I was seated at my desk catching up on happenings around the world when my Chief Executive Officer called for me. It was rare for him to ask to see anyone in person. Being such an impersonal man, the telephone was his best mode of communication. His secretary, Marianne, was on the phone when I entered. With the phone wedged between her shoulder and neck, she signalled me to go ahead in.
He was at his desk, furiously typing away at his keyboard. He offered me a seat, his eyes still fixed on his monitor. I greeted and took the seat. It took him well over ten minutes to respond to my greeting. All I did during that time was stare at my fingers, regretting that I had not carried my phone along. I had the option of paying more attention to the pictures hanging on his wall. But who would want to stare at pictures of his boss speaking into different colours of microphones at different events? He finally took his eyes off the screen, stretched his hand to shake me with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, and went straight to the point.
“Mr. Mensah, I’ll need you to fill in for me next week at the Annual Architect’s Conference. You’ll have to present a paper on my behalf.” His huge voice belied his tiny structure. I always wondered how such sounds could emanate from a man his size.
“Wow”. That was all I could manage once I got my thoughts in check. This was not the time to be analysing his vocals.
“I know you are probably thinking this is above you, but trust me, I thought long and hard about it before deciding on you.” He went ahead, not giving me the chance to put my thoughts together to say something sensible.
“Jean, being the next in line should have been the one to go, but there is another equally important meeting around the same time.” He handed over a file to me. “This should help you prepare. Let me know if you need further clarification. You can leave now.” He did not give me the chance to say anything. I thanked him for the opportunity and hurried out.
Marianne’s desk phone was ringing when I went past her desk. Seconds later, she ran after me. “Mr. Daniels wants to see you.”
This time around, he did not offer me a seat. “I forgot to mention that you will have to go along with one of the junior staff. The Human Resource Manager will have to decide which of them goes with you. Speak with him and let me know by tomorrow whom he decides on. That’ll be all”.
I made a beeline for the HR manager’s office. It took him less time to make his choice than it took me to explain why he had to make the choice. “You’ll have to go with Ralph”, he announced. I heaved a sigh of relief. I’d been praying tongues in my head that he’ll not choose Amy. My prayers had worked! I headed back for my desk, and got so engrossed in getting myself ready for the trip I forgot to check on Berth until close of work. I called her before leaving the office. From the look of things, I was very likely to meet her at home since she was now going to start packing. I figured I could try convincing her to reconsider her decision to move out. I stopped on my way home and got some pizza with a double serving of her favourite topping. We’ve been together for close to three years, but I was yet to wrap my head around how she could enjoy pizza with pineapple toppings all in the name of Hawaii.
I let myself in and placed the pizza on the dining table. She gave me a hug when she came out after I called out for her. Nothing looked amiss. I started nurturing hopes that she’ll inform me of a change of mind, but she didn’t. The look of delight on her face on sighting the pizza could not be missed. “Oh darling! You got my favourite!”
That got me a quick kiss on the lips. From what most guys tell me, the only things that could elicit such delight from their wives or girlfriends were usually presented in cute tiny boxes, not pizza boxes. I seem to have found a different kind of woman for myself. One that would show appreciation for the most mundane thing you got her!
She went on, “I had wanted to eat after packing, but you know I hate cold pizza.” She went ahead to open the box and took a bite.
“You can always heat it in the microwave later on,” I suggested, and regretted the words once they were out of my lips.
The next slice stopped midway to her mouth. “Do you want me out that fast?” She laughed before I realised she was teasing, but I still went on to let her know how I really felt. “Berth, you know I love you and would move heaven and earth to get you to stay.”
“Bill, we already talked about this, and I’m not backtracking.” She said it in such a gentle way, but the finality behind the words was unmistakable.
“Ok, whatever makes you happy dear.”
“Do you think I’m happy to find myself in this situation?”
I could tell she was slowly getting worked up. I had to diffuse the situation.
“No, I know you’re not happy, and I’m really sorry. But trust me, it won’t be long, I’ll get that smile back on your face.” I walked towards her and kissed her on the forehead. With my arms around her, I looked her straight in the eyes as I said, “I need one thing from you.”
“What could that be?” She enquired.
“Why don’t you stay till the weekend? It’s late tonight.”
She burst into a fit of laughter. “Nice try Bill!” She said between her laughter fits. “I agree it’s late, so I’ll leave tomorrow Wednesday.”
“I’m asking for you to stay till the weekend because I’ll be going to the States on Sunday for the Annual Architects’ Conference and -”
“And you’re now telling me?” She cut me short.
“I only found out this afternoon. Why would I keep this away from you?”
“Ok, that is a good enough excuse. I’ll stay till Sunday then.”
“Aren’t you a darling?” I gave her a hug and went for a quick shower.The rest of the evening went well. We spent quality time together talking about anything that came to mind. When I asked what I should get her from the States, all she said was “Anything, dear”. I already knew what I was going to get her though. I couldn't wait for her to fall asleep so I could measure her ring finger. We both fell asleep on the couch in the living room, and it wasn't until sometime after 2am when I woke up to use the washroom that I woke her up and we moved to the bedroom. I did not forget to take my measurements before waking her up though.