I am alerted to the sounds of unusual activity outside my office early on Tuesday morning as I type away at my computer. It’s mostly women’s voices in excited tones, and it sounds like there’s a party going on outside.
At the same time, I receive a ‘ping’ from my computer indicating that an email has come through; I open my email app. It’s from Frank. “Time to say goodbye” says the email header, and I don’t even open the message body; I have seen all I need to see. I also connect the dots and figure that this is what the women outside are celebrating, so I stand up to go and see for myself.
Suddenly my door bursts open and Ciku comes bursting in. “He’s gone!” she yells, with a wide smile and grateful tears in her eyes. Before I can say anything, she wraps her arms around me in a warm hug. I stand there, shocked and pleased, and tongue-tied all at the same time before I figure that it is okay to gently pat her back.
Ciku finally lets go and leans back. “Thank you so much, Liz. I didn’t think anyone would ever change things for us. We are so grateful.”
I smile. “I’m just happy it all worked out,” I say. And then I remember the stack of deadlines I am working against. “Why don’t you all go back to work now and then we can plan a formal celebration later?” I ask her gently. She nods. I watch her literally bounce out of the office on a wave of joy, and my mind goes back to all the times that she and I fought, and when I was convinced that of all the people who work here, she hated me the most. “How things change,” I mutter to myself as I go back to my desk to call Julius and get all the details.
“Have we opened ourselves up to a labour dispute?” I ask him, regarding the unorthodox way in which the inquiry into Frank’s affairs went.
THEY ALL KNEW
“No,” Julius tells me. “All I did was ask him a few pertinent questions to let him know that we knew what he had been up to. I mean, I’ve been trying to find this evidence you delivered for years. The entire board knew what he had been up to but with no one ready to speak against him, it was difficult.”
“You all knew?!” My eyes are open. “Why didn’t you do anything?”
Julius sighs. “Some of us tried to talk to him man-to-man,” he says. “But he was so arrogant about things I figured he must have had someone’s protection to be so sure he would never lose his job.”
“Who was protecting him?” I ask.
Julius keeps silent for a few significant seconds. “I always assumed it was Chris.”
I swallow hard as a chill runs down my spine. “I see,” I say tightly. “Thanks for the information. Call me if you need anything else, okay?” And then we hang up.
I lean back in my chair and contemplate what I have just heard. Chris knew everything but didn’t do a single thing to help the women in the workplace? Exactly what kind of man had I been dating? I am about to sift through all the information I have in my head when my office door opens once again – and this time, it’s Louise who walks in.
“I just wanted to say hi and let you know I am officially back at work,” she smiles as she walks towards my desk. “I’ll be in your old office-,” we both laugh, “-learning the ropes.”
“There isn’t much to learn, you always knew what I did,” I reassure her. I am really glad Louise is here; I finally feel like I have an ally around these parts. And Lord knows, in the following days, it will be extremely important for me to have at least one person I can trust to help me navigate the choppy waters that I am sure I will have to sail through.