Its 4:45 a.m. on a Friday morning, I’m in one of the capital cities of the world, my alarm hasn’t even gone off yet, but I’m jolted awake, it’s the fear that if I get on the road ten minutes later than I normally set out, I could be stuck in traffic for 2 hours rather than get to the office in 30 minutes. I rush a bath, and I’m thinking thank God it’s Friday, I’ll probably hang out with the girls or the boys (depending on how I feel at the end of the day), so I have to wear something that translates from day to night easily-kind of like the “banker by day, Bacardi by night” advert.
5:30 a.m., I’m out of the house, very simple black Channel dress, tan Gucci shoes, a matching Gucci belt and my jacket. I know I’m looking hot. I step into my car and as usual I’m amazed at how quiet it starts. It seems to purr like a contented cat. I’m happy I’m out early, I plan to unleash the beast in my car, she consumes the miles like wildfire. I start to play my feel good music “I’m coming out” and in my mind I go over the meetings I have for the day. A 10 a.m. with the financiers, negotiations have to close today, my client is anxious to start drawing down. At noon, my client expects to come in and sign the dotted lines. At 2 p.m., I meet with my team to review the week’s work, have we met our deadlines? What have we done this week that makes us the “to go to” team in the office, this has to be quick because I have a late lunch at 3 with a potential client. I should have scheduled the meeting at the restaurant on the office premises but I’m out to impress (huge account) so it’s the Waldorf Astoria.
Wait!!!! Is that traffic I see at this time? Something must be wrong. There is never traffic this early. It’s just 5.40, no matter what I’ll be at work before 8 a.m. I think, and I turn my mind to other things, like how I must get in touch with my dad this week. It’s been so long and we live in the same city. What kind of child am I? I was very loved, he was never negligent or flippant with me, so why do I forget to call him for 2 weeks or more. I feel really ungrateful and start to beat myself up… instead of making the call. It’s 6 a.m. and I haven’t moved an inch, its 7 a.m. and not an inch further. Now I know I’m going to be late. I call the office but of course no one answers, work does not start till eight. I call my colleague who lives further up the road from me. She says there’s been an accident. Two trailers and a car. Early this morning, looks like the occupant of the car did not make it. It is mangled and torn in half.My first thought is, thank God I did not get out earlier, it could have been me. My second thought is I’m stuck here forever then, I know the traffic management agents stationed on the road will rather apprehend you for wrong doing than apply their minds to seeking a solution for problems like these-for example diverting traffic from this lane to the other and ensuring that the cars move in a straight file. I have to find a way out.
I call my other colleague; she has a jeep and will take the road close to the beach where there would not be any traffic. She says she is about 5 minutes behind me but is slowly inching her way forward. I tell her I will park my car somewhere and cross over to the other side of the road where she must pass to get to the Beach Road. So I park, its 7.55 a.m. I get a parking ticket and cross over, I’m thinking walking will ruin the heels of my shoes. I take my novel, “Confessions of a Shopaholic”, so I stand at the bus stop and start to read. I’m hoping its obvious that I do not belong to the crowd waiting for a bus (I make no apologies for my vanity, I have earned it, every item of clothing on me cost a small fortune, so yes, I hope it is obvious that I don’t belong here). I refuse to sit on the bench provided.
8.30 a.m. I call my colleague, she still has not moved she says. The bench looks very attractive now. Gucci did not make these shoes for potential military trainees. They are not to be “stood” in for 35 minutes. 9 a.m., she is still not here, the bench is full but I go and ask a lady if she could just move a little so I can seat, never mind her tray of fish. 9.30, there is a slight drizzle, I call my colleague and she says sorry, she still has not moved, traffic is at a total standstill. I tell her that there is a market close by and I may have to go and sit inside if it starts pouring rain. And as if on cue, the heavens open. I walk as fast as I can in the rain (I am still conscious of the fact that I must maintain my dignity and grace even in this situation). I see a teenage boy opening his shop. I ask if I can stand inside till the rain subsides, he looks at me from my head to my toes and says no, he does not want any issues of theft, and I look at him and don’t know how or where to answer from. Me, steal!!!! I want to be indignant, but its raining, so I move to the next shop. It’s a local restaurant, she is cooking rice, beans and plantain, and because it is raining outside the kerosene stove is inside. It is smoky and smells bad, but it’s the only other shop that is open and so I ask if I can have a seat. At this point, I have forgotten vanity, pride or the need to impress anyone. It is 9.45 a.m. I hear a ping, it is my blackberry. The Team Leader for the group of Financiers says he is stuck in traffic and can we re-schedule. I’m hoping he can’t hear the sound of boiling or of the cooks chattering when I say my client will not be pleased and that his notice canceling was too short. I tell him how time is money and how I will not be able to schedule another meeting with such short notice. He apologises. (I’m not being mean, anything that gives me the upper hand in our negotiations is good. It’s a mind thing!!!!!!)
By now I smell- of kerosene and of smoke. My hair is limp, and the cook’s son is tugging at my dress with blacked hands. Thank God, it’s black. I have lost the will to be finicky or cute. He asks me to come and eat and promptly drops some stew on my laps. I feel like crying!!!! Who would have thought this day would turn out like this? 10.30, my colleague a calls, the accident has been cleared up, she thinks, because traffic has started moving. She will be with me in 5 minutes. I say thank you to the cook, give her son candy from my bag and walk to the market gate, not looking or feeling so hot anymore. I greet my colleague, sit down and close my eyes. I have a migraine. I can’t find anything in this situation to be thankful about, all I wanted to do was get to work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!