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Man about town

Colleague willing to bribe to keep her job

Two men sit in the bar
Two men sit in the bar at a bar counter. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

I have concluded that I am not made for office politics and office gossip. Somehow, I tend to learn of things and issues too late in the day. At the start of the week, I received a message from Beatrice, CEO’s PA, saying – “Urgent, we need to talk but not in the office.”

That had me perplexed and I sent her a message, saying I would set aside some time. I kept thinking about what Beatrice had said and wondering what could be behind her cryptic message. However, my mind got no concrete answer.

Just as I was driving to work, the CEO called me saying, “Come to my office.” Now, this had me really scared and I think even the chief executive could sense my fear as I walked into his office for he told me to calm down, “no need to worry.”

Josphat, he started, “I need you to prepare all the computations of how much we spend on our support staff like cooks, cleaners, admin assistants.....” I asked if HR couldn’t do it but the chief executive said he did not trust the HR manager. “Every time, I ask her to do something, she leaks information, I need this to be a top secret.”

This had me even more confused. “But, I will need the information from her to fully respond to your request.” He said he already had the data and would forward it to me.

Happy that I would not be ruffling any feathers, I asked him, “When is the report due?” He needed it by end of day. “Also because of the sensitive nature of this request, please go and prepare it off-site like at home so that you do a good job.”

I wasn’t about to argue with the CEO, so I went home and decided to work on the numbers. I was so absorbed in the work I forgot about Beatrice’s call. I was completely shocked when she texted me again that she was still waiting.

I responded, unable to continue ignoring her: “Are you able to come to my neighbourhood and we have coffee.” I was hoping that she would decline my offer and delay our meeting. “Sure; see you at 6pm,” she responded.

After I submitted the remuneration report, I walked to meet Beatrice.

Up close, she looked a bit weary and perturbed. I quickly told her, “You do not look well; is everything okay?” I could not believe it when she hinted at losing her job. “I think they are going to lay me off!” I was stunned and asked: “What makes you say that?”

She poured her heart out. It seems the HR manager has been sharing some tales with her and saying how the CEO has commissioned a ‘confidential project’ to determine how to lay off admin assistants. I had to struggle to keep a straight face as she said “I am told the CEO has asked the manager not to work in the office so that no information leaks.”

“May be you are being dramatic; how can I help?” She told me to find out who this manager is, and “how we can persuade him to recommend that we admin assistants stay?”

I asked her: “What do you mean ‘persuade’?” She said it means everything and added she was “willing to part with cash to ensure that I retain my job.”

I could not believe it. Why was Beatrice offering a bribe to keep her job? “Let me see what I can find out and then revert.” Things are really getting murky.

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