I got my office 15 minutes later and said a silent prayer before I alighted from the car. It’s not me who wants to be sacked because I came late, so my God had to come through.
I met a furious Demola pacing up and down his office. He was obviously very angry at nobody but me.
“You’re one hour late Uno. Is this how you plan to impress our client? By coming late to your first meeting?” He yelled at me.
“I’m very sorry sir. There was heavy traffic on my way here and one man…”
“Save your explanation for later and let’s get going. We’ll go in my car.”
“Just the two of us?” I asked him.
“Chima is already waiting for us at Twig.”
“Ok sir.” I walked to the door and my boss followed closely behind me.
We got into his car and spent the next twenty minutes driving to our client’s Ikoyi office. Chima called them a few times to find out where they were and throughout the drive there, I went through my proposal over and over again.
“We’re here to see Mr. Fola Wiltshire. We have an appointment.” Demola said as he pulled over in front of the company gate.
The security man opened the gate and let us drive in after confirming from the reception that we actually had an appointment. We walked into the office and met Chima sitting at the reception. He stood up and after exchanging pleasantries with Demola and I, we all walked up to the receptionist.
“Good morning, we are from Bridges Advertising Agency and we have an appointment with Mr. Fola Wiltshire.” Demola introduced us.
“He has been expecting you.” The receptionist said as she stood up. “Please come with me.” She said as she led us to a conference room.
“Mr. Wiltshire will be with you shortly.”
“Thank you.” We chorused as she left the room.
In a few minutes, the door opened and a woman who looked like she was in her mid twenties walked into the office.
“Good morning. My name is Florence Eke, head of PR and communications.” She said as she shook hands with each of us.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Demola smiled at her.
“Same here. The MD will be…”
The door opened and interrupted her statement.
“Oh there he is.” She said as a young man walked in.
I looked up and my eyes caught the man who had hit her car earlier. I looked at him in disbelief and it all seemed like a joke to me. I looked round to see if there were any cameras because it had to be a prank. This man who had been rude to me previously could not be the MD of Twig. It wasn’t possible.
“Good Morning, Fola Ade-Wiltshire, pleasure to meet you.” He said as he shook hands with Demola and Chima.
I was still furious with him so when it got to my turn, I didn’t accept his handshake. Demola looked sternly at me and I immediately shook his hand. I wasn’t going to let bash my car and career in one day, God forbid!
“I’m sorry this meeting is starting late. I was in a small accident this morning.” Fola said with his gaze fixed on me.
Before anyone else could reply, I blurted out,
“I was in an accident too, that’s why we were also late.” I stared at Fola, oblivious of Demola’s cold stare.
“Well I don’t think that’s enough excuse for you to show up to an appointment one hour later.” Fola’s eyes darted to Demola and Chima.
He was trying to push my buttons, but I refused to fall for his trap.
“Please accept our unreserved apologies. This would not repeat itself in future.” Demola quickly responded.
“Great then. So what do you have for us?” Fola asked.
“My colleague here, Unoaku Edekobi, will take over from here.” Demola said gesturing to me.
Chima helped me set my laptop up with the projector and soon, i began my presentation.
At first, my shyness coupled with the anger I felt didn’t let me shine through. But because the devil is a liar, I gained my confidence after a few minutes. I wasn’t going to shame myself in front of this man after everything.
I explained step by step how Bridges planned to take advertising to a whole new level with the Twig campaign, how we intended to use all the possible means and people to achieve our goal and even showed figures of projected outreaches at the end of the campaign.
Everyone seemed to be pleased with my presentation except Fola. When I had finished, they all clapped in excitement while Fola looked on uninterestedly. When everyone had calmed down, I asked them if they had any questions.
“I have a question.” Fola said.
“Yes?” I replied.
“What kind of person gives a presentation without distributing hard copies of it to those in attendance? How are we supposed to follow?” He asked.
Who still uses hard copies to present?
“Well that’s why I projected it onto a larger screen so everyone could follow. Before we leave, I’d send you a copy for you to look through at your spare time.” I explained.
“I’m sorry, but I won’t pay any attention to your presentation if it’s not in hard copy. Do you expect me to carry a laptop around just so that I can go through your presentation?” Fola fired.
He had to be kidding me. It’s like they sent him from hell to frustrate my life. He just wanted to water down my whole presentation and I couldn’t take it. But what was I going to do? Nothing!
So I clenched my fist and walked back to my seat as Demola spoke up.
“That’s not a problem. We will get hard copies for you.”
“Great then. We’ll start talking business when I get the hard copy.”
“You’ll get it now. I’m going to print it.” Chima stood up and walked to the laptop to disconnect it.
“I have another meeting I have to get to. When you get the hard copies, please leave them with the receptionist. Enjoy the rest of your day.” Fola stood up and walked out.
Florence congratulated all of us on a great presentation and said we had high chances of getting the contract before she left the room.
“Shall we?” Demola said as he stood up.
We all walked out of the office. On our way out, Demola instructed Chima to find a place to print the documents Fola asked for. Chima went in search of a place to print while Demola and Ogugua walked to the car. We got into the car and sat silently till Chima returned with the documents. Demola instructed him to leave it with the receptionist and head to office immediately after. We hit the road and began our journey back to VI.
The journey back to the office was a silent one. The air was tense and I wasn’t sure what Demola was thinking. I knew that my presentation was wonderful but I wasn’t sure if my boss was happy about how I had spoken to Fola Wiltshire. I defended myself in my head and blamed Fola for the cold and rude replies I gave him. It was definitely no fault of mine, he deserved it.
We finally got to the office and Demola headed straight to his office without saying a word to me. I walked to my desk and slumped into my chair as Salewa quickly rolled herself to me.
“How far now? How did it go?” She asked me.
“Mehn, I don’t know o.”
“What do you mean you don’t know? You didn’t give a good presentation? The clients were not happy? What exactly happened?”
“My presentation was not so bad. It could have been better if the idiot who calls himself their MD didn’t already ruin my morning.”
“I don’t understand what you’re saying. Ruin your morning how?” Salewa asked
I went on to explain everything that happened that morning. How Fola had hit my car on my way to work, how he was unapologetic about it, the shock on my face when I found out he was the MD of Twig and how he had told us to bring hard copies of our presentation. Throughout my explanation, Salewa did not fail to give all her usual dramatic expressions. There were loud shout of ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’. So much so that our colleagues looked towards them anytime they heard Salewa’s voice, wondering what was happening.
“What did oga say about everything?” Salewa asked me after I had explained.
“Nothing o. He hasn’t said a single word to me since we left that place. Although he clapped after I finished the presentation. I guess he liked it.”
My phone rang before Salewa could reply. Demola was calling and he wanted to see me in his office.
“He wants to see me.” I signaled his door as I stood up.
Salewa quickly did the sign of the cross on my chest.
“It is well.” She sighed.
I smiled in appreciation of concern and after mouthing a thank you, I walked into Demola’s office. He offered me a seat as soon as I entered and the questioning began.
“What do you think about your performance today Uno?” He asked me.
“I think the presentation was good, even though it could have been better.”
With Demola, you never claim to be a genius if not, he’ll look for how to disgrace you and your ancestors.
“Asides from the presentation? Any other observations?”
“No sir.” She said.
“Did you already forget about your attitude towards Mr. Wiltshire? You forgot how rude you were?”
“That wasn’t my fault. He caused it. He hit my…”
“Unoaku, I don’t know if you have met this man before, but whatever misunderstanding you had with him should have been set aside during that meeting. You were on the job and you were not supposed to be wearing your emotions on your face. That was the height of indiscipline. Do you know what your attitude might cost us? A million dollar opportunity! Would you be happy if I didn’t fulfill my obligation to you as a boss because my wife annoyed me?” He was exasperated.
“No sir.” I said under my breath.
“Good! You’re great at your job Uno. I shouldn’t be dealing with issues like this because of you.”
“I’m sorry sir. It won’t happen again.” I apologized.
“It better not.” He said almost immediately. “Hopefully your attitude doesn’t cost us this contract.” Demola added.
I apologized again and left his office quickly, before he thought of something else I had done wrong. I went back and told Salewa everything Demola said. I was worried that I could lose my job if Bridges didn’t get the contract.
“Don’t worry about it joor. I’m not sure Twig will want to lose the amazing service we’re offering because of a few bad responses. You said the other person liked your presentation abi? So chill.”
“I pray o. Because I cannot be out of a job now.”
“Calm down abeg. You worry too much. If push comes to shove, I’ll talk to Kene, he’ll employ you.” Salewa assured me.
I laughed. She had a way of making me feel better. Plus knowing she had my back was reassuring.
The day went by uneventfully and I thought it would pass without more drama, but alas, I was wrong, Salewa had her own plans.