There were days when things used to be very tough for me. During the mid 90s, I happened to a get a job at a relative’s office where I was supposed to be the office manager.
I had been promised heaven on earth! But alas, it was not to be. Instead of performing my job dressed in a suit and necktie, I ended up serving the office as an office messenger, cleaner and telephone operator.
I was not alone in this miserable life; there was the driver too.
He happened to be a distant relative of our boss’ wife. Although he had been employed as a driver in this downtown office, he never seemed to put his driving skills to test as he was always seen running across the street to buy kebabs for the bosses.
As for me, I had become a very good office houseboy. I had to ensure that my boss and his wife were always treated well.
This meant that their office desks were not only decorated with vases of daffodils, but also steaming pots of Arabica coffee.
Then, I had to ensure that some bars of imported chocolate were laid down next to the computers. Sometimes, I would wonder whether it was an office or a 5-star hotel.
Their teenage daughter had become so spoilt. She refused to attend a boarding school. So every afternoon, she would come to the office from school in a cab.
Her first stop would be at her parents’ office, where she would hang around reading magazines and placing expensive phone calls abroad. What really hurt me is that her parents always transferred the phone bills onto our meager salaries. Translation?
A big chunk of the phone bill would be deducted from our salaries. Reason? The driver and I were the ones who had illegally made all these international phone calls.
So, since things had become tough, we decided to form a deadly alliance; the driver and myself! The driver had decided that enough was enough. You see, according to our boss, the driver was supposed to spend the whole day seated in his ‘office’.
This office was none other than the car itself. He had to follow strict rules: never to read newspapers during his ‘office’ hours; never to drink a bottle of soda, lest he spilled it in the leather seats.
He was supposed to stay glued in the car until he got instructions from above. That meant that he would stay hungry all day long!
Since, I had become the unofficial office messenger, the role of the driver had been trimmed in the name of cost cutting. This meant that I did all the running up and down as the boss’ car remained parked for hours.
I had chances of buying myself some ground nuts at the street corner, my driver-friend had to stay put in his ‘office’.
That is how our new alliance came in handy. In order to avoid a situation where we had a dead driver, I vowed to help out.
This alliance was formed against a background of risk. You see, we planned that I would pretend to be the driver while he ran around town to complete a few personal errands.
I would inform my bosses that I was heading out to the bank, I would secretly sneak back to occupy the driver’s car seat so that he could find a few free minutes. Stakes were high, chances of getting caught probable.
Indeed, this plan worked for a period of only three days. On the fateful day, my boss happened to receive an urgent call and was supposed to attend a meeting pronto!
Without even looking, he rushed to the parking lot and sat in the back seat and ordered me to speed off for the meeting. Obviously, he had not realised that I was the one sitting in for the real driver.
This was it. It was a situation of do or die. Unfortunately, I could not tell an accelerator pedal from the brakes. That is why I coolly started the engine and stepped hard on the accelerator.
In seconds, I blasted the car against the wall and the sound was like that one of a landmine. As my boss fell into unconsciousness, I fled for my life.
Since nobody had recognised me, it was assumed that the real driver had crushed the car. When the driver learnt about the whole mess, he packed his things and hibernated deep in the village.
As for me, I reported back to work feigning surprise.