – which they did with nothing short of miraculous consistency.
As a rule, I kept my office Blackberry switched off till I actually reached the office for my own peace of mind. It was a big no no but I just fell back on the trusty and true bad network excuse (it’s network O! It’s network! Chai! This country won’t kill me!) that no one can really argue with and kept my commute sacred.
On getting to work, I never so much as approached my shared corner desk without a fortifying mug of coffee and a high sucrose snack because without fail there would be, waiting for me in my inbox, a clusterfuck of biblical proportions in the form of a mile long email thread, each additional message in which the entire exec board had been CC’d, more surreal than the last.
I’ve found from experience that daily disasters are so much more manageable when one is immersed in a haze of caffeine, sugar and, if possible, Korean Pop music.
Plugged into my Kpop playlist (filled with my blessed faves Big Bang, 2NE1 and my newest faves iKON) I would quickly settle into the task of abasing myself to all those who required abasement and making commitments I would most likely never be able to keep because they required skill sets far outside my own, including but not limited to the ability to perform works and miracles.
I could do this because as a one year veteran in the corporate jungle, the single most important survival skill I have picked up is the understanding that there is nothing so important as the appearance of doing something.
But even with this almighty formula in my armory, I probably wouldn’t have lasted long. My position had the highest turn over rate in the entire company after that of our CEO’s PAs. Those poor souls burned out like cheap candles on a regular basis.
My real secret weapon was the friend who had recommended me and who also happened to be the HOD of the Media department. Yup. Score one for Gigi!
Her name was Akudo and she’d also been my senior in secondary school. The funny thing is back then, we’d had nothing to do with each other because we’d moved in different social circles. But somehow, after meeting again at a mutual friend’s party some years back, we’d become good friends.
Akudo came from a wealthy, old family and I still remembered her clearly as a confident and popular senior. Apparently that trend continued into her professional life. At our firm, thanks to the contacts her family had, She. Was. Untouchable; a golden child that could do no wrong, and even though I didn’t work directly under her, everyone knew she’d brought me in and I was her personal person.
Therefore, no matter how much crap I got mired in, I came out sparkly clean at the other end courtesy of Akudo. I was literally the perfect scape goat because thanks to her, I was immortal. Eventually whatever debacle had occurred would blow over (or be replaced by an uglier mess in a different department) and everyone’s memory of it would reset to zero. This was how I was surviving.
This particular day, however, I started my morning a little stressed out because I woke up with the memory of my visit to Nytrogen and realized I had booked myself in for a scintillating round of the waiting game.
How could I have left that club without even getting his freaking name? How on earth was I supposed to internet screen him now? And I couldn’t rely on Maminat to ID him because… wait, or could I? She was only a space cadet with things that didn’t directly relate to her interests but once it was engaged, her mind could become scary focused…
I pondered my dilemma while scrolling through that morning’s clusterfuck which involved the non-realization of a small International Finance Conference that our firm was supposed to be the principal host for. The company calendar showed it was supposed to have started today. Speakers had been flown in from overseas and this email thread was my first official notification of the event.
Embassies would have to be called and new A-holes would have to be ripped but to be honest, and I know this sounds jaded, but i’d seen worse. Like that time the landing page of our website featured scrolling News headlines about our company and one particularly large fonted one calling our CEO a Thief and a Pervert just happened to be the one that greeted visitors to the page for almost a week before anyone noticed… my immortal goat status was really tested that time…
I answered emails on automatic pilot while still struggling with my problem and finally decided it was best to ask and know for sure that Maminat couldn’t identify him so I would be able to move on to other lines of investigation. I fired off a hopeful DM in her direction.
Foluso, my desk mate, watched me with suspicion.
“Um – sis Bolaji, why do you look like you’re working? Please, stop, it’s somehow.”
I sighed, “Don’t mind me, I’m not really here now…”
Foluso and I had bonded over time as table mates and fellow sacrificial livestock. It occurred to me that he might have information that could help me in today’s round of abasement. “Come,” I addressed him, “d’you know anything about a conference?”
Foluso snorted turning back to his screen where he was posting a Yoruba Devil selfie on his FB, “Which dirty conference?” he said with disgust clear in every syllable. “Something that was pulled out of Mr. Gani’s ass during Self- Evaluation circle so that he wouldn’t look like all he’s done since he joined this company is develop jowls.”
The cogs of my brain started to turn, slowly at first but then, after beginning to receive their load of caffeine and sugar, picking up steam. A vague memory of our last Team Building Seminar at La Campagne Tropicana took shape. “Oh, yeah….” I frowned, “Ahn – ah, but we knew he was just talking… he sef was laughing!”
“Yes, well, MD’s PA circa that period apparently was not informed about our house rule of thumb: Anything that happens in a Retreat stays in the Retreat. He went and updated our Commander in Chief’s calendar. Apparently CEO was looking so forward to it that he contacted the proposed speakers himself.”
“Shit.” I said realizing the gravity of a situation that so involved our boss’ ego.
“Exactly.” Foluso said dolefully. “Our Directors and managers all showed up on time today. My dear, if you want my opinion, now is a good time to start updating your Linked In.”
I rolled my eyes because Foluso thought everyday was a good time to update your Linked-In. But considering the situation, after a quick glance around that assured me that everyone was keeping their head down that morning, I shifted my email program aside and opened up my Linked-In profile page.
A text came back from Maminat just then. It read simply, “Who?”
… so much for that….
FYI: All the chapters for this story can be found HERE on Channel Two with the most recent chapter at the top.