Saturday, 8 July 2017

22. Inlaws, Outlaws and Customers

One cannot avoid being interrupted in day to day operations. Having systems that work, training employees to take on senior roles and learning to delegate is crucial if one is to manage the various interruptions that happen in the course of the day. These are skills that every entrepreneur needs to learn to survive or you will die on the job. I have no problem delegating, but Al, he had to learn it the hard way when each day at work became a nightmare, he finally got the hang of it and delegates with ease though sometimes still struggles and looks over peoples shoulders ...

Al received a call from Dela yesterday evening informing him of the surprise guests in town. This would be the first time he would meet any blood relative of Elan's. He wanted to make a good impression give them the very courtesy Elan would have if she knew they were in town. He had all his meetings cancelled to free up his day for them. Right now he was engrossed finishing the days' paper work before their arrival but the phone rings. He picks it while still preoccupied with a document on the computer. 

Al, ‘ Hello?’

Dela, ‘Elan’s sisters are here.’

Al is surprised. They were hours earlier than expected. ‘Already? Thought you said they arrived yesterday evening was expecting them much later...’ 

Dela, ‘Well, may be they are early birds like her.’ 

Al, wishes he could have one more hour to windup but figures Dela could handle the rest of the document and he would review it at the end of the day before sending it out. That was the beauty of having this awesome team Elan had, work could continue without missing a heart beat in an emergency. And in-laws are the ultimate emergency, you don't keep them waiting. ‘OK show them in.’

Al stands to put away a file in the cabinet behind him just as Dela brings in Meline, Penrice and Jenny. They are all spruced up. He walks up to them with a smile, his charm radar at 100%, stretches out his hand in greeting, ‘Good morning!’

The ladies stop midway as though frozen. They stare at him, and then look at each other impressed but totally shocked. 

‘He! Eeehe! you are young!’ goes Meline, totally uncouth to the sisters. They had discussed her behaviour between them and decided they would not give her the opportunity to keep embarrasing them.

Al frowns, this was going to be irritating. No one ever said that except they were uncomfortable with his marriage to Elan. ‘ Yeees?’

Tekla quickly recovers and takes the hand joyfully, ‘Good morning. I am Tekla, these are my sisters Meline, Penrice and Jenny. We are -’ 

Al, ‘My, my Elan’s Sisters! My wife’s Sisters! My God you guys are just the same, your mannerisms, look ... just like Elan describes!’ Al is surprised at how much they look like Elan. 

Jenny, ‘She talks about us?’

Al frowns, though rarely, they were the only people Elan talked about aside from their dreams and relationship – 50%, their business - 45%. ‘Of course! But I thought you were three not four’ 

Penrice, ‘Meline is our cousin sister. Hope she says good stuff-’ 

Mostly she talked about the stupid things they did growing up and Al remembers this and smiles, ‘She misses you, lots!’

Meline, still surprised that Elan's husband is really young, good looking and not incapacitated repeats her comment now in her usual derogatory tone, ‘You are young!’

Al, not one to let things slide and tackling them head on like its football, sharply retorts, ‘You already said that. Were you expecting Elan to be married to some grotesque haggard? She is a fabulous woman you know.’ And that settles it. For the rest of their stay, Al doesn't hear any mention of his look or inference to his age or his wife’s. 

He shows them to the sofa, ‘Please have a seat. Tea? coffee?’ 

Meline, almost spiteful, ‘It is too hot. I am sweating allover, is this the Lagos you guys keep talking about? Mombasa is much better aih!’

Jenny, trying to make the visit more friendly and cover her cousins sin, ‘Dawa ya moto ni moto. I will have tea please, Penrice, Tekla?’

The other two sisters ask for tea while Meline eventually accepts a cold drink while still whining. The sisters easily strike rapport with Al while Meline is the odd one out but eventually her bad attitude is overcome by all the positivity as the girls make small talk about Lagos and laugh at Al's jokes. He shows them different views of Lagos from his window, while Meline sits sulking. Al eventually calls in Dela and delegates what he was doing, ensures his meetings are postponed or handled by someone else and sets out to spend the day with the sisters. They eventually leave for lunch. 

They go to a restaurant. It is quite nice and exotic with beautiful African decor. 

Al, ‘Elan loves this place hope you will like it. It’s run by a Kenyan and you will be able to get some home meals ...’

In Unison Tekla and Meline speak at the same time. Meline goes, ‘Oh dear! hope they also have Nigerian food. What is the point of coming all the way to eat what we left home!’ Surprising for the others except Al who has no clue what transpired the night before.

While Tekla goes, ‘Lovely! ... Really Meline you have been complaining about the ’pepe’ ever since we came.’

Al laughs, thankful for his wife's wide taste and tutoring him on different restaurants in Lagos and Abuja. Elan had a way of sourcing out the finest restaurants immediately she got to town. Being petite and hardly ever finishing a meal, one would not expect this form her but it was one of many unique and unexpected characters Elan had, making her ever interesting to hangout with. It had become their special pastime that came in handy when they were not entertaining at home. 

He goes on to elaborate, ‘It’s an African restaurant you get to choose from West African, Ethiopian, Ugandan, Kenyan dishes and many others. The only thing you will not get is fries and burgers.’

The waiter comes and gives them their menus. Al continues to make small talk as they go through the menus, ‘So I trust Dela already told you about the party tomorrow. We will be having 100 of our close friends and family come over for Elan and the babies’ home coming.

Tekla, ‘100? thought it was a small party’ considering they were in the city, why so many people? she wondered.

Penrice, nudges and whispers to Tekla. ‘Wewe usituaibishe mia labda ni chache kwao, Sherehe zao ni za mji Mzima!’ 

Al,  ‘Well my family is large and we are all either in Lagos or Abuja. I am sure if we were in Kenya - back home,l shags, 100 would be a small number?’ 

Tekla, ‘Well, when you put it like that; Our grandfather was polygamous so our immediate family is slightly over 100 people – and when you add three generations...’ 

Al smiles, that was just about what Elan had told him. ‘Ok, so may be you want something added for the function tomorrow. I can drop you home after this or take you shopping.

Meline finally brightens up, actually glows so excited but no one let’s her talk. Tekla pinches her under the table while Jenny gives her the eye. She straightens up and sulks. Penrice speaks before she can open her mouth again.

Penrice, ‘Oh that will not be necessary. We already came with some gifts from home. Our cousins, aunties, uncles and the kids sent us with some gifts.’

The food comes and as they start eating Meline’s mind wanders away. She is thinking - I better change my game. I am not taking control of this group and they will stop me from achieving the mission for this trip. I need everyone to communicate through me not shut me up. What to do? whaaat to do?


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