For others, this was like every other morning. For Idara, however, this morning was different. It was her 5th day of going to TED Oil and Gas, in search of a job. Ted Oil and Gas was one of the biggest oil services companies in Nigeria. For many people, a job with Ted Oil was the dream job. Her best friend, Toke, was already working as a petroleum engineer in the company. In fact, she was the one who informed Idara of the office assistant vacancy at Ted Oil. Toke was already working there as a petroleum engineer; going to the rig with the other staff every fortnight.
Idara’s entire mind was set on today being her lucky day. She was lost in thoughts as she carefully applied red lipstick on her lips.
“My boss is very strict. He might complain about the color of that lipstick. It’s too bright”, Toke said as she combed her Afro hair backward.
“I don’t understand. Your boss has to tell us what we should look like?” Idara asked.
“Well, Mr. Femi Omari is very strict”, Toke replied as she applied petroleum jelly on her lips and parted them together.
“How do I look?” she asked, turning from the mirror to face Idara. Idara looked at her with admiration in her eyes. “Simple and hot. Feminine.”
“Yeah!” Toke said; picking up her handbag and her car keys from the bed before heading outside. “I am in the car,” she said.
Idara rushed after her and they both set out to the office at about 7:10 a.m.
Idara looked at her beautiful oval face again in the mirror as they drove along the busy Lagos roads. She was no doubt attractive – her satin skin glowed and her beauty was captivating. Idara was dark in complexion. She was slender with the gait of a runway model. Toke, on the other hand, was fair in complexion and chubby. In fact, her style was quite masculine. Little wonder people described her as a tomboy.
When they arrived at the office, Toke turned to Idara and said, “I really hope you get this job. The pay is really good and there are many other benefits too.” She took a pause then continued, “To work with the Managing Director, you have to be really patient. He has already fired 6 people in just 3 months.” Idara was visibly shaken but Toke didn’t seem to mind and she continued speaking.
“Well, that’s how hard this job is. But don’t worry, you will get a car, accommodation, the opportunity to travel to many countries for meetings and your hospital bills are on the company too.”
Idara covered her face excitedly.
“Toke, if I get this job ehn, I will be so happy. You won’t understand the amount of pressure my mum and sister have put on me to find a job. I don’t blame them, exactly. They need me to step up and help out with my sister’s school fees plus the house needs. Making up my mind to come to stay with you in Lagos was out of determination. Since I finished school in 2015, I have attended different interviews but nobody wants to give me a job without getting down with me.”
“No, no, Femi Omari isn’t that type of person o. He doesn’t have time for women at all. Don’t worry, you will get this job.”
“Amen o,” Idara said and hurried out of the car.
“Goodluck!” Toke’s voice sounded behind her as she walked hastily into the office premises for the interview.
Idara was the 5th person on the waiting list. She exhaled happily and settled in. There was no crowd today, unlike other days where she was number 99 and it never got to her turn.
A lady walked out of the interview room looking all flustered as she readjusted her dress. She bent over to pick her handkerchief from the floor; revealing her underwear before walking away smartly in her yellow stiletto heels.
“Miss Idara?” a tall, light-skinned man in a black suit called out, pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose as he scanned through the sitting area.
Idara stood up immediately and exhaled. She greeted the man with a nervous smile that looked more like a grimace.
“This way please,” the man said as pointed towards a large passage. He accompanied her into the office and exited before she settled in.
Idara widened her eyes at the office that looked like home in paradise. There was a large wooden polished desk in the centre of the room. On the left corner, there was a large cushion together with a small luxury glass table. Idara took in the beauty of her environment as she clutched the folder containing all her credentials and qualifications. She was extremely anxious and nervous at the same time. Idara had worked all through the week to perfect her application for this job. She just needed things to go as planned.
Then her eyes finally settled on the man she had only seen on Forbes Magazine and TV before now.
“Good morning sir,” she greeted boldly.
“Name?” he asked, his eyes still fixed on a magazine he’d been reading since she walked in.
“My name is Idara Edet Williams, sir.”
“Have you worked as an assistant before?”
“So how do you know the nature of this job?”
“I will undergo comprehensive training, sir. I have read about this and I know…”
“This isn’t what you read in school, young woman,” he cut in as he carefully placed the newspaper on the table and lifted his head to stare at her. She was adorable and he knew it. He hadn’t seen a woman that beautiful in his entire life.
“Sir, these are my credentials,” she said, pointing at the file in her hand.
“I don’t want credentials. This job is about competence and smartness. I have worked with so many young men and women who claimed they graduated with a First Class and Distinction, and in the end, they had nothing to offer,” he said in a deep British accent.
Idara cleared her throat and wiped her wet palms on her lemon dress. She looked up again and stared at him seated on the large leather chair behind a dark marble desk; so large it almost took the entire space of the office.
“Take a seat,” he muttered and turned to his phone.
A few minutes passed before his gaze returned to Idara. He looked straight into her eyes for a long time so that Idara wondered if they have met before. Such an influential young man would never know her, she resolved. They clearly belonged to different social classes. She was a young girl job hunting in Eket while he was a billionaire who owned oil firms and vessels all over Nigeria.
“Mr. Fayose will show you around my office. He will show you the cars and introduce you to the drivers. He would also train you for 2weeks and then, you can resume,” he finished slowly; breaking the silence with his eyes still locked into hers.
Idara gasped with shock.
“Oh my God! Thank you, sir,” she said as she stood to her feet and walked away. His eyes trailed her until she slammed the door.
Now outside the office, Idara remained visibly excited and surprised at the same time. She could not believe her luck and she hurried to find Mr. Fayose just in case her new boss decided to change his mind about her. He looked like the pretty erratic type.
“Sir, please are you Mr. Fayose?” she asked the man who had taken her in before.
“He wants you to train me,” Idara said nervously.
“Oh wow, congratulations! I hope you are ready to do this job? It’s hard,” the man muttered softly as he led her outside the office.
A young woman walked past them towards the lobby where other candidates were still waiting to be interviewed. She announced to the remaining applicants that someone had been taken. They all sighed, looking disappointed as they walked away.
“Mr. Femi uses Jar Bolt of Lightning on Mondays,” Mr. Fayose said. He paused and glared at Idara who was nodding at him. “Don’t stand there nodding at me. Get a pen and paper because if you miss out on this, you will be fired,” he said.
Idara rushed to her handbag and got a pen and paper. She placed the paper on top of a notebook.
Mr. Fayose cleared his throat and continued.
“On Tuesdays, he uses Joy by Jean Patou. On Wednesdays, he uses Caron Poivre. On Thursdays, Hermès 24 Faubourg. And on Fridays, Clive Christian No. 1. And on Saturdays…”
“He works on Saturdays?” Idara interrupted, gasping in surprise.
“Of course. The MD works even during the holidays. This is a private company. It is not owned by the government,” Mr. Fayose replied curtly as he continued. “On Saturdays, he uses Chanel Grand Extraordinary and on Sundays, he uses Baccarat les Larmes Sacrees de Thebes.”
“Sir please can you spell that?” Idara asked, looking directly at Mr. Fayose’s mouth.
“Miss, I am not a French man, I am Yoruba,” he shrugged and gave her a grin.