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things change

September 21, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments

No condition is permanent. I hear people say that from time to time, but I don’t think most understand just how true that statement is or the gravity of it. I recently came across a touching story on Facebook which I’ve decided to share here. Nothing, but the true names of the individuals involved, has been changed.

In 2010, I was a senior manager in a nice firm. My future was bright in the company and I was highly recommended for head of my department. There was another rising star as well. His name is Jacob.

I tutored Jacob and tried to manage his excesses because he was exceptionally brilliant. But, he was lazy and carefree. Hardly would he take corrections and rarely would he apologize. My other colleagues wondered what I saw in him, but it’s probably because they weren’t working directly with him. I knew his type: he hated structure and would never last under a corporate environment. Still, he was a brilliant strategist. I handled him well, and our results together with others on my team, was highly commendable.

There came a time I was having marital issues, and for this reason, I had little patience with Jacob and his shenanigans. I was short-tempered with him, but he had gotten so used to me managing his excesses that he didn’t take my anger seriously. Within two weeks, I had given him 3 queries; this meant dismissal. When I was asked by HR if I truly wanted to let him go, I could not care less. I had my own problems and was not in the mood to babysit anyone anymore.

Three years later, I lost my job because the company was downsizing and top management was also affected. I foolishly assumed I would get a job anywhere, so initially, I wasn’t worried. But 12 months in, I was still searching and my savings was dwindling fast. I decided, since I wasn’t getting any job offers, I’d drive my SUV as a cab for those commuting from the airport. This was better than waiting around for nothing.

The cab gig, surprisingly, was not doing badly as I was picking up and dropping off esteemed clients. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was steady. In July 2016, an esteemed client asked me to pick up his friend from the airport because his driver had flaked on him. This person I was to pick up would turn out to be Jacob.

When he called to confirm his location, I instantly recognized his voice. My heart plunged, but I couldn’t reject the job and disappoint a long-term client. Jacob exited the airport with hand luggage only, so there was no need for me to alight from the car. As he got in the car, I looked back from the driver’s seat to greet him, but he was distracted on the phone and never looked up to notice me. He only answered my greeting and asked me to get going.

As I drove him all the way to a hotel on the Island, I had tears in my eyes. He looked like he was doing well, his conversations on the phone also showed that he was in control. Jacob had done well for himself and I was now driving him. Life is tricky and has a way of making you the butt of its joke. I cannot lie, I was ashamed, but I never would have forgiven myself if I let him go without letting him know I was proud of him.

When we got to the hotel, I quickly got down from the car to open his door. This was when he noticed me. He was speechless for a while, then he said in Yoruba, “Boss, have you been the one driving me the entire time?” He was shocked at first, but then, he hugged me tight. The tears finally poured. I can’t really say what I felt, but I didn’t expect that reaction.

“When I heard you were let go, I sent you a message on my other number to find out how you were, but you never responded”, he said, while still holding on to my shoulders. I was quiet. I remember receiving a message from him, but he was one of many that I thought had called or texted to pity me, and because I didn’t want anyone’s pity, I never responded.

Jacob made me park in the lot, and took me to his room to talk. He immediately told me about his new gig. After he was laid off, he got a consultation deal with a multinational, which opened doors for him into other multinationals. At the time, he had 15 people working for him, but was in desperate need of someone who does the same as him and whose competence, he wouldn’t have to worry about. He just wanted to focus more on bringing business to the company. Apparently, he had just found whom he had been looking for.

My life changed that day. I resumed work with Jacob the next week, and I have made sure since then to treat his company as if it were mine. I don’t know why he treated me so nicely after what I did to him, but as men, we have never talked about it. I am sure, though, that he can feel my gratitude in the way I work, and my zeal in doing all I can to make sure he doesn’t have to worry about the back-end.

I hope someone learns from this. Please always remember this story when you act without consideration of the other person’s future. If the world turns upside down, you may end up cleaning for your cleaner.

Life can change in an instant. Don’t ever look down on anyone; you don’t know who he/she could become tomorrow.

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