Monday, 13 July 2015

Fucking Interns: African Job (episode 5)

Author's Note: Hi, you are reading an account inspired by true-life events. Please send all feedback to kobbytettehgyampoh@gmail.com if you want to be replied. But anyway, hope you enjoy. Thanks.




DAY 35
8.45 hrs.
In the West of Accra, Osu to be precise, a pair of shiny Italian shoes walked out of Melting Moments. Clop-clop, they slammed against the hard pavements as they headed up North. Over these shoes were perfectly-pressed khaki pants that bore no signs of ruffle like normal Khaki would. They probably had the name Gabbana all around their waistband which was tucked into a grey sleeveless cotton vest. Hands that balanced a plastic tray of takeout coffees, expertly brushed off dust on a shoulder sleeved and caged in a fitting checked shirt.

This boy was me, and sometimes I wished my mornings began like the scenes of The Devil Wears Prada showcasing Andrea’s transformation into a glamazon. But of course, my life was simpler and more hectic to seem like I was a living, walking magazine cut-out. As though synced with my thoughts, my phone trilled with the smug face of my boss stretched across the contours of its screen. Mental Note: Must find a nice, suiting image of the devil to replace this image.

“Winfred,” I answered the call, interrupting his tirade. “I’m practically running now.” I threw in some heavy breathing to back up my lie. “Your coffee would get to… huh-huh… you, before… huh-huh… you could say Joe.”

“Joe.” He deadpanned on the other end and disconnected before a witty reply flew off my lips.

“Slave-driving, stuck-up son of a bitch.” Maggie appeared behind me, plucking her coffee from the bunch. “Still swearing at you for not getting his coffee on time, isn’t he?”

I nodded, proffering the bagels I’d picked up at Melting Moments. “Winfred would always be Winfred.” I smiled, eyeing her outfit. Just as Maggie would always be an inappropriately overdressed colleague, my thoughts were hidden behind a smile when really all I wanted to do was drag my nails down my face at the sight of her. Today, she was a cross between an athlete—from the trainers she wore, a ballerina—from the tutu she wore and a bride-to-be in black—from her no-nonsense look that said, Do not dare comment on my outfit.

I quickened my steps to rid myself off her. No, I didn’t want to be caught walking alone with a freak of nature.

Thankfully, a taxi screeched to a halt by us, and out came Justin and Wendy who I’d dropped calling Perfect Interns after they’d decided mingling with us was the only way some of their flawlessness could rub off us—their words.

Coffees were pulled off my plastic tray.

“Guys,” I spoke just for the sake of having a mouth and deciding to put it to good use, “I think it’s about time I stopped doing your coffee-runs for you, don’t you think?”

Wendy rolled her eyes as her puffy-Jolie-like lips covered a portion of her sugar-crusted donut, and shared a look with Justin that if translated, would sound like, this fucking dude doth complain too much. “You make it sound as though being a butt intern is a bad thing.”

“Wendy, I’m no more a butt intern. I was called a dark horse by Claudia-frigging-Sharpe, editor-in-chief of Glitz…” My steps slowed a bit as I shockingly caught the three mouthing my words as though they could just finish off my sentence without my help. OK, so maybe I’d pointed this out too many times in the past.

“You make it sound as though there were no perks in being a butt intern.” Justin corrected. I knew he did this just so I wouldn’t have to complete my sentence, because—let’s be honest—I would have gone on anyway even if they imitated with voiceless speech. It wasn’t everyday an intern was called a dark horse by editor in chief, and though this happened days ago, I could still get off by repeating it in the confines of my room. I am a dark horse. I am a dark horse. I am a dark horse—Oops. I plastered a hand on my flap.

“Being a butt intern, wasn’t so bad.” I conceded as an afterthought.

“Really?” Maggie cut in. “Because half of the time you made stabbing signs at Wendy… after she’d demand a dozenth time you confirm her manicure appointment.”

I smiled at Maggie in way that said, that wasn’t necessary but thanks for bringing it up anyway, I could always count on you to keep my weak killer instincts a secret. If Wendy heard this, she was too busy stuffing her heart-shaped face with her donut to react. “It wasn’t bad, really.” I resumed. “You really begin observing things with so much time on your hands.” Justin made the universal hand gesture for 'elaborate'. “OK, first you see, Selfina. You can’t miss her. She’s always taking selfies every minute.”

Justin jutted out his phone and together all three of them made mock-selfie poses in the way, hmm, Selfina actually did. I took it they’d already noticed Selfina.

I racked my brain to think of something else they might not have observed being all Perfect Interns when I was fuming anytime I was sent on an errand. “Oh, there’s also Bootylicious Penny who’s always putting up a show for the geeky guys in the IT department—"

“And one copy intern sitting by me who always looks drawn to her butt.” Maggie interrupted. Mortified, I fixed my glance ahead in time to see an old woman being  helped across the street by a little Girl in school uniform. How sweet. “Who doesn’t know Bootylicious Penny?” Maggie continued. “Although to be frank, I just know her from behind? I have never stopped to wonder if she ever has a face.” We stood by as cyclist rang his bell to pass just as Wendy was saying how much she hated Bootylicious Penny for having the butt she’s always dreamed of and Justin going on about his failure to understand why I and the guys from the IT department would be so fixated on some big piece of flesh. Big piece of flesh—there goes his answer.

“Oh, so are there no perks in being a butt intern, after all?” Justin asked teasingly, oblivious to the look Wendy and I shared wondering why he was swishing his bottom like he was Tyra Banks on a Victoria Secret catwalk.

“I believe so.” I answered and quickly changed the subject to the reason why we’d all made an effort with are outfits today. Long story short, Tracy Bloom (whose real name was something vile but Ghallywood would rather prefer no one mentioned it) was making an appearance at Glitz. Dubbed Ghana’s Joan Rivers, Tracy Bloom knew how to make someone who felt good about themselves believe they looked like shit and then some. Everyone wished she was six-feet-under like the woman she was trying to imitate, really. But no one dared say, that’s why we were all supposed to give her a warm Glitz welcome and ‘dress like we were playing a part in a relative’s wedding’, HR had advised.

"Tell HR for my mother's wedding to a fetish priest, I wore only a string of beads." My mum had said this morning when I laid out lots of outfits on my bed asking if she'd allow me to wear any for a relative's nuptials. I brushed the thought away with a smile.

“I look great, don’t I?” Wendy asked.

“Yes.”

“Should I be worried?” She furtively mouthed at Maggie’s answer. Justin and I shook our heads in response.

“If there’s anyone who should be worried I think it’s Bummy near the building.” Maggie began as we drew nearer to the Glitz skyscraper, chin-pointing our bum friend right at the entrance abusing passersby if they failed to drop anything in her coin-box. “I mean, should anyone be allowed to dress like that and still be counted human.  I just wish Tracy Bloom hasn’t seen her already, she’d probably dive into the street and join the likes of her contemporaries.”

Pot. Kettle. Black. I thought, watching the other two fighting off giggles. Pot. Kettle. Black, Pot. Kettle. Black.

We could have said our ‘Hi’s to Bummy which really meant dropping a few notes in her coin box (—"Because I insist people who care about my well-being should do better than brass."). But she was busy chasing up a well-dressed man who hadn’t spared some change. So we all bundled into the ground floor’s elevator with other co-workers who really looked smartly-dressed smiling at one another but had deep-seated feelings Tracy Bloom would pass a comment like, ‘When I see you, I’m reminded why people should never dress their pets, but I’m too kind to say so.’

The elevator stopped at the Intern Floor and all the interns, who were just all four of us, stepped out of it. We could have headed straight to our smattering of cubicles in the copy department, but we stood rooted in our positions sensing a coat of gloom in the atmosphere. We’d have thought we’d had the wrong floor and had walked into someone’s funeral, but we saw Selfina holding up her phone and making selfie faces in between crying. What the heck was happening?

We looked at each other curiously. That was until we saw Tracy Bloom with a camera crew headed for us, feeling all commando for reducing a whole room of grown-ups to tears.
The celebrity tv-show host cast one look at us and we all run out of her way. That was relatively easier than bawling our eyes out and wailing. But Maggie was too late to get the signal.

“Oh, my dear,” Tracy who was as tall as Wendy(—not tall enough, that is) spoke as she eyed Maggie’s outfit. The catty fiftyish woman who was really eighty-two turned to her crew with a derisive laugh. “Christ, look what the paramedics dragged here.” She turned back to Maggie. “Hon, you… are…” We braced ourselves for the worst. “… I do not know what to say. Are you a casualty of a motor accident? Because when I look up my nose all I see is a wreck.”

“Oh sweets, the kind everyone wants to be in, I hope.”

Tracy Bloom halted in her tracks to the elevator. She spun towards Maggie, she’d have looked surprised anyway if she didn’t have the permanent look of surprise only expert plastic surgeons could give. No one actually talked back anytime Tracy Bloom told them they looked like shit. But Maggie didn’t know that, because clearly she didn’t watch any of Tracy Bloom’s How Not To Look Like Shit shows.

“OK, so I’m just going to pretend I didn’t hear that darlin’, and ask,” she signalled her crew behind her so a mike was shoved in her face, then spoke, “describe your sense of style in three words.”

Maggie smiled sweetly, then drawing the mike from the celebrity host’s lips she was brisk and—oh, so—accurate, “Fuck. You. Too.”

9.30 hours
Thanks to the internet age, and the tendency of us Millennials to upload anything ranging from cute pics of our cats, the food we ate last night and embarrassing videos, Maggie showing Tracy Bloom where to stick it ("Up your shrivelled arse") became a YouTube sensation.

Overnight the copy interns had become popular as everyone was coming over to our department squealing anytime Maggie posed with them in a selfie, or spanked their huge butts as they returned to their cubicles. Delight.

I got off my cubicle, holding Winfred’s coffee at Justin and Wendy. They stared at me with a look that said, Lucky Bastard. They’d do anything to get away from listening to Maggie, relate to admirers, hours on end, how she’d reduced Tracy Bloom to something out of Lilliput (—"Because when I see you all I see is that girl from nowhere.").

I took the elevator up the Editors’ floor, bracing myself for another tantrum by Winfred who would for the umpteenth time ‘forget’ he’d actually told me to keep his coffee waiting as he had a pressing meeting to attend to.

As I drew nearer to his door, I listened in on someone cachinnating.

I could tell how Winfred could ‘forget’ he had an important meeting, because staring through the peep created by his slightly parted door, I saw a woman I knew all too well with her shaved legs crossed on my boss’ desk throwing her head back in window-snapping laughter. I’d known my boss for a month, and the only joke he could manage was something sarcastic about firing me which really he only sniggered at. I peered into the room to find if there was another party I wasn’t seeing. But, nope, my boss was capable of reducing the fashion-director who everyone called Cruella de Ghana because of her sheer creativity when it came to being, well, cruel, to fits of laughter. By this time, I was really intrigued to know what my boss was telling her.

“I tell you, those fucking interns hate me so much they’d plot my death, kill me and still hate me afterwards.” Winfred spoke. He wasn’t wrong. We hated him with such passion.

“You know what they’d do if they find out you are keeping from them the style guide?” Cruella de Ghana asked.

“How could they even find out about the style guide?” Winfred asked, slightly infuriated. “As far as they are concerned, in three months they’d be kick-arse copy editors.”

I did not realize I was crushing the coffee in a death-grip till the liquid spilled onto my hand. Rage was bubbling inside me like hot magma beneath the earth. What the heck was a style guide? And why would Winfred be keeping it from us? Questions I didn’t need answers to.

I resisted the urge to hurl the coffee in his office and bang the door shut. But no, I reasoned, handing in my notice would make things more official. I dropped the coffee into a bin and walked towards the elevator. All the while, wondering how I should be explaining to Maggie and the others that I was quitting and they should do the same if they didn’t want to be wasting their time in this shit-hole anyway.

If I needed evidence my boss was straight from Hell, this was it.

11.45 hours
Minutes later, I was battling with how to write a goddamn resignation letter without including the real reasons for my resignation. Should I go all like, you stupid moron, ha, I found out you were not teaching us anything worthy, or, I could sound more professional by just writing ‘Fuck You’ in increasing fonts till the A4 sheet was out of space?

Ugh. This was all so hard. And what with the other interns looking so focused on their computer screens editing (—I wonder what Winfred would call it) material the boss had emailed to us. Should I break it to them they were doing no such thing as editing? I found myself asking as I watched Wendy crack her knuckles and smiling contently, then thought against it. They were basking in the glow of their computer screens happy with what they were doing. I couldn't take that away from them.

So instead, I found myself Googling what a style guide was. Lots of results cropped up. "Did I mean Gangnam Style which was a popular dance in Korea?"—scroll, "Style Guide was a literary exposé of the fashion industry written by a nudist who would rather die than wear fur, or just any kind of clothing—picture to your left."—OMFg, Scroll!! "Style Guide was a detailed account of the mode a particular publication employed to keep its content in line with its decided format."

I stood up from my desk, reeling in shock. So practically if we didn’t have the style guide, all we were editing wasn’t ever going to end up in the magazine? This piece of info did nothing to abate my hatred for my boss. 'Fuck you, Fuck you, Fuck you' it had to be when I got back.

“Taking an early lunch?” Justin wanted to know. Too busy to look up from his computer screen like all the others.

“I’ll be right back.”  I responded and walked off quickly to the elevator.

12.30 hours.
“So you are saying this might be the last time I’d be seeing you?” Bummy asked as we stayed in her shed eating dry cakes and artificially-coloured drinks that were Ghana’s sad excuse for orange juices—my treat. I’d run down to her upon needing someone to hear me out. Someone who wouldn’t be remotely hurt by my reasons for resignation. And someone who wouldn't be hurt they couldn't edit (—"Heck, the only thing I try to edit are the bits and pieces of my unhealthy, kinky sex life—spank me Christian Grey!")

“Yes.” I said hotly, letting her have the last of my cake she’d been eyeballing. “Though it hurts, really.” I confided. “To think I was on to something here. To think I’d found my place.”

“Who’s your boss? I need someone to hate anyway.”

As if sensing his name being mentioned, Winfred walked out of the Glitz building with Cruella de Ghana who was still laughing. What's funny bitch? What's funny??

“There he is.” I chin-pointed him, a deadly look in my eye as I watched them flag down a taxi. I could hurl our empty bottles at them if not for my amount of self-control... and most importantly my sad aim.

“This guy?” Bummy was laughing. I threw her a questioning look. “How do you say obsessive compulsive in Spanish?” I shook my head hopelessly as I watched my boss and his equally evil friend speed off in a taxi. “He’s so pitiful I do not even bother asking him for money. I spend minutes watching him rush back to and fro a taxi with a planner in hand reciting his to-do-list or something then stamping his feet hard on the pavement when he’s not getting it right.” She paused to laugh. “I know its mean laughing at him, I know. I’m hardly the epitome of proper…”

I tuned her out. Because a thought occurred to me. An idea I really wouldn’t have thought of if I wasn’t so desperate. What if I didn’t leave Glitz? I’d invested so much to just hightail it. What if I could just get my hands on the style guide somehow? And right now, I was missing that opportunity sitting with Bummy and listening to her go on about… about… Oh, who cared!

“Bummy, it was all so nice catching up,” I interrupted her flow, stepping out of her shed. “But I must run!” I sped off, not before she’d shouted after me:

“Yeah, Stephenie Meyer, we don’t want the sun all up in your face!”

13.45 hours.
I’d been foolish to think I’d ever find anything at Winfred’s office. I had searched everywhere, under the sofa backed against a wall in his office, the potted plant at a corner, the crevices of his keyboard. There was no Style Guide. I believed, however, it was in his office. Somewhere in the row of drawers I’d tried to yank but were locked.

I kept staring at these drawers as I wondered what my next move would be. It was obvious I had to steal a key. But, how could I? I stood up from his swivel chair, thinking how unfair it was that I was racking my brain while the other interns worked tirelessly on something that wouldn’t even be glanced through anyway.

I figured out the only way I could pull this off was being part of a team. A team that brought ideas to bring Winfred down. He might think he had one over us, but see who would have the last laugh after all this. It wouldn’t be Cruella de Ghana, we could assure him. What's funny bitch? What's funny??

Walking into the intern floor, I realized I’d be the one to be the bearer of the bad news, crushing their dreams. The thought of just keeping my mouth shut was daunting. But what the hell! They weren’t exactly chasing after their dreams looking hard at articles that were useless.

“Guys,” I drew their attention thumping my hands on my cubicle. “I found out our internship was all a lie.”

Surprisingly, I found Wendy’s lips expanding. Watching the others, I found they were grinning too. I turned to look behind me, wondering if I was missing something hilarious. But all I saw was Selfina heading our way probably to faff over Maggie. I gave her the stink eye to show this wasn’t the time or even the place, goddammit, why shouldn’t she be working like all the other interns in her department? Why was she so narcissistic to think life was all about selfies? And why weren’t my colleagues understanding the gravity of what I was saying? “Guys, Winfred has been lying to us, all this while!” I repeated airily.

“Kobby, relax.” What? What?? My brain gave off shockwaves listening to Justin. How the hell am I supposed to relax? ”We were going out for lunch till Bummy told us about it. She said we’d need to hold your hand.” He stood up, the others stood with him. They stretched their hands to me.

I wondered if they’d all gone bonkers. Trust Bummy not to deliver such news with care. She should have rubbed their arms, she should have hugged them, she should have allowed them cry on her chest as she patted their backs. These things were vital if you were the bearer of bad—

“Oh, crying out loud, Kobby!” Maggie yelled to cut into my thoughts. “I can’t hold my pee for too long. Just get into the circle and let’s figure out how we can steal the Style Guide!”
Oh. I quickly joined in. “So what’s the plan?”

DAY 36
8.45 hours

One, we get bummy to nick Winfred’s keys.

“How do we get Bummy to steal Winfred’s keys?” I had demanded when Justin had suggested this.

Justin had rolled his eyes at me, giving the others a look that if translated would sound like: Guys, just stab the motherfucker already. Wendy had been happy to oblige, giving me a look that described just how much of a thicko she’d always thought I was. “Kobby, poor people take stuff that are not rightfully theirs. Everyone has known this since the French Revolution.”

We'd all arrived at work early. The Intern Floor bore no signs of life and it seemed like we were the only ones around rows of empty cubicles. The others seemed not to have noticed this and were all whispering over each other discussing the other things on the plan they’d outlined. I was just lying back in my seat, thinking, seriously?! As if the first item on our absurd list had already been ticked off! If teamwork had felt like a good idea then, now I was considering throwing a spanner in the works.

“Maggie.”

I looked up from the group to a familiar voice. “Taylor.” One of my closest friends from the fashion department who’d also struggled to redeem herself as a butt intern was standing by our cubicles. You could tell she hadn't had any sleep since 2001. I wondered if she'd been up all night clubbing, like we used to. But even Icona Pop couldn't make you look this exhausted. It had to be her boss.

“Kobby.” She cut me off. “I wish I had the time to speak but... you know Cruella.” She turned away from me. "Maggie."

“Yeah, I’m her.” Maggie was annoyed from the slight distraction.

“I know." Taylor roofed her eyes, speaking in break-neck speed, "Your vid yesterday sort of made your head what every fashion elite wants to drink from. Gimme your hand, Cruella wants to speak to you.” She was off, dragging a reluctant Maggie away with her.

12.00 hours
So it turned out the bum had got the keys. Or whatever Justin kept waving in my face claiming I must accept he was the smartest boy that ever lived.

“You are the smartest boy that ever lived.” I had said.

“Not in my exact words, Kobby. How am I supposed to know you are not being sarcastic?” He had replied.

I had stuck my tongue out at him. The memory made me grin. Until someone slammed my cubicle.

“This is blackmail!” Maggie screamed. We all stared at her, stunned. She noticed the look of concern that lay beneath our bewildered expressions and paused. “Lemme guess, we are waiting for Winfred to go out to lunch?” Wendy nodded waving the bunch of silver keys at her. “Anyway, can you guys believe Cruella threatened to fire me if I do not apologize to Tracy Bloom? An apology that just doesn’t end with sorry but getting on Take A Look At Me Now?”

Take A Look At Me Now was one of the shows Tracy hosted. Similar to How Do I Look on Style Network, a contestant with a bad sense of personal style would be transformed right in the eyes of a live audience who judged every process of the transformation by booing or yaying.

“Do I look like I dress to depress?” The clincher of the show was when the contestant renounced her personal style saying the words, I am blah blah, and I used to dress to depress. We could see why Maggie would get livid by that.

“No, no, no.” Our answers fell out of our lips too fast.

“Great. But I have to do it, because if I do not, I’d get fired.” She proffered out tickets. “They even gave out these so I give it to any related person who’d want to watch this transformation, are you guys coming?” She didn’t wait for our answers. She dropped each on everyone’s desk.

“Does this mean you wouldn’t be helping with the plan?” Wendy asked a little too excited. Even though Tracy Bloom was Botoxed, looked like shit and would probably die anytime soon (we've studied this trend!), Maggie could do with her knowledge of what was stylish and what just looked like something you prised off the back of a hobo.

“I guess. But call me if you need anything, I'd run back if I have to.” Maggie was off, yanking a portion of a her tutu from her bum.

We cringed. Together we took our smartphones and deleted her number.

Have your way with her Tracy Bloom!

13.00 hours
On our way to pick up lunch, we received a call from Bummy. "Mum, dad, I'm lost and I want you to come get me. Winfred, Maggie and Cruella have left me here and I am so sad. Come soon. Now I'm handing the phone over to the kind stranger who made this call possible."

Maggie texted the two were heading with her for the show to pose as the relatives who just wanted her to stop wearing these clothes because it made them cry and couldn't she see how pretty she was, watching her self-destruct would be the last thing their mother would have wanted were she alive. Shit like that.

We were running back to the building. This being the breakthrough we needed we decided we weren't delaying in our quest to steal the Style Guide despite the fact that we could as well unbraid Wendy's hair (—like she'd suggested) and still be in time to steal the Style Guide before Winfred returned. Because after all, these relatives would be asked to use their own pocket money (—we are in Ghana after all) to go scouting shops for collections they thought their sister could be wearing.

That was until my phone began ringing inches away from the French Doors that marked the building's entrance.

The others run into the building without waiting for me. So much for team spirit. It was little things like these that touched me.

Taylor was taking up space on my screen.

“Kobby, whatever you guys are up to, stop it now!”

I was surprised at her request, which was more of a command come to think of it. “Why, how do you know we are up to something?” I asked, a bit irked.

“I overhead Winfred say something to Cruella.” She spoke over me before I could ask what. “He said he saw you enter his office yesterday, he watched you search around. He watched you pull out his drawers and now he knows his keys are missing and he’s sure you have them.”

“What? How?” Bummy over the street stared at me with a look of concern. Always watching out for when I'd receive the call informing of my lottery winnings.

“He has cameras all over his office, Kobby. Ever since he was sure you’d been stealing up articles from his PC and comparing edited versions with their originals…”

But I’d already tuned her out.

He has cameras all over his office, Kobby. I immediately thought of Selfina taking so many pictures of herself. I wondered if Winfred had so many pictures of me turning over his office in frustration as I searched for the style guide.

He has cameras all over his office, Kobby. Justin and Wendy didn’t know this. And they were running up to his office this minute about to walk into a trap.

Oh no.

TO BE CONTINUED HERE! READ CONTINUATION HERE






1 comment:

  1. Cool post. I liked the cliffhanger ending a lot. Looking forward to seeing how this all plays out in your next post.

    ReplyDelete

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