The day was finally here, I was excited, this was going to be my first Pre-Production Meeting and I couldn’t wait to get to the office. I had gone over my to do list in the matatu over a hundred times, just to make sure I got everything right.So far, everything was going according to plan and I was pleased with myself. I had been working on this project with the Big Boss for two months now and it was finally kicking off. I kept glimpsing at my phone to check the time to make sure I was still early to the office, just in case there would be any changes. I was not going to take any chances with any last minute mess ups. Sooner than later, I got to work and found the receptionist Njoki cleaning her work area after she had just completed tiding up the whole office. The rest of the office looked clean and arranged but I could tell, this was not part of her JD from the look on her face but she had to do what she had to do. My Boss seemed to have already arrived, judging from his car in the parking lot.
My attire looked sharp, despite the fact that I had borrowed my elder sister her skirt suit and the fittings were a bit too big for my size. I had to work some miracles using safety pins and last minute stitches for it to look like it was the custom-made designer suit the ones that cost half my year’s rent. After Njoki was done with her last sweep, I asked her to take a photo of me, so that I could share my excitement on Instagram with fellow comrades out there.
Caption: “Today is the D- Day… Loving it”
I quickly thanked her and went to my desk to start off my day. I switched on my laptop to check my emails and also check if they are duties aligned for me, except for the PPM which was the highlight of the day. Once I was done with that part of my ritual, I went to make a cup of tea to ignite my brain engine so I would be energized enough to do any work that would come my way.
After the first sip, I could feel my brain begin to function. I picked up the office landline to call my boss and ask if there is anything he may need before we set off for the meeting but his phone was engaged. I tried after a few more times later but it was still engaged. I quickly dashed to Njoki’s desk to ask if there was anything wrong with the telephone or was Mr Boss having a guest. It was the latter, he was having an early morning meeting with the head of our department Ms Sally.
Ms. Sally was the head of the Production Department, more like the Executive Producer. She was the type whenever you meet her you had to check yourself first before you say anything to her. She reminded me of my high school disciplinarian Madame, the mother of all strict eyes, which was always backed up by a hmmm after you walked past her. You were always a suspect before her eyes. The kind of person who makes you suspect yourself even when everything is okay. Ms Sally was a tall lady with high cheekbones and a hairstyle that I aspire to have when I get to her ranks. She had a poised way of walking and sense of articulation in her speech one only gets to hear if you studied in group of schools, Preparatory or International schools. You could tell she was from a well off background and she understood her business and work better than any other producer I had ever met. That was Ms. Sally and Mr. Boss was very fond of her. Who wouldn’t be, if you are the boss? ‘not the minor?’
After at least half an hour, I could hear Ms Sally’s heels go down the stairs. I almost felt like I should just stand up just in case she needed me to get her usual coffee or maybe pretend I was deep into work, so I didn’t notice her walk in. Dilemma!
She didn’t walk into our side of the office, instead she set off to the editing department and I felt my lungs breathe out a sigh of relief. I immediately called my boss to check on him again and find out anything if there was anything I could do before the meeting.
Me: Hello Sir, Is there anything you would like me to do before we set off for the meeting?
Boss: Oh You are already at the office! About that…
Me: Yes sir…
Boss: I will not be going for the meeting with you. Ms Sally will take over the Production from here. Kindly share your documents and any other material with regards to this shoot.
Me: (felt my hand twinge) Ok sir, Thanks… will do
Boss: You can assist Ms Sally on anything she needs.
Me: Yes sir
Boss: (Hangs up)
At that very moment, I felt shattered, I didn’t know whether I should let it go and cry or try fight for my project at this point, I was dumbfounded. I knew fighting would be a loosing battle, no one ever fights Ms Sally and wins, instead you got fired.
About three months later, I was seated across our newest employee Ms Stephanie. She had some resemblance to Ms Sally. Same eyes, same cheekbones and a certain similarity with the way they talk. She was Ms Sally younger sister. She had joined about two months ago, had studied Political Sciences and had previously worked with NGOs. A few minutes before, she had just been given her own account to manage, two months after she has joined. I have studied film and have worked in this company for over a year but I have never even come close to handling our smallest account. The reason given to this hand over was the account was an NGO and she has worked with them before so she knew how to handle them. I wanted to cry.
“Ms Fridah you will assist Ms Stephanie with this project. Kindly facilitate anything she may need for this project to take off successfully.” direct orders from Ms Sally. In other words do all the dirty work and she takes all the credit. I felt a lump in my throat. I almost choked in anger and frustration.
Ms Stephanie was pleased. This was going to guarantee her a promotion and probably a huge salary bump. Her understanding of assist was, I was to take orders from her. Her jobs was to call the shots and if ever she got stuck you are in no position to give assistance since she would quickly ran to her sister ask for help and throw the commands of solution back at me. It got frustrating because it seemed like I wasn’t willing to help yet she never asked for it. Ms Sally would summon me separately complaining to me that Ms Stephanie is always running to her for basic problems, that I should be in a position to solve. All along I was never part and parcel of the work, just commands and orders being thrown all over the place. I tried explaining my predicament with Ms Sally but from where I stood, everything I said seemed to be getting me closer and closer to losing my job.
Ms Stephanie looked at me as a threat, I knew my job and was willing to assist but if anyone got to know that she was using my help, she knew it would mean her title as account manager would be stripped off.The fact that I was younger than she was, gave me no position to know more than she already knew. There was no way she would let me actually help and take the credit. She was the right person for the job.
Power Play: “If I don’t win, so won’t you. If I don’t know, so don’t you”.
Mr Boss got to hear about my situation. I was reported as incompetent and not a team player. I was making Stephanie’s work very difficult and there was a possibility we may end up loosing the client. Mr Boss summoned me as well. Later that day, I received a memo.
You have a month to prove to the company whether you are worth maintaining as an employee or you will receive your letter of termination.
My heart sank. How was I going to win with this power play? Is it worth it? Am I going to even win? Or is this the end?