The Gate Keeper: Chapter 15 (In which people think about life)
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 copywriter gets jealous while the boss fretts about the potential for success at Mangaung…
In which people think about life
Now that Simon Shone had decided he was going to extract revenge – of some sort – on Vati, she had completely disappeared. It was like she worked at a different company. It made him think back to when he had first arrived. It took months – six, eight, ten? – for him to realise that those young black okes who kept coming and going on the side of the commons weren’t interns, as he had naturally presumed – that they were in fact the strat team. They dressed young, walked young, talked easily in seven different languages and listened to hip hop, so naturally he had presumed they were fresh out of Vega, or WITS or something.
Simon pondered again exactly what it took to get into the strat team. What had Vati done to get there so fast? And what did the strat team even do anyway? They definitely didn’t work on advertising accounts, like he did. Currently the Mangaung mission was well known across the agency, but what happened before and after Mangaung? He had to admit he had no idea. He let the back of his leather office chair push him slowly forward. He thought he had seen the top of Vati’s head moving past on the strat side, but he couldn’t be sure.
Simon Shone refocused on his monitor and adjusted the three lines of copy he’d had open all morning.
It’s about life
And that’s all you need to know
It was bad. He knew that much. But no matter how he fiddled, it refused to come right. His mind drifted to the image of Phil and Vati hooking up last week. He glanced over at his graphics colleague, who was locked firmly into his screen, as usual. He wondered what it had been like between them, then berated himself for letting his mind slip in that direction. Some things should not be thought about.
At around about the same time Mama E was peering anxiously through the keyhole of His office, her kneecaps screaming in protest at the shock of contact with the ground. There had been no movement the whole morning, which was very unusual. He wasn’t picking up the phone, and the door to His domain was actually locked. She could see a single foot through the constricted space, wrapped in an expensive leather shoe, and it appeared to have some movement. There was, she was sure, a regular tapping motion. Mama E hoisted her very large to frame to its feet and acknowledged to herself that she would probably never again sink so low, if only for purely practical reasons.
He heard faint scuffling at his door. It was probably Melinda. She was efficient, granted, but it would be typical of her generally invasive nature to be fretting about Him. She was, He was sure, constitutionally unable to leave well enough alone.
He swallowed the last of his morning whiskey and sighed. Obvious perks of the job aside, He wasn’t sure that this kind of high profile pressure was really His thing. Not as a lifestyle. Not as the rest of His life. He was struggling, to be honest, to pull it all together. His father was being even more evasive than usual and, He would never admit this to anyone, of course, things were by no means set for Mangaung. Yes, His father and the EFT guy were thick, and yes, in theory the pitch and the tender were rock solid, but one could never tell with politics. The first sign of things going south was too much silence. And His father had been particularly quiet of late.
He sighed heavily and considered pouring another shot. It was 10:00am, and every strategic bone in His body shouted no. He was tempted – very – to overrule his bones, but eventually he decided better of it. There were always consequences. One needed to know where to set the horizon. Instead, He buzzed Melinda, ordered a coffee and asked her to send that fresh young girl with the rural Hip Hop strategy to Him as soon as possible.