That was the content of the SMS that got delivered to my phone on Monday afternoon, although I didn’t see it until late in the evening when I was preparing to go home. The number that sent it was not one I recognized and when I dialed, the line was switched off. I deleted the message and promptly forgot about it on the assumption that it had been sent erroneously.
On Wednesday morning, I got the same message again.
Again, all attempts to reach the sender proved futile.
Work was pretty routine for most of the week until Thursday. We were in a special departmental performance review meeting when Karishika came in unannounced. It was our first eye to eye after the little episode at her house but she didn’t pay me any special heed or act like anything was amiss. Madam unit head immediately called for a pause in proceedings so that we could listen to Karishika’s address.
“Hello people. I’m really sorry to barge in on you like this without prior notice but it is imperative that you guys should be aware of some the changes that will be happening around this place soon. I’m sure you’re in the know about the recent crisis in the forex market which has caused dollar rates to spiral out of control. Well, if the situation persists for much longer we might be forced to take drastic actions in this firm. By drastic actions I’m talking about shedding manpower to reduce our operating cost. As it is, the IT department which is a cost center is the one place where HR thinks we are slightly bloated and that means if we need to let people go, IT is the ideal place to start. This is not meant to be taken as a threat, but as an incentive to spur you on and make sure that whatever you do for this firm, you put in one hundred and ten percent. Make yourself relevant and indispensable so that even if we have to send people home which I pray doesn’t happen, you won’t be one of the affected. As long as you’re passionate and dedicated about what you do and you’re ready to make the necessary sacrifices then you shouldn’t have any problems.”
At this point her eyes were resting squarely on me.
“Is that clear people?”
We chorused an affirmative reply.
Then she bade us a good day and made her exit.
When the door shut behind her, my unit head took over the baton.
“You all heard what madam said so there’s no further need to continue with the meeting.
At this junction, the importance of going the extra mile cannot be over emphasized. This is not the time for business as usual and just doing your job alone. The only thing that will stand you out and put you on a pedestal above your peers is that extra weight you can pull while still delivering outstandingly on your KPIs. If you can manage to do that, then your future is secured. I wish every one of you the best of luck.”
With that charge she dismissed us.
I went back to my table with a feeling that Karishika’s address had somehow been a sub directed at me. Abi, all the talk about extra miles and stuff sounded like thinly veiled references to that our little time out. Was she indirectly threatening to fire me? Since when did IT become over bloated? This same IT that normally struggles under the weight of work especially when we had special contracts? Those thoughts were still running round my head when my phone vibrated. I pulled it out of my pocket and removed it from meeting mode before opening the SMS that had just been delivered.
Different number, same message – BUSTED!!!
Luckily the number rang on this occasion.
That was all though; it rang and rang and rang.
I called the line eight times consecutively but nobody picked it up. Trucaller did not bring up any name when I ran a search so I wasn’t any closer to knowing who was at the other end.
Finally I had to shove it out of my mind so I could concentrate on the more pressing matter of (God forbid) a possible job loss.
I got another one of those messages on Friday morning but I didn’t even bother calling the number again, sure that whosoever was playing that prank would soon tire of it.
Madam Ayiri called on Friday afternoon to inform me that she would be out of town over the weekend as she had to travel with a family friend to Ekiti for a burial ceremony and would only return to Lagos late on Sunday evening. That got me thinking since from the look of things, the weekend was going to be boring and lonely.
Toyin was on a week’s compassionate leave to get over the shock of her near robbery experience and had travelled to see her folks. I needed to find something to fill my Saturday.
My mind stumbled upon Susan. Sharply I picked up the phone and sent her an SMS, since I didn’t want any tongues wagging or have to answer any awkward questions that may probably come up from my colleagues if I called her to my table for discussions. The chick didn’t have a blackberry yet.
Hi there, TGIF. What are you doing tomorrow?
The reply came after a few minutes.
TGIF to you too sir. Nothin really for the most part, why sir?
I smiled as I typed the next message.
Nothing much Susan, I see we are still on this sir matter.
Yes sir, sorry sir.
LOL. Anyways, what plans do you have for tomorrow?
No firm plans sir. Can I come to your table? I dnt av crdt to txt with again.
No, don’t. Gimme a sec, let me send you some.
I went online and bought one thousand naira worth of Airtel airtime off Quickteller which I sent to her. She texted back instantly.
Thank you sir. What’s on your mind?
Well, I was thinking we could hang out tomorrow.
Okay sir, no problem. What time and where?
Now I was grinning.
Say around 2 p.m., I’ll let you know where later.
Okay sir. I’ll be expecting your call/message.