You’ve always been the one in charge. Oh, yes. You came into the world on a high note, swinging a golden conductor’s baton all the way down the birth canal. And life as it should re-organized itself by bending to your formidable will. Sweet.
Sure, some folks were trampled on during your march to the top. Big deal. They were just collateral damage in a numbers game. Frankly, it’s easy to sleep at night when all you see are numbers. Thinking about faces can be such a downer. And as everyone knows, you’re all about the up and up.
Last year, your team contributed to the company’s five percent lay-off rate. You told yourself it’s a cold hard world before skipping off to spend the bonus check you got for maintaining the all-important bottom line. Things and people get eaten every day. Nature’s way of maintaining the status-quo. It only sucked if you were way down on the food chain.
And then one morning, IT showed up at the office. Starched, neatly pressed, all straight white teeth. Kissing up, kissing down. Those massive lips. Despicable. As IT walked by your tiny pod to the corner office that had been promised to you, the brisk pace of shiny wingtip shoes shouted, ‘I’m so better than you.’
For the first time in years, you remembered what’s its face. He had slunk out of the office with two cardboard boxes a year after you’d waltzed in with a brand new Ivy League degree and those fancy PowerPoint presentations. Ha, Johnny Old-Timer. He’d given the company thirty-five and a half years of great service and he didn’t even get an ‘I was forced to retire early’ farewell cake. Cold.
That day, in the spirit of being the compassionate team player, you had walked Johnny out to his panel van. Just before he drove off, he gave a weary grin and tapped you on the arm. “Son, never forget that we’re all dispensable,” he’d said. “Don’t let this place consume you. Good luck.” Luck had nothing to do with it you thought as you strutted back to the office. You had the “It” factor.
For a brief moment, your trembling fingers curled around your metal three-hole paper puncher as you wondered how far you could throw it down the hallway. The image of IT standing by the office door crumpling to the floor brought a deep satisfaction. Booyah!
The part of you still mildly shocked by the viciousness bubbling under your well-moisturized skin made you reach for your bottle of cucumber and mint infused water. You told yourself the thoughts were brought on by dehydrated brain cells. The doctor already said you were a triple-bypass procedure waiting to happen. Too many late nights. Too greasy food. Too little exercise. No point in hastening it along.
You swung your chair around in the direction of IT’s office and imagined sharp teeth snipping at your heels. Someone’s hungry. A cloud of panic descended. In your head, you’re scrambling up a chain ladder. One step up and your foot hung in the air. What happened to the missing rung? No time for questions. Run, baby, run! Old-Timer knew what he was talking about.
Post image by hans van den berg via Flickr
About the Author
Yejide Kilanko was born in Ibadan, Nigeria. She is a writer of poetry, fiction and a therapist in children’s mental health. Yejide currently lives with her young family in Ontario, Canada. Her debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path, was published by Penguin Canada April 2012. Her second novel, A Deep And Distant Shore, will be published by Penguin Canada in 2015. Please visit www.yejidekilanko.com