Thursday, February 16, 2017

Echoes From The Past: 40 Days Of Slavery (Part 2)

I sat quietly in the car all through the drive to the hotel, two towns away from my home. 
We arrived there and I was amazed that small Mr. Coker actually owned the hotel. 
It stood on a large expanse of land, a two storey with 21 rooms.
We were greeted by a young man who worked as the gateman, John. Mr. Coker and his friend led me to the reception area where a tall man with an unsmiling face welcomed us. 
Without ceremony, this man informed Coker that he was leaving... The next hour was dramatic but I understood nothing. They begged this man not to leave, but he left. 

Mr Coker turned to me, "Bose, can you manage this hotel? "
I didn't understand his question, it sounded like he was asking me if I liked his hotel and I nodded. 
"Good" he said 
"I'm entrusting all in your care because you are a graduate, I believe you can do it. I'll introduce you to the rest of the staff. You are the manager".he told me. 

I couldn't believe my luck. How come I got promoted without trial?  I came there to be a house keeper or receptionist... 
I was happy. I called my mom and gave her the 'good news'
I slept happily and the next day, I went home to pack my stuff. I needed to be on site to manage well. 

I arrived the next day with my baggage, was greeted by John who told me Oga was not around.
I went into the room allocated to me, dropped my baby and things then arranged my face in my best managers face to meet the rest of the staff for a brief meeting. 

I remember the look on John's face when I told him to call 'everybody'
'Aunty, walahi ma only me dey here o' he said smiling. He probably did not understand my managerial English so I smiled smugly and told him again in pidgin to call all the cleaners, cooks and everyone. 

John the young man from Kano repeated that there was no one but him. 
There was a mistake. I grabbed my phone and called Mr. Coker who confirmed John's statements. 
"I'm sure you can still manage on your own until we need more hands" he said. 

"But we need cleaners" I told him emphatically. 
"We will get them, but for now, nothing really happens at the hotel. When things start happening, we'll get all the help we need"

I was confused. So why was I made manager? To manage John and myself? 

If the boss said nothing was happening, good then, I'd sleep in a nice room and watch TV, no problem. 

I was wrong. 
My first weekend, 18 out of 21 rooms were fully booked. 
I was scared. 

There was only me and John whose duty was to man the gate. 

I was cook, cleaner, housekeeper, bar tender, messenger for all my guests. 

Every morning, I'd clean all 21 rooms, change their sheets, mop the toilets and cook for guests who want to eat. 
I never left my baby alone, I carried the little one and ran around like a slave. 

That weekend was tough, but I survived. 

When they all left on Sunday morning... I proudly called Coker to inform him that things had changed and we needed to employ some people. 
He refused, saying, I should manage until we were Sure the change was permanent. 
I continued working like a slave. 

One afternoon, a couple vacated a room and I quickly grabbed the cleaning items to go clean up the room they vacated. I opened the room and the sight I saw brought tears to my eyes. I dropped my child and began to cry. 😁😁😁

Seriously, I don't know if they did a swimming practice in the room, I still do not know how they did it, but the room and everything in it was floating. There was a flood in the room, the bathroom was a no-no. 

Nothing was broken, the taps were OK, but there was water everywhere. I cried my eyes out, I didn't even know where to start. 

I rolled up my trousers, went on my knees and got to work as I cursed everything and everyone. 

One day, I decided to help myself, I got a cardboard and wrote "Cleaners Needed Apply Within" without telling Coker. He arrived that evening and removed the sign saying I should have told him first. 

Well, I continued working. 
I have never met someone like Coker in my life. The only time he praised me was when he was flirting with me and telling me he had plans to take me to America!

Every other time, he was a lunatic. There was a day he told me the gate was dirty! Very funny... I told him to wash it. 
He could not believe it... I looked him in the eye and told him to wash the gate if it was dirty. 

Let me tell you about my mornings
I would wake up as early as 5am, sweep the compound (3 plots of extra land) clean all 21rooms and bathrooms. 

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