I was in office the next day, my self-esteem battered. My sister had earlier told me however difficult or unrewarding the job was, there would never be one that would satisfy me completely.
Rita and Terrence walked in shortly after my arrival. Both of them greeted me like nothing had happened the previous day. I was relieved but kept questioning why they were acting nice towards me. I was expecting a sack. This made Sylvia angry. She thought she had finished me.
It was soon time for the morning meeting. I sat at the back and Sylvia at the front, close to Rita’s table. Rita informed us that the chief human resource officer was on her way from Kampala to take us through work ethics but we could, in the meantime, start our meeting.
To Sylvia’s dismay, Rita called on me to lead a prayer for opening the meeting. The silence in the room was loud. I became more afraid of Rita’s niceness. I led the prayer. She and Terrence clapped after my prayer. The team was clearly very disappointed. Sylvia was looking at me from the corner of her eyes as I walked back to my seat.
Rita then praised me for being hard working. She told the meeting that she had received feedback about my impressive performance. Terrence nodded in approval. The team got angrier.
She then moved to part of the conversation I had been dreading. She said I should not mix business with pleasure because I was a young woman with a promising future. Terrence again nodded in Rita’s approval as the team laughed mockingly. I bowed my head in shame.
“You shouldn’t make the same mistakes some of us made when we were your age,” Rita continued. I felt bad for upsetting such a nice woman, albeit ignorantly.
The chief human resource officer finally arrived. There was an air of indifference about her. She disproved most things Rita said in her brief to the meeting. The team seemed happy with her.
She took us through the standards of behavior that the company required of us. It was such a long list but the one that stood out was that spouses were not allowed to work in the same company and workmates were not allowed to date too. If two people fall in love, one was supposed to resign. She said the details were in our contract letters that she had carried along. Everyone clapped in jubilation except Sylvia.
Her mischief came to light when she raised her hand and asked the HR why some people were working with their sweethearts in the company. The HR was lost for words for a few minutes then said, “As I told you already, your contract letters are not yet with you but we expect you to stop that relationship upon getting your formal contracts. We can excuse you because you are still new but if it was happening say between Rita and anyone else, we would penalise her because she’s been with us long enough,” the HR said.
Sylvia raised her hand again, probably to volunteer more details but Rita got up and cut her shot. “I think HR has explained everything. For the purpose of time, let’s move to the next agenda, which is lunch and you can get your letters,” she said.
We went for lunch. Sylvia was determined to get an opportunity to talk to the HR as she kept close to her. Rita was very much alert and never gave the HR and Sylvia any opportunity to be by themselves.
I was right to be suspicious of Rita’s charm towards me that morning. She was determined to sweep her secret with Terrance under the carpet by being nice to me. She could have succeeded in confusing me and the team, but she was wrong for trusting Sylvia.
For all I know, Sylvia could still be plotting to bring out the skeleton in Rita’s closet.