The Gate Keeper Chapter 25 (In which muscles are flexed)
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 great one flexes his pre-Mangaung muscle. The board hopes the right people get the right idea about management, fees and percentages…
In which muscles are flexed
The fat men at EFT had signed off on the rural hip hop concept. Structures were in place. The budget was sitting in some kind of weird Escrow account. All He had to do was secure a final, conclusive nod from the big Elephant and the dominoes – budgetary, strategic, tender and otherwise – would fall.
It was, of course, not an exact science, securing the nod. Delicate phrasing was required. The proposition had to be asked and answered via the eyebrow, as did the splits and percentages on the tender side. This, He thought to himself as he warmed up on his Virgin Active bike, was His moment. It was, as they said in the classics, now or never.
He hopped off the bike, made a big show of stretching his bulging quadriceps and eyed out the four extremely fit yet rather hard edged gellas on the travelator. In earlier days, these fish would have been swimming in His waters. Now, the vision of the fresh young intern was ever in His mind’s eye. He was amazed to admit to himself that the gym girls could not compete. Most frustratingly of all, He couldn’t really even put his finger on why. The bottom line was that she was what she was, and they were what they were. That’s all there was to it.
He grabbed a few free weights and made a big show of a set of lateral extensions, pondering all the while if his lust wasn’t simply up because she refused to acknowledge his presence.
Meanwhile, at the TBWSJWBN board room things were getting heated.
“Can anyone explain to me,” Isaac Ndimande demanded, “exactly how these management fees and administration percentages will be calculated and paid out? The wording here is extremely vague. Purposefully so, I would suggest.” He glared around the room. En route, his eyes couldn’t help but notice that Tim Broadbent was actually sucking – yes sucking, and quite noisily, in fact, – on his tie.
“I think, Isaac, that at this point in TBWSJWBN’s trajectory it would behove us to be flexible in our approach to this particular portion of the project,” Nonhlanhla Mofokeng let the words slip out like lost pieces of spaghetti.
Isaac snorted derisively. “In other words we look away and pray that the bean counters get the general idea?”
The TBW Smith Jones Wallace Broadbent and Ndimande executive boardroom coughed knowingly, and with only a touch of embarrassment. Tim Broadbent continued to suck on his tie, his eyes and his mind focused through the window, on the row of commuters waiting for a taxi down below on Jan Smuts avenue.
Back at the Virgin Active Sizwe released a power roar at the conclusion of His last set of bicep curls. A few heads turned, He noted, but not those of the girls, who were lunging in a co-ordinated fashion at a piece of pink foam, earphones firmly in.
Now, with the departure for Mangaung around the corner, He was feeling in full and final form. Irresistible, in fact. If the young one were to wonder accidentally across his path sometime this morning, nothing would be able to hold Him back. He wondered suddenly what His father would say if He finally arrived home with a girl worthy of the great family legacy, with a life partner able to make up for His own miserable failures in the intellectual department. For many South Africans life as an advertising CEO would have constituted the pinnacle of success, but in His family everyone knew it was the gig of last resort. There was, He had heard a cynical uncle once say, nowhere else to put the little bugger.
“Melinda,” he barked into his headset as she picked up. “Please, I need a small revision meeting for the final prep for Mangaung. As soon as possible. Latest 11:00am.” He trotted to the showers as he spoke, jogging on the spot in front of his Platinum level locker. “Look, just make sure that intern is there, the one who came up with the whole thing. She comes from Qwa Qwa ne?” He stopped jogging and stood like a teapot while the answer came through. “Well, whatever, she’s from the rurals. She has insight and I need it. Today. Right now in fact. 11:00am.”
Mama E clicked out of the call with a calculated sigh. The executive reception area was covered in people – it wouldn’t do to spit in front of them. She focused on radiating a sense of calm, organisation and control. Then she kicked the bottom of her desk really really hard. She had always known there was something very wrong with this business.