Zainab was late. Everything had gone wrong from the moment she woke up. She had woken an hour later than she planned. On checking her alarm, she had been annoyed to find that it had stopped working. Throwing it away in disgust she jumped up only to hit her head against the empty top bunk.
By the time she had showered, it was 6am. A further twenty minutes was spent searching for her good luck skirt. She could swear she had hung it up the night before. She finally found it draped under the clothes heaped on the chair. Struggling into it, she buttoned the pink shirt she had chosen and slipped into her roommate’s low black heels. They were a tad too small, but beggars couldn’t be choosy. Five minutes took care of her makeup and she was out the door.
Now it was nine o’clock and the receptionist was saying what she had known since 5am.
“You’re late, ma. I’m sorry but I’ve been ordered not to admit anyone after 8.15am”
“I know”, Zainab said desperately. “I got into a horrible traffic jam between Palmgrove and Obalende. I had to bike here from Obalende. I really need this job”
“I’m really sorry, ma but there’s nothing I can do.” The receptionist was firm.
Dejected, Zainab slumped against the counter. All she needed was just one chance to prove herself. She would do anything…
“Miss, did you really take a bike all the way from Obalende?”
Turning, she saw a distinguished looking man whose well pressed suit must have cost her entire wardrobe.
Stammering, she nodded. He looked her over once again and she squirmed, uncomfortably aware that her once -well -pressed skirt was badly wrinkled and she had lost a shirt button while scrambling for the bus.
“You’re terribly late, young lady. Wait here. I’ll see if I can fit you in after all the others are through”.
Stammering her thanks, Zainab was about to sit when he added “You might want to …emm… freshen up a bit. Sade will direct you”.
Flushing deeply in embarrassment, she nodded and followed the receptionist’s directions. After dabbing water on her face, she retouched her makeup and tried to straighten her skirt. She had no pin so the shirt would have to stay like that. She was just glad it was one of the last ones and not in the middle.
An hour and a half later, she was ushered into the conference room. Nervously smoothing her skirt, she greeted the men in the room.
“Sit down sit down. Zainab Ahmed, is it?’ an elderly man asked her.
“Yes, yes sir. Thank you sir’. She sat down timidly, unaware of the gracefulness in the simple act.
“So…” another man leaned forward eagerly, and she taught here goes the questions..”…you biked all the way from Obalende?”
Taken aback, she could only nod in stupefaction as questions came from all sides of the room. After the interview, she went home certain she had failed. Nobody had asked about her qualifications. She was therefore pleasantly surprised when a letter came the next week. It was signed by the Chairman of the board and read simply:
We are always looking for courageous and determined people to add to our staff. Anyone crazy enough to take a bike from Obalende to Ajah fits that bill. Welcome on board!