“How work?” Mama Esosa calls out to me as I hop by her shop. Yes!hop.I’ll get back to that.
I glare at her, grunt and continue hopping. I always patronise Mama Esosa to and from work most times so we were quite friendly with each other but today I am in no mood for pleasantries.
She hasn’t wronged me or anything. She just asked a question I did not want to hear or rather, if she knew the whole gist, I bet she won’t be asking me that for a while. I hold my six-inch pump in my right hand, tired of hopping which was obviously a very foolish thing to be doing- I just realize.
I bend over and take the other shoe off angrily. I feel like flinging them far, far away but for some reason I don’t. The heel of the shoe that has cost me my job had broke in half. How dare it!After all the trouble. Tough luck huh?Confused?Oh well, I am getting to that.
I resumed work on Friday morning hopeful, happy and most especially, comfortable in my flat shoes – my usual any day,any time. When my irrepressible immediate boss sauntered towards my desk, giving me her usual cocky look.
“Odewani” She drawled, picking on the sleeves of her lilac coloured chiffon gown as she stood in front of me trying really hard to make me seem unimportant. Typically, I barely looked up, I pretended to be very focused on the system in front of me as I typed away rapidly responding to e-mails.
I worked as a customer service representative at a highly reckoned fashion house/event planning organisation .
“We are expecting a really important client on Monday” Agatha blurted, rubbing her fore-finger and thumb together. “Very important” She stressed.
“Okay?” I asked impatiently,still typing.
She rapped her slender fingers on my table to get my attention, long enough for me to notice her teal coloured nails. I looked up.
She continued, satisfied that she had gotten my attention.“Which means you have to be up on your toes ,you obviously know the responsibilities that come with your role here,don’t you?”
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t” I replied gruffly. I knew that was rude but I couldn’t help it.
Thankfully,she didn’t quite catch the tone or pretended not to.
Are you kidding me???I thought to myself but I said this aloud ,” Yes, I do” I tried to sound as meek as I could. “I strive to be at my best every time”.
She wore the “Oh-really” kind of smile. I felt like smacking it off her face.
“Maybe..maybe not” She mumbled
“Maybe not?” I inquired abandoning my system, fully focused on her.
Now,she had a smirk on.Witch!
“Maybe not” Agatha reiterated.
I gave her a bewildered look. She chortled. She was definitely enjoying this.
“Well..We have a problem with your dress sense.”She stated matter-of-factly,regarding me.
I shifted my chair backwards and took a look at my denim shirt and knee-length printed shorts.
To be candid, I did think I looked too hot-to-handle, I even saw guys toppling over when I stepped out of my house(in my mind’s eye anyway) but seriously I looked very good for a Friday night out with le boo(if wishes were horses tho…) but come, what’s this girl saying?
I caught her just as she sneered at me.
“Wani” She shortened my name sweetly like a buddy would. Phony!!!!!
I raised my feet and glare at my coffee brown loafers.
“Mmhmm”She muttered “Those are totally wrong”
See me see wahala!!!
“Err..Agatha .I don’t understand oh”
“You do know how madam is about the way we look as ,you know, ambassadors of this organization”
I was tongue-tied. Does this control freak have any idea how much this pair cost me?!
She kept looking me over as she spoke like I was dressed like a tramp. Maka gini?
Finally,I slowly moved my lips and asked almost in a whisper.
“All these flat shoes you wear to work eh..Do not accentuate your outfit half the time,Wani”She said breathlessly .
“Why am I just hearing this?”I could not help but ask even though I totally disagreed.
She shrugged.“See ehn..On Monday just don’t put on flats alright at least.”
“Okay”I answer flatly, I couldn’t wait to get rid of her.
Ah!!She doesn’t give up easily. She went on,“I would gladly lend you any of my stilettos if you do not have any”
I open my mouth and stare .
“I mean any of your choice….”
I had reached my breaking point. I lunged and slap her across her cheek so hard she fell over. I imagined that. What I really did was nod.
“We need to make an impression. This client is quite thorough and fact is Mabel needs to seal this deal” She rattled on smugly as though she had just let me in on an info only she had been privy to.
I cleared my throat noisily.“Tall shoes on Monday. Noted.”
“Are you being sarcastic,Wani?”
“Of course not”I feigned a smile which lingered strictly on one corner of my mouth.
“Good. Do as you have been told” She said dismissively. I eyed her as she noiselessly walked off on her snake-skin shoes. Killer shoes, I must agree.
I sighed deeply. I did have a pair of shoe that was six inch high. Just one. I purchased them grudgingly for my sister’s wedding. I never tried them on again after that Saturday.
I just could not deal with anything an inch above the ground. I couldn’t.
Maybe I should not be working in a fashion house after all not even as a cleaner.
“Mscheeeeeeeew!”I hissed loudly
“Hey girl!What’s up with you?” Uzor my doe-eyed lover (he wasn’t aware though) asked as he walked in and right up to my desk, bending over. He was the head of digital marketing and he was so cool.
Uzor was also drop-dead gorgeous and breathing for me was quite difficult around him.
“Oh!it’s just Agatha-i-know-too-much”
He chuckled knowingly.
“What is it this time?”He asked stroking his well-groomed beard. The butterflies in my stomach did an award-winning somersault.
“Tall shoes!”I exclaimed
“Tall shoes?”He looked surprised.
I related the entire scenario to him.
He laughed out loud. I laughed too. His laughter was infectious. Maybe it was just me.
“Should not be a problem now. You are a chic.Which girl doesn’t wear “tall shoes”?He inquired, puzzled.
“Any particular reason?”He smiled,making me forget the color of the bracelet on my wrist.
“Makes me uncomfy that’s all”
“Ah!Oya!Let’s see, what would you do on your wedding day?” He asked and folded his arms.
I blinked twice. It had never crossed my mind and with the state of my love life presently that was decades away but hol’up !! Was Uzor trying to say something? Common hunk! Spill!!
“Till then..Abi is it compulsory?”
Boy! Did I want to kiss him!
I grinned sheepishly.
“Catch you later,Wani” He winked at me and stepped into his office.
Normally, I’d spend hours replaying the conversation between Uzor and I. In fact the entire scenario but now I had issues to tackle. Heel issues. Tall issues.
As incorrigible as Agatha was she did have a point, if so and so was a very important client that madam was eager to seal a deal with, Madam would want everything to be in order especially her staff . She was a perfectionist. I might not get to meet with whoever it was personally, because Madam and Agatha will be more than ready to mollycoddle the client but I did not want to take any chances.
A day on a six inch heel won’t hurt, I lied to myself.
The weekend rolled away faster than I had expected leaving me a bit nostalgic with the thoughts of the long hours on my bed. I finally laid hands on my grey coloured six inch shoe.
By Monday, I wasn’t feeling so confident when I got to work, to worsen matters I was running late and I totally forgot to take a pair of flats along with me. I steadied myself as I lumbered to my desk.
My jean clung tighter to my body than usual. Had I added a few more calories in just a few hours or was it the stupid shoes?
“This had better be worth it” I muttered to myself.
I sat heavily on my chair and hastily took them off. At least I could do with a little freedom while at my desk, no one would be looking anyway-until it was necessary.
Madam would come out to welcome her supposed ‘fat wallet’ clients. She did not need any representative for that. Thank goodness.
I worked for some time and then my mobile rang. I answered without checking the caller ID.
“Helleeeeewwww” I slurred
“Come to my office right away”
“Hello ma!okay ma..yes ma!” I fumbled as I tried to compose myself. I quickly slid my phone in my jean pocket and shifted my chair as I fought with my ‘tall shoes’. I raced to madam’s office. I stared at my hands in disgust, I had not carried my notepad and pen(which was a necessity when summoned by madam ).
I turned back to my desk and snatched the notepad and pen, I was backing the main entrance as I wheeled round and bumped right into this petite lady. I had no idea that she was right behind me.
Her face paled instantly. ”I am so sorry, so sorry” I pleaded.
Not a word from her. She stared at me in disdain. Then her eyes left my face to my feet, I followed suit and Ye gads! my foot had been on hers the whole time and I was not even aware.
I was ashamed and remember, I wore my ‘tall’ shoes. I opened my mouth and before I could say shoes, Madam and Agatha came bustling in from the other door.
“Mrs Daniels dear, I was not aware you’d be here this early” Madam gushed.
Mrs Daniels finally tore her gaze away from my face to Madam’s.
“Who is this?” She asked coolly, pointing at me but facing Madam and Agatha.
“She is one of my staff”
Mrs Daniels nodded and walked off and out of the office! I was in trouble!!
Madam hurried after her as Agnes wagged a finger at me and was hot on her heels.
Fifteen minutes later, I was still frozen to the spot, I heard Madam saunter back in, Agatha still behind her like a lap dog.
“What happened?” She queried, I could see she was trying hard not to strangle me at that moment.
I explained myself.
“Why did you even bother with shoes? You should have stuck to your flats” Agnes spoke up before Madam.
I stared at her in total disbelief. I ignored her and turned to Madam.
“I am so sorry ma..I really am. There won’t be a next time”
“Certainly” Madam nodded “You said, you were not aware that she had walked in?”
“Yes ma” I replied quickly. My palms were sweaty.
She threw her hands in the air and snapped, ”Then what are you doing here?”
She hissed, “Odewani, right?”
Madam fiddled with her phone for a few seconds and looked back at me.
“Please leave now. Come back tomorrow to meet with HR”
“I should leave??” I had to be sure.
She gave me a warning stare.
“Don’t worry. I will take care of her. Just keep trying Mrs Daniels” Agatha spoke up as usual never wanting to be left out. Madam hissed again and walked to her office.
Wait! Did I just lose my job because of a pair of shoes or was it negligence caused by these same shoes or was it something else?
Agatha’s shrill voice stopped my train of thoughts.
“You should not be here when I get back though”
I refused to believe it.
“Have I been fired?”
“If only you asked fewer questions..Just come and meet with HR tomorrow”
I could have Madam scream and shout at me but not this girl. I shut down the system and grabbed my bag and walked past her without uttering a word.
I staggered out of the premises. Hot breeze slapped my cheeks, it felt more like, hey! welcome to the labour market.
Maybe Madam might have a rethink..just maybe. I could recall the fate of the last person that was asked to meet with HR.
SNAP! At first, I thought it was my ankle that gave way, tired of being saddled with the burden of carrying my ‘tall’ shoes and heavy heart but I was wrong, my ‘tall’ shoes still had a lot of surprises for me.
The heel of one half of the pair had broken.
I was at my wits end at that point and I did the only thing I could – I laughed.
A meruwa rolling his truck of water stopped and stared at me for a while before going on. I paid no mind to him. I just laughed.
I took the shoe with the broken heel off as I continued laughing. I was about to cross to the other side of the road when I felt a warm hand on my arm. I turned, it was Uzor.
He looked worried. It felt good to know he was a bit concerned.
“Wani, Agatha said you sent away one of Madam’s top clients and she kicked you out”
“Oh really” I replied nonchalantly.
His lovely brown eyes stared at me pitifully.
“Are you okay?”
I roared. I was so pissed at Agatha, myself and the shoes. I just kept laughing.
“What’s funny?” He asked, irritated.
I forgot about not breathing in his presence, butterflies, everything and held both his shoulders.
“Boy! I just had an upHEELval day!”
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