The Gate Keeper (Chapter 5: In which love is engineered)
by Andrew Miller TBW Smith Jones Wallace Broadbent and Ndimande is an agency in crisis. Their ‘basket of boutique services’ strategy has bombed. Only a massive new project can keep the doors open – all eyes are now on the corporate tent at Mangaung. Far in the background, an emergency replacement executive PA with decades of experience makes important decisions. Interns rise, board members take unexpected steps and things begin to change…
The intern recognises a trap when she sees it, and someone’s already jealous about someone’s else’s career progression…
In which love is engineered
Vati left her first executive strategy session at TBWSJWBN feeling just the tiniest bit abused.
She had never encountered Him directly before. She had seen Him coming and going. She had certainly seen that madly lush car of His floating in and out of the parking lot, but she had never come to face to with Him. Now, in the space of two decidedly weird (perverse, even?) hours, she had been eye-balled and ogled and goggled so seriously she needed to go home and change.
But instead she gritted her teeth, passed the bar, which still hummed a bit, and went back to her desk. Lecherous intentions aside, this, finally, felt like it could be progress. She sat firmly and checked her emails. Nothing.
“Where you been?” Simon asked, leaning back in his chair again.
“Strat session for Mangaung.”
“For real?” Simon sat forward. Then leaned back again. “Who asked you?”
“I got an email from that fat old white lady.”
“Mama E? Really?” The shock was obvious. “Well, then,” Simon plopped his headphones back over his ears and grabbed his mouse with annoyance. “It must have been right.”
I should have known He would start slobbering over that little thing. Maybe it’s because I am, how should I say, navigating dry rivers myself, that I didn’t consider the consequences. He bounded out of that meeting like a four month old Labrador and now he keeps on asking questions about Qua Qua and indigenous hip hop.
Still, there’s always the chance that it works to her benefit and she gets a foot into the door, rather than his… anyway, it’s made me think about a whole lot of things about careers and ambition and all that. I tried to talk to Gerald about it last night but he’s suffering from that ridiculous man sulk because I’m back at work and he’s failed as a retirement fund provider and so on and so on, so really there’s no-one to talk to about any of it. It’s not like I don’t have friends here, I do, but, let’s face it, they’re several decades back and I find myself yawning at their ambition, their lack of understanding that whatever scratches they’re notching into their advertising bed posts will be completely useless when they hit Shady Pines, as I am shortly to do – if we can ever rake up the money to pay for it.
Maybe I just need to write this diary more often. Maybe the self expression helps. I can’t believe I can only get to it every 30 days.
From: Melinda Ensworthy [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 10:45 AM
CC: Mangaung Strategy Team
Subject: meeting follow up
Please can you make sure you submit the power points and print outs of your presentations to me by tomorrow, 4pm, at the latest, so that I am able to get them all ready for Monday’s breakfast meeting with Sizwe.
Please also note that the meeting team has been trimmed to four core members, and that the meeting will take place at the Springbok lodge about 30 kms North of Pretoria. The session is scheduled to begin at 7:30am and is expected to last the full day. Those of you who wish to book in overnight please let me know by close of play tomorrow.
Vati clicked out of her email and sighed internally. The trap had been set. Love – or at least a series of powerful groping opportunities – was being engineered. Still, she had a killer presentation lined up. If she needed to flutter eyebrows (or any other bits, within limits) to get a break, then so be it. Life is hard. The ball is round. We play on.