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The Six People You Meet in the Nigerian Workplace

A woman at work tired of gossips. Photo Everyday Feminism

Little Miss Sunshine
This girl makes Mother Teresa look like Hitler. Her presence is so pure, so clean and filled to bursting with good intentions you flinch and squint a little when you look at her like you’re looking directly into the sun. When you read her emoji-packed have a great day! text messages you can feel your teeth rotting in your head with the overload of gooey saccharine sugary goodness and diabetes. Everyone loves her. Even that one grumpy security guard who never smiles and looks at you like he’s a warden and you’re a prisoner of war in a concentration camp, always waves to her and calls her “baby girl”. When she comes in, in the mornings’ everyone gushes greetings with such enthusiasm you wonder if she’s the incubator of some addictive drug like a disease that makes even the most embittered I’ve been working here since the dinosaur era crone wish her a good day. When she sneezes, it’s a state of national emergency. Meanwhile, when you fall down the stairs headfirst and shatter both your femurs everyone glares at you for making noise.

The Loudmouth
He just doesn’t know how to shut up. Imagine nails scratching against a chalkboard, a fire alarm, an all-male football audience after a goal and the sound of a thousand champagne glasses shattering at once. The sound doesn’t compare to the sound of his voice. Fifteen-minute anecdotes about going to the bathroom, twenty-minute “conversations” where he yells at you about how big his girlfriend’s assets are, become commonplace. You don’t know how much longer you can take this. You start to avoid him, hiding under staircases, ducking under your desk and holding files over your face so he doesn’t catch sight of you and start to scream at you about his super interesting ringworm infection. When he calls your phone asking if you’re sick ‘cause he hasn’t seen you in a while, you hold your nose to distort your voice and act like the network is bad.

The Miriam
Remember the Sunday school story of Miriam, Moses’ sister who gossiped 24/7, caught leprosy and lost some fingers for it? For some reason, there’s a strong correlation between women like this and having absolutely terrible makeup. She’s as desperate for attention as she is for a man and is always asking who’s single in your family. Her mouth works like an Instagram filter turning even the ugliest looking fisherwoman into a clear-skinned supermodel: Someone dropping their mug in the kitchen turns into a ten-minute epic about someone throwing their mug at the boss out of rage; a minor dispute turns into a fistfight where someone ended up hospitalized and may never walk again. When she gossips, whispers and spreads rumours about you all you can do is laugh, at least you don’t go home and cry into a tub of Cold Stone ice cream.

The D-List Romcom
There’s two of them but they’re one person in terms on how singularly annoying they are. He’s desperately in love with her and not the sweet you make me laugh and I’ve never felt more alive than I am when I’m with you kind of love but the Disney romance type that gets 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and the lead actress, after her career takes off, never speaks about in interviews again. She acts like she doesn’t care but she’s secretly mushy inside for him. Their relationship is an interactive group sport and you aren’t sure who you hate more: them or the office perpetuating the charade. The minute your handbag grazes your desk when you arrive in the morning you’re bombarded with details about unanswered texts, midnight phone calls and weekend sightings at the Cinemas. The office practically froths at the mouth as they speak, everyone gathering around to swap information like back alley drug deals and eyeing the door waiting expectantly for them to arrive like overweight bespectacled acne spattered geeks sleeping in tents for tickets to the new Avengers film. Eventually, you’re sucked into it like bad reality television, gaping at cheating accusations over coffee and flicking through their social media accounts studying the boy toys and side chicks they’re using to make the other jealous.

The Robot
This person looks like they keep human hands in their freezer. No one knows where they live, what their last name is, if they have parents or if they were found in a radioactive bush ten steps away from a crashed UFO. You wouldn’t be surprised to find out they were a serial killer. And if they aren’t, it’s only a matter of when. They are utterly silent at meetings. They’re constantly wearing headphones and earphones. They make direct eye contact with walls in the rare instances they speak to you and when they do speak, it’s slow, automated and cold like metal given life or a robot that’s been taught to imitate human speech. Siri has more vocal range than this person. They don’t seem to eat, blink or breathe. Their work is handed in perfectly on time like clockwork with not so much as an asterisk out of place. The second the big hand and little hand meet on the clock they’re gone so quickly you wonder if they were ever really there. Everyone is quiet and polite in their arctic chilly presence. When they get promoted which they always eventually do, everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

The Big Bad Boss
This guy makes Satan look like an upper-middle-class soccer mom who causes the sins of the world part-time. He needs a mug with World’s Worst Boss on it, with the Boss scratched out with a permanent marker to say human being alive. When he walks down the hallways, people freeze, prey in the face of a predator, their eyes going wide and the hair-raising on the back of their neck. When he speaks, you resist the urge to prostate on the floor and offer your life as nourishment. The legends about him vary, from rumours saying he threw a chair at a pregnant woman who asked for maternity leave to making all his interviewees cry to him sleeping in a coffin and subsisting on human blood and fear. You aren’t sure which is true but you believe all of them and carry a piece of garlic in your pocket whenever he calls you to his office just in case.

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