Monthly Archives: December 2012

This Is Where I am At

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I am sorry that I do not come to this blog with fantastic news or glad tidings, but eff that. I did not begin this blog because I had something light and airy to say.

My typing and language today will look like puerile, forgive me. I am really upset.

It has been 8 months on this job and I can just about say I have seen it all. Today was probably the most humiliating day of my life.  As a backdrop to the story, I am the most senior manager in the place I work. As a matter of fact I am the person after the MD. That does not stop them from sending me on menial tasks and I do them, albeit unhappily, A cleaner/ messenger was very rude to me a few days ago while we were out loading some customized gift items for a client. I had given him 7000 naira to pay for the truck which he had used before and which cost 5500. I had to leave him to go to the bank, just further down the road from where we were to deliver the items, and that took a long time.

While there I received a call from the cleaner that they had reached the place and had begun to offload the items. Then he called me that they were done. Next thing I know he claims the driver of the truck said he was going to take 7000 naira. I was angry and said to him, I dont want to hear that., and hung up. He then called me again and said the money wasnt enough because he had to pay the driver 7000. I was angry because I saw this as a ploy to just make some money. I asked him if the driver wanted 10000 and he had 10000 would he give him? That he should sort that out.  Next thing I know this boy calls me and starts screaming that he cannot walk back to the office so I better come there and give him money for his transport. That he had no more money on him, I better come and give him money o! Just screaming. I was incensed, I waited calmly until I left the bank and then I called him and asked if he was drunk. Who are you shouting at like that, I asked? He just continued screaming.  I then called a staff at the client’s office to ask him to give the cleaner some money which I would pay back as soon as I arrived there. Imagaine my surrise when the client staff told me that the cleaner and the truck driver had left that place, TOGETHER, over 30 minutes ago! So I called the cleaner back and said, you know what? For this I am not coming to meet you anymore. FInd your way back to the office and pack your things and leave. You are fired.

An hour or so later, I got a call from one of the staff saying that the cleaner said he was stranded and that she said he should call me but he said he had no credit. I called him and asked where he was , he was not far at all from where I was so I told him to ask around for the place I was at and come there. He became rude again and said he did not know anywhere and could not search for anything. I said to him that I would not come looking for him because he was rude, so if he wanted to get home he should find me. He said he had an uncle there and he would meet him, he did not need my help. So I left him

Fast forward to today and my boss comes into the office and then tells the accountant to print the HR guidelines on termination of employment and give to me. To cut a really long story short, apparently, there had been lots of whispering and talk between my bosses and the staff about this issue. This is not the first time it will happen, they go to my bosses when they feel they can get out of some consequence or the other, and my bosses always overturn my say.

Anyway, this time, my boss then called me to his office, asked what happened, was obviously shocked by my side of the story, but said he did not think I had any reason to fire the guy since he was not performing his duty as a cleaner but just helping me. I pointed out to him that I was doing office- assigned duties not my personal errands. He said it did not matter, that I should just warn the boy and call him back. Apparently, the boy had been outside the gate all morning, most likely egged on by other staff to wait for Oga who had the final say.

Anyway, I went to the gate to speak to him. I started by asking him what he was doing outside and he said ‘ Madam, I want my money. Pay me!’ I said what money? He said his salary, after all he did nothing wrong, I was just misbehaving, making him talk, blah, blah. I said if that was what he wanted he should ask the accountant, since he obviously had no intention of being polite or addressing me properly. I then went inside and told my boss what happened. My boss called him in. Next thing I know my boss calls me, asks the boy to say what happened outside and asks me my own version. That is how we were there giving testimony. Me, the GM will speak, and the cleaner will say, Oga, please I am a man, I cannot tell lies., or she did not say that, etc. WHo does that?!!! I have to defend myself in front of my boss before the cleaner?

The week before, last Monday, my boss had called me into his office for a dressing down. He called me rude and lacking communication skills. The problem was that neither he nor his partner were around and there was no money in the office. I was working on 4 projects simultaneously for our clients so I was not around and we had issues with bank bottlenecks so I was funding it myself. Salaries were due and the people who could sign cheques were unavailable. In the best interest of the staff, I paid the salaries from my rent money, after excluding my two bosses and myself from the salary schedule. As if that was not enough, I was still being bothered on the same day salaries were paid for some transport money for the  staff to travel to a wedding. I gave my last 200k only for my boss to send me a bb message saying I should give them all the money they needed for the wedding and he would pay back the next day. (The next day was a Saturday, by the way) I said to him, that I had run out of money. He then said ‘ you were paid today. Give them your salary, and it will be given back to you’. I found that quite strange. I replied saying that I really had no money and that even if I had been paid it was my money and I had needs and a family that it might have gone to. He got angry and said I was talking nonsense about needs and a family when he has told me I willl get it back. That my boss was asking me to give him something and I was saying it was my own’. That I had better learn how to communicate.

So in his office, that Monday, 2 weeks later, he called me to tell me that he was the MD and that I should realise that while I am here.

Truth is, today for me was a real game changer. I have been here 8 months, in those months I have brought in at least 11 million naira into this company. In those same months, I have seen all sorts of humiliation, I will place rules that people will openly flout, because the boss has their ear, but I still have to bear the consequences. I have tried to create structure that the bosses themselves do not adhere to. And to add insult to injury, the terms on which we agree to for me to come here, have not been adhered to. I front for one of the partners. He works in a multinational and he awards contracts to his other company from there. I front as the owner of that company, I single-handedly execute all those jobs and yesterday, as we got paid he just took all the money and travelled. I still live in a room in the office as I have no house yet and have not had the time to search for one.

The only thing that is keeping me slightly happy is that I have not signed a contract with them. When I travel for this Christmas holiday, I do not know if I will come back.

 

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World AIDS Day

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So yesterday was the day everyone decided to talk smack about an illness and a condition they mostly have no idea of, and about how to prevent its transmission so it is limited to those who already have it and does not come in contact with their loved ones.

The thing with me is,  any public fora to discuss HIV and AIDS I take very personally- for obvious reasons. And yesterday was no exception. In this case however, I did not really see ignorance at play, what I sensed was a form of stigmatization and blame. Maybe it was just me, but that was how I felt.

The truth is this: there are many journeys that people can walk with you on, but the journey that is driven by HIV is one that you must walk alone. Alone. Even when your family rallies around you, even when your friends listen and support you, you will have to do it mostly by yourself. At least I have had to.  That is why all the messages around HIV center around how not to be careless enough to get it , how to ensure you do not spread it, how to keep it at bay. While this may be somewhat helpful to people who still have a lot to learn about the disease it does not do much to encourage those who already have it to be more open about it. The general message is ‘DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO STAY AWAY FROM ANYTHING RELATED TO HIV’ , and that definitely includes those who have the virus. I wept terribly yesterday when I read the different tweets, saw the campaigns and all the propaganda that was being spread. I felt more and more lonely and hopeless. I remembered that the clinic, where I had been receiving treatment for the virus in LUTH, burnt down (yes, it did), and I felt so alone. Because how do I tell all these people who are saying things like ‘ a little wisdom can save you a lifetime of heartache’ and ‘HIV can change your life for the worst’ that I already have the virus.

So on this WORLD AIDS day, while you spread the word and not the virus,  I urge you to open your minds to accommodate people to whom the virus was first spread. A WORLD AIDS DAY, where we can show, that there are frightened, happy, brave, beautiful, sad, funny, fat, thing, REGULAR people, living their lives, but with HIV, not because they wanted it so, but because that is how it is, would be a good day.

 

Joie