Elmina was scurrying for the meeting and needed some documents from Modupe, but Modupe was not in her office. She was confused. She called Modupe’s number and the phone rang. The handset was right there in her office. “Why can’t she just carry her handset with her?” Elmina cursed. She walked out of Modupe’s office in frustration.
She walked along the long corridor and saw Modupe coming from a distance. “Thank God she’s here finally.” Elmina thought. She decided to wait for her, but Modupe just walked past her.
“Good morning Modupe.”
“Good morning” she replied and kept on walking.
“I can’t deal with this. I certainly can’t deal with this.” Elmina spoke to herself. “I am going to report her straightaway.”
Modupe walked past Tobi who waved at her but she didn’t wave back. “She’s weird” Tobi thought. She walked into her office; on her desk were five post it notes left for her. The post it notes all read the same message, ‘please we need the documents to prepare for the meeting.’ She picked up her files and started heading to the conference room. As she was walking out of her office, Mrs. Dennis was just coming in to her.
“Good morning Modupe.”
Modupe walked past Mrs. Dennis, the vice president operations. Mrs. Dennis almost flew into a rage. Nobody dared to speak to her without addressing her properly as Mrs. Dennis or madam, yet Modupe threw her greetings back at her and breezed past her as though she was a flea on the wall!
Mrs. Dennis has been with Loyola Accounting firm from inception. She did her internship with them, started work with the head office of Loyola. She has worked in five offices of Loyola in the country and five partner offices across the globe. She was a well-respected lady in the company. She commanded respect. She was revered. Apart from the founding fathers, she was the only one who knew the company, inside out. Once you were in her good books, you were okay. For a staff member to walk out on her was considered not just rude but also a crime worse than blatant insult to the CEO.
Modupe carried on as if nothing had happened.
Mrs. Dennis was stunned. She couldn’t believe what she had just witnessed. It was bad enough that she had to personally walk down to Modupe’s office because the meeting was about to start in 30 minutes. The project at hand was one of the biggest projects of Loyola firm and Mrs. Dennis’. For a member of staff to be considered to be on this project was an honour, not to mind actually being on the project. That was an honour of a lifetime. Such privileges would make your CV stand out.
Modupe graduated with a first class honours from the University of London. Her master’s was from Cambridge University. Her expertise and experience was on company mergers. She had facilitated the merger of five top firms in Fortune 500.That was why she was put on this project. Older staff members didn’t like the idea that a new member of staff was put in a project that they, who had worked for the company for at least five years were not considered for. And here she was, first major briefing with the client, she could not be reached. She was snobbish and her interpersonal skills were non-existent.
“I better keep my calm till after the meeting” Mrs. Dennis thought to herself.
An urgent meeting was called with the HR director, Modupe’s line manager and the vice president operations, on Monday after the presentation.
“I am sorry I can’t stay for the meeting. It’s already past going home time but because of the presentation, I had to work late today” Modupe told the HR manager.
The tone of the email was not nice. Mr. Dokun was literally wetting himself. He was the acting HR director and he was gunning to be appointed the substantive HR director. He could not afford to screw up his opportunity. He read the email again:
‘Dear Ms. Lawal,
Be available for a meeting with the Vice President Operations at the VP’s office suite 305 at 9am 20th May 2015.
Thanks and kind regards,
Mr. Dokun, Sigie.
Ag. Director Human Resources’.
Satisfied with its content, he clicked the send button.
If there was anything Mr. Dokun wanted, it was the removal of that ‘Ag’ from his designation. That ‘Ag’ seemed like a bee that stung so bad. But he needed to sting too because after stinging, the bee’s stinger is usually gone. That ‘Ag’ will become dead and the next time he sends out an email, it would read ‘Director Human Resources’.
The thought of it was just unimaginable. If the company requested any favours from any member of staff, it was considered a privilege to that member of staff. The company paid the members of staff handsomely. They looked after their staff members so well that, in the market environment, they would be ranked among the top ten in terms of staff welfare. In a country like Nigeria where jobs were so scarce, any opportunity that one had was held onto tightly, like a precious stone explorer who had just discovered a fresh site for exploration and exploitation. In view of this, people either always worked late or arrived work earlier than usual in a bid to impress the directors and line managers. The previous quarter the company had posted a profit of over a billion naira and staff members were rewarded handsomely too. The bonuses paid to staff members had covered their wages of over three years. Why would they not then stay true and faithful to the organization that had made them? In the process some of them had become slaves and lost their individualism.
At the meeting, Modupe strolled in at exactly 8.58am. H.R director was seated to the right of Mrs. Dennis, the H.R manager was seated to the right of Modupe and Modupe’s line manager, Mrs. Bernard was seated left to Mrs. Dennis.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming” Mrs. Dennis began. Those who knew Mrs. Dennis well enough knew that when she started a meeting like that, most likely, heads may roll at the end of the meeting.
Mr. Dokun could not imagine the effrontery displayed by Modupe. He replayed the matter over his mind. He still could not believe that what he had heard was real. Modupe was standing on trial for blatantly being rude to the mighty VP Operations, not just a VP, but one of the shareholders of the company. To make matters worse, Modupe would not accede to a request of a post presentation briefing by the VP. To be on the same project with the VP is a privilege that any staff member would do anything to gain. The VP was like a demi god in the organization. Her request of meeting was like an order. It had to be obeyed. Modupe has set antecedence in the firm by turning down the VP’s request and she must be court-martialed.
“Ms Lawal, could you tell us the reason why you refused to attend the post presentation briefing last Friday?” Mrs. Dennis fired the question.
“Because it was about 6.40pm and I finish work by 5pm. I was also already late to pick up my daughter from school.”
People could not believe what they heard. No member of staff has ever had such audacity to give such an excuse before, especially the one about ‘I finish work by 5pm’. What! Loyola was your life. Loyola pays for your holidays, Loyola gives you that fat bank account, the car you drive, the nice neighbourhood you live in, the exotic holidays you take yearly, the expensive private schools your children attend, that exquisite wedding you had, is all because of Loyola, and you turned around and spurned Loyola. Is that how you show your loyalty? These were all the thoughts running through people’s minds.
“It clearly means that you don’t have a place in Loyola” Mrs. Dennis said. At this point in time, it was evident that the meeting was over and the next steps will be handled by the HR people.
“It has also been observed that you are anti-social and when people greet you, you do not even nod a response talk more of answering. You keep to yourself. What do you have to say about that Ms. Lawal?
Modupe became agitated. ‘You need to take your medicine.’ the little voice announced within her mind. She fondled with her phone before answering.
“To begin with ma’am, I do not see the people in question as I am blind. I only see objects and sense objects. How can I respond to people that I do not see? I am new here and nobody seems to care about my condition. What must I do?”
At this, the VP turned to the HR director and requested for Modupe’s file.
It was beginning to make sense now. Mr. Dokun had a candidate he preferred for this post but Modupe had beat the candidate hands down during the interview and demo sessions held. Mr. Dokun did not reveal her condition to members of staff and hence people were not aware of her condition. People thought that she was a snob and anti-social and her needs were completely ignored.
Mr. Dotun’s misdemeanor angered Mrs. Dennis a great deal. He was suspended for negligence of duties and his deputy appointed to act on his behalf. Loyola had a total revamp of HR policy to effectively accommodate members of staff with special needs. This was a case of special needs people not being effectively handled in work places leading to huge misnomers and misconceptions. The HR department had to create a new staff policy to accommodate the needs of people with extra needs and that meant sharing of vital information with staff members.
Uwem Mbot Umana©2020