LIZZIE'S WORLD: An all-consuming day at work

Friday March 22 2019

Faced with a full in-tray, Liz gets overwhelmed. ILLUSTRATION| JOSEPH NGARI


“Liz, you know, you always do what you want anyway, even in situations where you should consult me. So I don’t know why you’re asking me now.

Si you just go ahead and do what you want?” That’s Fatma, dismissing my request to get her opinion on her new staff member, Brian, asking me to mentor him.

After she delivers her little tirade she hangs up and leaves me staring at my phone in frustration.

My first instinct is to call either Mariam or Jo and relay the details of everything that has happened in the past week or so — but I am distracted by the sound of my office door opening and Julius, the HR director, walking into my office and helping himself to one of my guest chairs.

“We have shortlisted the fellows we are interested in for the factory manager position,” he announces without preamble.

“Ok. And?” I am impatient to get back to the things that were on my mind a few seconds before he walked in but it seems I never have any peace with this job these days.


“I need you to block off next week Tuesday for this exercise.”


I glance down at my ragged nails that I was planning to see my manicurist on Tuesday to fix and sigh.

“Do I have a choice?” I ask him. I wonder for a minute if there is ever anything a man needs to do in order to keep up appearances, besides getting a 10-minute haircut. Women seem to always be rushing from make-up retail shop to salon to nail spa to apparel store in order to look halfway decent.

Julius shakes his head and frowns. “Did you have anything else planned for the day?” he asks

“Nothing serious,” I sigh, wondering if he could ever fathom how serious it feels to me to be unable to take notes during a meeting because I feel like everyone will judge me for my poor nail grooming.

“Good,” he says, standing up. “We start at 8am. The candidates’ CVs are in your e-mail.” I nod, and pick up my phone to cancel my meeting with my nail guy. And then, curious to see who we will be talking to, I head into my e-mails … and am immediately distracted by my door opening again, and this time, it’s Ciku, bearing a stack of files so big that she’s almost tipping over backwards, beads of sweat escaping her brow.

“Here are the factory reports you asked for, dating back two years,” she says as she plops the files on my desk.


“Why are they in paper form? Have they never heard of e-mails down there?”

She shrugs. “I think it’s all the paperwork from suppliers and things like that. They need to sign delivery notes and things.”

“Right,” I nod. My aim is to investigate Frank’s use of resources over the time that he has been running the factory show, now that his clearance forms have landed at my desk. “I suppose I should get to it then,” I say. Ciku nods and steps out of the room, closing the door gently behind her. I pause for minute to think about how cordial our relations have become since Chris left, and since she helped me sort out Frank. And just when a warm glow is starting to creep over my heart, I am brought back to earth by the sound of my desk extension ringing. I pick up. It’s Louise.

“I’ve just sent you the marketing reports you asked for,” she says.

“Can you not process them yourself?” I ask, feeling more than a little irritated now by all the interruptions to my day.

“Yes, but I also need your guidance …” she trails off when she hears my loud sigh. “I know that sigh, Liz. It means you’re done with everything and everyone. How do I help you make your workload easier?”

I sigh even louder. “You don’t,” I tell her directly. “You just focus on your tasks. I’ll figure myself out. I’m sorry for my outburst.”

I can almost hear the smile in her voice. “That’s all right, Liz,” she says. “If you need anything, just shout.” Immediately we hang up I send an e-mail to Ciku asking her to screen all my phone calls and guests for the next two hours.

And then, just when I am settling into all my tasks, my cell phone rings — and this time’s it’s Brian.