By the time Monday morning rolls around I am feeling well prepared for my big, scheduled altercation with our human resource department and Frank from the factory.
Despite the circumstances, I drive to work with a smile on my face; the lovely memories of the weekend I have just had with my friends is top on my mind.
I am so happy we are all finally together and happy.
In fact, when we drove back to the city yesterday evening, we decided that we would now make this retreat a monthly thing so that, in Fatma’s words, “we always keep in touch with each other’s emotional space.”
FLOATING ON A CLOUD
And so I waltz into the office, feeling like I am floating on a cloud. Ciru watches as I walk in. “Looks like someone had a great weekend,” she notes.
And the sound of her voice brings me jarringly back to earth and to the troubles that await me.
“It was good,” I nod, trying hard not to look too happy – I mean, Ciru and I still have all the drama we have to fix, and that drama affects a good number of women here. “How are you?” I ask her. “I hope you are ready for this week?”
She sighs sadly and nods. “Do we have a choice?” she smiles wryly. I shake my head and purse my lips; things have progressed too far for us to back down now.
“We’ll all be okay, you have my guarantee,” I reach out to pat her arm and then make my way into Chris’ former office… which is now officially mine.
The first email I see when I flip my computer open is from the HR department, stating that we shall meet to review the claims that the female employees have made against Frank… and to review the claims he has made against me, on Tuesday. “Game on,” I say to myself as I look at the appointments Ciru has made for me.
To my pleasant surprise, top on the list for today is Louise – who seems to finally be coming back to work! I am about to whoop for joy when the phone call comes through and Ciru informs me that Louise is here. “Send her in!” I say happily, and then I stand up and prepare myself to give her a warm, welcoming hug. Louise opens the door and walks into my office with a look of awe on her face. “Wow, Liz,” she says as she walks in. “I can’t believe we made it!”
“We did!” I laugh as we both jump about with glee like little girls. It’s a good thing no one can see us. “But remember, this is temporary. They may choose someone else to take over the position permanently.”
“Oh, pssh!” Louise waves me away. “You will get it.”
“Do I want it though?” I ask her as I usher her towards the couch in the corner and pour her a glass of water from the mini-fridge.
“What do you mean?” she asks.
“Look, it’s scary, this position,” I say, indicating around the office with my chin. “One wrong decision could get our country operations shut down. So many employees depending on the strategies the MD chooses… I mean… the pressure… the demands…”
“But do you know how many young women you will inspire by doing this job as well as I know you can?” she asks.
I frown even harder. “And that’s the worst part, Louise, I am hardly a role model. I’m just someone who loves her job and does it and… I didn’t ask to be anyone’s symbol or someone to look up to or anything. I just want to be me. Little old imperfect me.”
Louise stares at me intently for a while; I can see she is reading my mind, which she is usually so good at.
“So you’re scared?” she cuts right through to the bare bones of it.
I stare at her. She stares at me. Then we crack out in a fit of giggling. “You’ll be fine,” she says once more. Meanwhile I look at her polished coif, manicured nails and just her fresh, new attitude, and I am impressed with what I see. “You look like the new marketing manager. So I think I will make you the next marketing manager!” We laugh again. And then, feeling serious for a moment, I take Louise’s hand and say, “It’s time for us women to rule this roost. So let’s go do this.” And thus begins the next chapter in all our lives.