I wondered how I would survive since it was Tamuno’s money I was depending on to repay Mr Theodore. I was too ashamed to ask for an extension. He had done too much for me already. From the first day I walked into the building with my scanty resume, I knew he was my guardian angel. He looked up from the counter and asked me where I was from. When I told him he said, “We’re all brothers!” I had smiled. He was old enough to be my father. He asked me what experience I had in customer service. I told him none, but I had a degree from home in computer science. He nodded, never once glancing at the paper in his hand. He asked if I was a legal resident. I replied that I was. I had won the visa lottery. He asked me to report the next evening at 7 p.m.
My cell phone service was interrupted for not paying my bill a few days later. The first thing that occurred to me was the interview. The HR manager could be trying to contact me since I left my cell number as the preferred mode of communication after the interview. No one knew if Tamuno had returned from his trip. I debated for days about what to do and eventually decided to stop by his work place before going to work.
It was about 2 p.m. when I pulled my car into the parking spot across the street from Winthrop and Galloway. I filled the meter with quarters and jogged across the street. The cold air hit me as soon as I stepped into the building. I walked to the smiling receptionist whom I met on the day I came for the interview.
“I remember you!” She said. “How have you been?”
“Very well, and you?”
“Great! How can I help you or have you gotten the job?”
I chuckled. “I don’t know. That’s why I’m here.”
She rolled her eyes. “Are you kidding me? It’s been over a month or is it two?”
“I thought my meeting with the CEO was a good sign,” I said.
“He always makes sure he meets everyone that interviews, sort of like his own personal mantra or something,” she said.
“I actually came to see a friend who works here. I just wanted to stop in and say hi,” I said.
“Oh really, who’s that? I’ll page whoever it is,” she said, picking up the receiver.
“It’s Tamuno Savage.”
“Tamuno?” Her brow furrowed.
“Tamuno – tall, bearded, goatee, well-dressed, from Nigeria.”
“Oh, you mean GQ, our part-time mail clerk? We all call him GQ here!” she giggled and pressed some numbers.
“Calling GQ in the mail room. Come up to the receptionist desk, please.” She looked up and smiled. “Take a seat please.”
“Thanks, but I’ll just stand. I’ve been sitting for a while. Did you say part-time mail clerk?”
“Yeah, GQ works in our mail room.”
I told her she was mistaken, that Tamuno Savage was a communications strategist. She laughed and told me to sit down, pointing to the brown cushioned chairs to her right. A few minutes later, I heard the squeaky tires before the figure hunched over the mail cart appeared. I let out a deep breath when the older man in a light blue coat looked up as he approached the counter. He informed the receptionist that Tamuno was on vacation and would not be back for a few more days. He turned the cart around and pushed it away slowly.
“Thank you,” I said to the receptionist.
“Sure,” she said.
I breathed in deeply and decided to risk asking the question. “Can I please see the HR manager?”
She looked unsure for a moment.
“It’s really against policy to walk in without an appointment.”
I told her I lost my phone and the manager must have been trying to contact me. She stared at me for a few seconds and then smiled.
“Oh, what the heck! I like you! It’s a good thing Pam’s my gal. Hold on.”
She picked up the phone. After a few laughs, she put the phone down and told me to take the elevator to the fourth floor where Pam would be waiting for me.
Pam smiled and shook my hand when I got there. I remembered her glasses almost falling off her skinny nose the first time, like it did now. I apologised for just showing up and told her about my lost phone. She was sympathetic, but puzzled.
“One of your references, he works here –”
“Tamuno? Ummm, GQ?” I asked.
“Yes, GQ. I gave him your letter of employment a week ago. When I didn’t get a call back after leaving several messages on your phone, or a response to the email I sent, I decided to do it the old fashioned way and write you an offer letter. GQ offered to take it when I dropped it off in the mailroom. She must have seen how my hands shook and the deep breaths I took because she asked me to come with her to her office. Once there, she printed a copy of my offer letter, which stated that I had until today to respond or else the offer would be rescinded. She said a verbal response would suffice and I told her I accepted the offer and was ready to start work immediately.
“Great! But orientation starts next week like the offer letter says. Please be here at 8 a.m. Congratulations!”
I could not get to work fast enough to tell Mr Theodore. He hugged me and announced a send-off party for me on Saturday.
About the Author
After graduating from Queens’ College, Nike Campbell-Fatoki started her higher education at University of Lagos, majoring in economics. The frequent union strikes prompted her to transfer to Howard University, Washington DC in 1996. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Economics, minor in Political Science in 1999. She worked part-time as she pursued her Master’s degree in International Development at American University, graduating in August 2001. In the same year, she got married and settled permanently in the US.
In 2009, she published Thread of Gold Beads, a historical novel about the fall of the Kingdom of Dahomey, which Nike traces her ancestry too. The book has been translated to French, and turned into a stage play. Bury Me Come Sunday Afternoon is Nike’s second book published by Quramo Publishing in July 2016.