Henry stepped into his Branch Manager’s office with trepidation. He made sure he kept a straight face and greeted him with meekness. No way… Ben Okosi wasn’t to be denied his field day. He looked at Henry with disdain and hissed, “spare me all that cheap pretence. You can’t just stroll into the office by 8:30 am and expect a welcome party to be set up for you. You obviously need to get some sense knocked into that your stubborn head. I have been watching you and can see that you are just so full of yourself. I wonder where that misplaced self-confidence will take you, when you can’t seem to get the most mundane things right”.
The session was turning into a vitriolic verbal abuse on the person of Henry and he wasn’t finding it funny. His eyes strayed to the shiny, balding head of his ranting Boss and he marveled at the level of anger bottled up within him. His short, bulky frame was vibrating intensely as he rapidly spewed out his venom. Henry had noticed Ben’s contempt for him from the very first day he resumed at the branch to replace their former Manager. Kunle Adisa was different, he looked after his people like a father and had built a strong bond with his team before his promotion and the unfortunate redeployment to a Head Office Unit. Now, this man has come here with the singular aim of destroying all that Kunle had achieved. Henry tried so much to keep calm and stomach the insults being hurled at him, but it seemed that his silence incensed Ben the more and prompted him to move into another gear.
Ben raged on… “I will make your life miserable if you don’t sit up. I have more senior Officers here in this branch and I am getting all this headache from a bloody Officer like you. I wonder why Kunle kept parading you as a star, when you clearly have nothing to offer. That’s why you would have the temerity to lock out the whole branch on a Monday morning, not caring the implication to our business. We would have been receiving unnecessary attention from the Head office if I had not opened the office with my keys”. Henry was outraged, he had heard Ben take on some of his colleagues but never imagined he would stoop this low and start threatening him, he didn’t even care to hear what happened. This was just an isolated incident, why all the threats? He entertained the thought to voice his disapproval briefly, but he knew it was the wrong timing, the case against him was strong. Ben would have him exactly where he wanted and would not hesitate to escalate the case and perhaps bundle him to the dreaded disciplinary committee. He swallowed his pride, kept his cool and contemplated the wisdom of the proverb; “On the day of the hunt, we will hunt at the Grasscutter’s domain”.
He was eventually dismissed, with a stern warning to organise himself and get focused on the job. Henry got to his desk feeling dejected and seriously upset, he wished he had taken on the crazy man. He logged in to his computer and proceeded to get a telex from the Trade folder for one of his major customers. Raju, the Finance Controller, had been calling him since morning and he had to quickly send him the telex before returning his call to avoid any drama. His attention was drawn to the sound of Ben’s voice addressing them; “Guys” he started, “everyone must be out in the streets by 10 am. Quickly attend to your Customers and leave the office”. Henry was still in a foul mood when their resident Comedian; Olu poked his side and said, “Henry Baba, chill man, the man na only bark, no action… don’t let him mess up your day”. For the first time that day, he smiled and thought how ironic that something sensible could actually come out of Olu’s lips. He put on Sammie Okposo’s CD, selected his favourite song “Many Reasons” and momentarily lost himself to the sound of the excellently arranged music.
On their way to Apapa, later in the day, he still wondered why everyone in his department was in agreement that he should let the matter lie. They had all developed a thick skin to such vitriolic attacks and would instinctively shake them off, like a hen would water splashed on her feathers. Even Stella, the elegant Assistant Manager, shared her terrible experience in her former bank, where her Manager had called her performance into question, accusing her of not pulling her weight since she got married and that her huge salary was distorting the profitability of the Branch. This was in a zonal business review session, in the presence of her subordinates and to cap it up, it was wide off the mark. The man had just been looking for an opportunity to embarrass her and she could do nothing about it. She explained that these were normal occurrences in the banking industry and Henry should just count himself lucky to have only worked with a Gentleman like Kunle before now.
Henry could not believe his ears but because he held Stella in high esteem, he listened and pretended to pay attention to her counsel. However, the more he considered the events of the day, the more he knew there was no way he wouldn’t hit back. He was not wired to take such insults and just move on… his colleagues obviously didn’t know his capacity for mischief. He made up his mind to play his Branch Manager, “oh he would so give him loads of that cheap pretence”. He would dance to his tune, convincing him that he had been cowed by his threats and strike when his guard would have been let down. Henry didn’t care what would happen thereafter, “when we get to that bridge, we’ll cross it” he reasoned. The showdown would be in their Early Morning Session with all the Account Officers in attendance. It would be interesting to watch the reaction of the Dictator, when he is being demystified by a bloody Officer.
Henry wore a wry smile when he got back to the office. The new found excitement was in anticipation of the plot to give his Branch Manager a dose of his own medicine. His actions would shock and delight his colleagues when he eventually pulls it off, but most importantly, he would bruise Ben’s bloated ego.