By: Oluchi Ndee
I call my office the “Pressure Pot”.
We professionally manage crisis. Files are constantly briskly carried about. It is almost normal to see someone’s head literally buried in a computer. Phones are constantly ringing, emails are constantly fired back and forth. Occasionally, you hear bouts of laughter when we all remember we are all human and not robots and laugh out the tension.
Friday nights out are like the Vitamin C needed for a relaxing weekend. Then Monday comes and we remember the Friday before with surreal longing. Asking if Monday can have another name… Re-Friday perhaps?!
I interchange between Uber and Taxify alot. This fateful day, I used one of them. The cab arrived and I got in.
“Mango Road, Ikoyi”, I responded. It was one of those days . I was totally spent, I just wanted a cold shower, pillow and blanket. Work never really ends. I mentally tried to recount my day, thinking of the things I needed to complete the next day, calls to make before I slept, emails to respond to. My brain was still working, my mind in a million fragmented places.
“Do you know the name of the Hotel or Motel you are going to?”, the driver asked. I was jolted back to consciousness. Wait..whaaat? I looked around and we just got to my street. “I beg your pardon?”, I asked.
“Do you know the name of the Hotel or Motel you are going to?”, he asked again.
You see…I have learnt to practice the “Pause”. Just five seconds can save a life. I paused…I must have made it to three seconds because I caught his defiant eye in the rear view mirror.
“Why does it have to be a Hotel or a Motel?” I asked.
“No Madam…it’s a simple question….. I just… ” I didn’t let him finish , I cut him short. “Why can’t it be a house , or a flat? Why Hotel or Motel?”
At this point I took a quick look at myself. Black work dress still on , jacket still on, office ID card still hung over my neck, flat shoes, nude make up, hot mess of hair. My eyes grew wide in disgust. How????
“Madam don’t take it personal, it is just a routine question we are trained to ask as drivers. I need to know your exact location”, he said. “I picked you from your house, that white building in VI…and you didn’t give me the street number.”
“Be quick to hear, slow to listen and slow to anger” I mentally said to myself before replying, “That white house was my office, thank you for asking and you take the next left turn through that black gate. That is my house.”
He was totally dumb till I got down.
“Good Evening Ma, welcome Ma”, Abubakar! I made a mental note to remember to tip him this weekend as he took my carrier bags.
I paid the driver and rated him lowest, giving my reasons on the App. I packed my “evident” work bag and made my way up the stairs.
I am a hardworking young female, working my ass off every day to earn a paycheck legitimately. How did I act or look to suggest otherwise? I tried to figure it out and you know my conclusion?
Hard working women rarely get the respect they deserve, especially not in Nigeria.