It wasn’t so much the way he looked at her that made her mad. How he looked straight ahead as if she didn’t exist. It was the tone of his voice when he talked. It was insultive; derogatory. It was laced with something nearly akin to hatred. A scene from horrible bosses came to her mind. Sometimes, she was so mad she wanted to hit him.
She didn’t want to be stuck with him. She shouldn’t have been stuck with him. It was unfair. But the order from above had come and there was nothing they both could do about it. They were supposed to be partners working on this big account but he treated her more like she was his secretary. Giving her orders, telling her to fetch and carry. The fact that he got employed in the company three months before her didn’t give him the right to boss her around. But he seemed not to have gotten that memo.
“Oiza,” he called her from his office. She was sitting in an adjoining office and heard him clearly. She bristled. He didn’t even have the decency to call her on her intercom and he had the nerve to call her by her first name. She took a deep breath and entered his office.
“Mr. Dada,” she said trying to instill ice into her voice. “What is it?”
“Have you looked at these figures?” he said pointing at a piece of paper on his table. “They don’t add up. Your estimate for the project is way below what we’ll need.”
“What do you mean by that?” she said trying to keep her voice from rising. “I did a thorough research on this and to the best of my knowledge those figures are correct.”
“Well, your research wasn’t thorough enough then. I’ve done my own research and this is what I came up with,” he said giving her another sheet of paper.
She scanned through it. The figures were nearly twice her own.
“I’m not sure the company can afford this Mr. Dada,” she said fighting the urge to scream.
“Oh,” he said lifting his eyebrows. “Are you now the manager of the company? Or are you the spokesperson for the company?” he asked sarcastically. “The company would do what it needs to do to ensure it gets this account and I won’t allow anyone, not even you to stand in the way of that.”
Her eyes narrowed and she responded with a voice of steel. “I do not like your tone, Mr. Dada. All the work I do here is in the best interests of this company. I really cannot agree with you on your estimates. I’m sure if we try to present it to the board tomorrow, they’ll turn yours down for being too extravagant.”
He looked away from her to his keyboard. “We’ll see about that. Besides, you don’t have to worry. Since I’m the senior officer here, I’ll make the presentation.”
“Good luck,” she muttered under her breath. There was no way the board would give them that kind of money just because they were looking to secure an account. Never mind that the company in question was one of the fastest growing food companies in the country. “Have it your way,” she said and turned on her heel and left.
As she got back to her office, she wondered whether he hated women or just her. He treated her like she was incompetent or incapable. She had worked hard to get to where she was and the company had recognized that. It hadn’t been easy combining her job with her home but she was determined to give it her best shot. She wouldn’t allow a male chauvinist like Mr. Dada to take that away from her. She itched to say: ‘I told you so’, at the board meeting the next day.
When they gathered in the board room, the next day, she noticed that he looked particularly smug. It irritated her. He was about to be blown down anyway, she consoled herself and then he would wipe that smirk off his face.
She watched him as he got up slowly and moved to address the room and watched in open mouthed shock as he proceeded to make a presentation based on her own estimates. She tried to say something but nothing would come out.
As he was closing, he said: “I’m afraid my partner and I could not agree on the estimate for this particular account. This is what she felt we would need to offset the account.” So saying, he showed a slide of his own estimates. “I have to say that when she showed me this, we had an argument because I felt it was too extravagant. I had to remind her that we needed to have the best interests of the company at heart.”
Oiza got up from her chair in a raging fury. The slimy conniving snake! The gall of him! So this is what he had planned to do all along! Well, she would show him. Nobody messed with her and got away with it scot-free.
“Yes, Mrs. Ozovehe, do you have anything to add?” a member of the board said. She realized she could not say anything at that moment that would not make her look or sound stupid. She shook her head slowly and sat down.
“Well then I think Mr. Dada’s estimates look reasonable enough to me,” the chairman said. “Can we move on to the next agenda?”
She felt like crawling into the ground and glared across at Mr. Dada. Waheed or whatever his name was, sat there with that smirk on his face. This was not over yet, she thought. Not by a long shot.