the much anticipated arrival
It was an unusual Monday morning at Lancast Media. Everyone was at the right place discharging their duties. Lancast Media had over the years earned itself a good place in the Nigerian Media Industry. In fact, it was regarded as the most fun place anyone in Lagos State could work. They had in-house parties every Friday, lunch delivered to the office everyday, background music all day for continuous creativity, girls of all sizes dressed in the hottest dresses. This Monday however was different. Utmost silence became the background music. For the first time, every member of staff was corporately dressed. Anyone would wonder why things changed all of a sudden? The new CEO was coming in. I'll also tell you the reason why things were the way they were.
Lanre Castle, the Chairman of Lancast Media wasn't as vibrant as he used to be anymore- old age was setting in. He was an interesting rich man to everyone, as long as you were bringing in money into the company’s account.The ladies who brought in lots of money soon became decision makers. As such, there was little or no supervision from anyone.
Deji Castle, the son of the chairman had recently moved back to Nigeria after his undergraduate, triple masters degree and doctorate in the United States. He was coming to change the norms and set new rules at Lancast Media.
As expected, everyone was still. It seemed an angelic visitation was being expected. Indeed it was an angel but this time, he was in human form. Deji Castle finally arrived and all eyes went in the direction of the glass door. An escort came down from the car to open the door for him. Just like we see in movies, where the shoes go on display before the person steps out, it wasn't any different. The shoes reflected the sun, well patterned and polished. I could bet the thought on everyone's mind was, “Can he just come down already,” especially the girls who were all ready for a catch.
Walking towards the office was a very tall man,about 6ft 5 (just guessing) , neatly carved beards with no strand of hair on his head. His skin shone like dark chocolate. His suit looked so perfect, one would wonder if it was sewn on him. It didn't need a label that screamed “Expensive designer ” but it was pretty obvious.
Within in a few seconds, he was in the office with all eyes on him. He took off his glasses and smiled at everyone. His dentition was also very perfect with a sparkling set of white teeth. Everyone smiled back at him eagerly waiting for him to say his first words and alas he did but it wasn't quite what everyone was expecting.
“Hey guys, it’s good to be here. I hope you feel the same way after the first few months. If I were you, I'll concentrate on my work and try to retain my job after the next month. Only the best of the best stays! Thank you.” He said as he walked into his office.
Everyone felt like ice water had just dropped on them and the silence continued. No one moved an inch out of their desks except Ranti. She was the hottest girl in Lancast media and she was very much aware of that fact. This made her attitude even worse. She had an hourglass figure and wore the best clothes. She could flirt her way through any situation and as a result she brought in more than 70% of advert placements . She would often pride in the fact that she was regarded as one of the company’s assets. “Where was she going?” Everyone thought to themselves. We all watched her as she walked straight into Deji's office.
In less than five seconds, she was out of the office. We all wondered what went wrong. Her beautiful body and charming smile always worked for her but this time, we could tell her visit didn't go as planned.
People hid their faces in their workstations to laugh at her except me who let my emotions get the best of me. I laughed so hard but stopped as soon as I saw her looking and realised I was the only one laughing.
“Cleo are you stupid or something?” Ranti asked as she moved to my station in anger.
“Who gave you the right to be in my business? You must think highly of yourself. You good for nothing geek.”
“Ranti how dare you speak to me like that?” I asked angrily.
“And what can you do?” she asked moving closer.
Now, everyone was watching the both of us like a show.
“Cleo all you know how to do is just write, write and write and that is why you are still on the same level I met you seven years ago.” Ranti laughed.
“Ranti!” I screamed. I couldn’t imagine how she could be comfortable saying such hurtful words to me.
“I know you can’t deal with the fact that I'm the brain behind the online success of Lancast Media. I said in a bid to feel better.
“Oh dear. I'm touched.” She replied sarcastically.
“I bring in the money that pays your salary you twat. A geek is what you are and will always be Cleo! I hear your mum is hospitalized and you need close to 4 million naira for her surgery. Maybe if you were more than a geek, you may have been able to sort the bills.”
I had tears all up in my eyes. What was I thinking getting into a heated argument with Ranti.
“That’s enough Ranti. I am sorry I laughed at you. Leave my station please.” I pleaded.
“I can help you with the Money Cleo.”
I paused for a while, wiped my face and sat up in my chair.
“What did you just say?” I asked
“I said I can help you with the money.” She repeated confidently
“Are you serious?” I asked surprised.
“Yes I am but this is not a gift.”
“Ranti I hope you know I can't pay back anytime soon.”
“Oh shut up. Of course you can't. It’s not a loan as well.
“Then what is it?” I asked curiously
“It’s a bet.”
“A bet?” I asked in shock.
“Yes, a bet. Get the CEO in three weeks and I’ll give you $10,000 for your mother’s surgery.
“How do you mean get the CEO?”
“Get him to fall for you.”
“Ranti!” I shouted. “How am I supposed to do that?”
“I don’t know. Try anything, everything. You have three weeks. If I were you, I’ll start now.
“Why are you doing this Ranti?”
“I love competition. We are in this together. Besides, you have to prove to me you are more than just a geek.”
“Wait a minute! Ranti you mean I'm in this bet with you. You know I’ll never win. This is mean and how am I supposed to give you $10,000 when I eventually lose?”
“Never mind geek. I know you can’t afford it in your wildest dreams. It’s a one-sided bet. I’ll be the one to give the money and if you lose I’ll be satisfied knowing I wasn’t wrong about you. That should be enough for me.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t Ranti. I'll get the money elsewhere. Thank you.”
“Okay then.” She said laughing as she swung her hips away from my workstation back to hers.
While I was still trying to digest what had just happened, the door of the CEO's office was pushed open and Deji was soon in the workspace.
“So, I’ll like to know the head of the copy department.” He asked.
My tiny voice replied from the extreme end of the work station, “I am the head of the copy department sir. My name is Cleopatra Obi.”
“Hmm Cleo I see. You are the famous Cleo.”
I smiled and didn’t say anything.
“Okay good.” He said as he walked towards me, scanning my body for about ten seconds.
“So, who's the head of the Adverts and Sales department?
“I, Mr Deji.” Ranti replied as she stood up in a provocative manner with one hand resting comfortably on her hips with a smile.
“And your name is?” He asked with a straight face.
“Okay good. That will be all for today. Cleo meet me in my office now. I'll meet the rest of you as time goes on.” He said as he turned swiftly and walked into his office. I stood up immediately and rushed behind him. I couldn’t catch up with him. Just before I got to the door, he entered his office and shut the door in my face. Confused, I turned and stared at everyone asking what they thought I should do.
“Knock” they all advised and so I knocked.
“Come in.” He said as he pointed in the direction of a seat.
“I always scanned through the website and every document you put together while I was away. I was quite impressed but I'm very sure you can do better. Mind you, I'm very difficult to please. You have to work very hard.”
“I will sir. I promise.”
You may be having a fully funded scholarship for an advanced course in copywriting in Netherlands if you keep your promise.My eyes immediately shone brighter as I thanked him.
We spent the rest of the day going over ad copies intended for the next six months. When we were done, I was on my way out when he said, “Cleo you are pretty!” Shocked at his compliment, my mouth wide open.
“Close your mouth and my door Cleo.”
“Yea sure.” I replied as I ran out of the office.
While I stood in front of the office, I couldn't stop thinking about what had just happened.I never thought of myself as pretty. At that time, I never used makeup or made anything nice with my hair except for neat cornrows. Long flowing skirts or big jeans and polo shirts were my most comfortable outfits. I wondered if I heard him correctly?
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