He couldn’t look me in the eye, not because he was shy but because his gaze was too busy ravaging over the length of the rest of me. Suddenly as his eyes fell on the part of my upper leg that was showing I felt slightly self-conscious.
I tugged at the hem of my grey pencil skirt, trying to cover up my lower thigh which I realized was only showing because my legs were crossed, causing my skirt to ride up. I uncrossed my legs as quickly as I could without raising suspicion. I heard him sigh.
I coughed, “So, umm, back to my qualifications. I did work as an intern at Abishua and Wendo Co. Advocates Firm for a little while before they offered me a job but we had a,” I paused trying to figure out how to phrase it, “misunderstanding.”
I still had a bitter taste in my mouth thinking back on my experience. After graduating with my degree, fresh faced and completely naïve to the ways of the world I was an excited twenty three year old ready to conquer anything that threatened to come in my way. My GPA was exceedingly above and beyond, and I graduated with honors so it didn’t take too long to get an internship. There were a few of us taken on as interns at the same time, myself, Tim, and Rick.
It didn’t take long for me to start noticing little things here and there, at the firm by our boss, Mr. Kimachia. He was old, probably older than Dracula and just as cold; simply because he hated women. I was the only woman who worked under him so I would know. From the moment I was hired to hearing him having a heated conversation in undertones with the employee who hired me in his office, to watching Tim and Rick being offered full time positions after their internship was over while I was passed by.
I never took it seriously because I knew I worked five times harder than anyone else, and somehow it was bound to pay off in the end but the never ending errands and numerous amount of time wasted being sent to get coffee for the guys became agitating. Then he would make slight comments here and there. The last straw was our final conversation which started out similar in content to previous conversations.
“You know my wife is a great woman. She stays home and cooks and cleans, and takes care of our children.”
Being polite I would respond, “Well that’s nice.”
“Do you want to get married some day? Have children of your own?”
Then he had the audacity to ask, “Or are you playing for the other team?”
Confused I looked up at him, thinking I had misheard, “sorry?”
“Are you, you know?” He moved his hands in the air on an invisible wave in a crooked motion and it started to dawn on me what he meant. I folded my arms in front of my chest.
“No actually I don’t know. What exactly are you implying sir?”
He held up his hands in a surrender motion, “Hey I’m not one to judge. I just think it would be important for me as your boss to know whether you were straight or not. I understand in this generation anything goes though in my day we understood core value systems to the very root.”
I looked at him astounded, “How dare you?!”
“Okay, okay I am sorry if I offended you. So let me just ask then why the hell do you want to be a lawyer? It is a man’s world you know? You will be eaten alive!”
“For your information I am a strong, independent woman who is able to accomplish anything I put my mind to. I am just as capable, if not more so as any other man in this field.”
He snorted, “you should be grateful for the advice I am about to give you. Quit now while you are still ahead, look for a man who can support you! You are fairly pretty young lady; I’m pretty sure finding one to your liking would not be hard at all.”
“Stupid fool.” I mumbled under my breath.
“What did you just say?” He looked like he was about to hit me, and I realized I should not mess with men like this.
“I asked whether you realize that your boss is a woman. Your boss, Ms. Wendo? The soon to be Mrs. Abishua?”
He looked taken aback, but only for a second before he recovered his composure, and sneered at me again. This sneering was getting out of hand.
“She’s the only reason you are here you know? Something about not having enough women in this firm but let me tell you something once I talk some sense into Mr. Abishua he will be not only hiring men for the best of the company but also dumping that good for nothing woman who doesn’t know the first thing about being a lawyer. My first bet would be that she is just using him for the money.”
I stood in shocked silence for a moment appalled at how he was unashamedly talking about his boss in such a manner.
“I wonder how she would react if she knew how you felt?”
He smiled, and if I was a child I would have genuinely been terrified of that crooked smile that resembled in likeness so much that of an evil villain’s. “Too bad there is no one to tell her.”
I restrained myself from appearing weak and matched his body stance and voice tone, “Try me.”
“As of now Ms. Vivian, you are no longer working for this firm. Please pack your things and leave as soon as possible.”
“You are not serious?”
“I am the most hardworking intern in this building, yet I have not complained once about the obvious sexist treatment I receive from you and some of the other men in this building.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself for stooping so low as to make such bitter accusations Ms. Vivian. You do understand this is a prestigious law firm and such behavior is not only petty but disgraceful as well.” He walked out, leaving me standing there like a fool.
“Vivian, hello, Vivian.” The man who sat behind the desk directly opposite me had stood up without me realizing.
I blinked severally, “sorry I spaced out a little, you were saying?”
His eyes turned dark, like a predator eyeing its prey. “I was saying,” he walked around the table even closer until he was just inches away from me. “What if we scratched each other’s backs?” He paused.
“You do me…” He ran his fingers down my arm in a way that gave me chills. “A favor? And I will do you one as well?”
“What are you talking about?” I restrained to keep my voice from visibly shaking.
“Ohh please, a pretty, ambitious, young lady like you? I am sure you would do anything to get what you want , and it just so happens that I am about to be made partner and my name will be up on those doors pretty soon”. His fingers slowly drifted lower and lower until they were dangerously close to reserved places. I jumped up as a feeling of dread swept over me.
“I think,” I swallowed, “I think this was a mistake.” I half walked, half run out of the room without looking back.
I gasped at the fresh air as soon as I left the building. What was wrong with the world?! I felt like screaming but I restrained myself, like I always did, playing the part of the reserved future lawyer. To hell with it all, to hell with men! Did they still think that they were superior enough to dominate us? To dominate me? I reminded myself what I told that caveman in the previous office.
“I am a strong, independent woman who is able to accomplish anything I put my mind to. I am just as capable, if not more, so than any other man in this field.” If it was a man’s world girls would not have been created and I sure as hell would not be present.
I was so consumed by these self-empowering thoughts; I almost missed hearing the sound of my phone ringing.
“Hi Ms. Vivian, this is Ms. Wendo from Abishua and Wendo Co. Firm, though you can call me Sheila. I was just wondering if we could meet for coffee sometime this week.”
“Oh this is a surprise, if you don’t mind my asking Ms. We- I mean Sheila. What exactly is this about?”
There was silence on the line for a few seconds.
“Well I won’t discuss it in detail over the phone, but I recently became aware of the vile conduct of one of our employees, a Mr. Kimachia. I also became aware of your outstanding credentials and hard work. You may not be able to forgive us but I do believe if you did you would be a great asset to our firm.”