SAMUEL COBBY GRANT
Kuuku woke up early, at about 5:00 a.m. He made his bed, tidied up the house and had his bath. He then watched CNN on the 40 inch TV mounted on the wall in his single room self contained apartment as he sipped Milo from a mug. It was a pleasant enough room. He had everything needed to make his bachelor’s pad comfortable.
He lived just a kilometre away from the Tobacco Factory he worked as an Operator of the Cutting Machine. The cutter compressed the processed tobacco stems and cut them into the required pieces to be later mixed with cut tobacco leaves for the making of cigarettes.
The Section he worked in was known as the Primary Manufacturing Section where raw tobacco leaves were moisturized, threshed and the leaves separated from their stems. They were then put into Silos to be cut into tiny strands before being sent to the Making Department for the making of cigarette sticks. From there too, they were sent to the Packing Section to be packed into packets and boxes. All these were done by machines. The Operators and Factory Hands just ensured that the entire operations went on smoothly.
It was time to leave for work in no time. He put on a blue checked short-sleeved shirt with ash-coloured American khaki trousers to match. He then made his way to the junction to pick a taxi to the factory. From the junction to the factory was so short a distance that he walked most of the time, especially whenever it was difficult to get a cab.
Regardless of that, he waited and after 10 minutes, when he was thinking of walking, a sleek White coloured Hyundai Mini bus stopped right in front of him. Its glass slid down, and cool air from the vehicle’s air-condition drifted towards him. The driver, who could be a few years older than him asked in a pleasant voice.
“Please, can you direct me to the Cigarette Factory?”
“It’s not too far from here. It’s just ahead of you, at the roundabout,” he said.
“Are you going in that direction, I can give you a lift.”
“Actually, that’s where I work,” KL said, heaving a great sigh of relief.
“Great, hop in then.”
He jumped in, fastened the seat belt and saw that there was another occupant in the bus, a lady, sitting in the back with her earpieces fixed to her ears, and going through her phone, obviously oblivious of what was going on around her.
“That’s Pat, she’s going to work at your workplace,” said the man who introduced himself as Nana Yaw.
Pat then raised her head to look at him. She nodded once and turned back to her phone.
They soon got to the parking lot of the factory, and Nana Yaw zoomed off after Pat and Kuuku had alighted.
Pat was wearing a stylishly sewn cream blouse with a skirt that stopped above her knees, with nice pair of soft leather shoes adorning her feet.
“Where can I find Mr Kyei?” she asked him in a breathless voice.
He glanced up and was met with the clearest eyes he had ever seen in a person. Her eyes up close seemed as if she was in a perpetual state of astonishment; and her lips, full and succulent. He caught himself staring and replied stammering.
“That…is … the Factory … Manager I…I would show you. Please follow me.”
He took her to the Reception and handed her over to the Receptionist.
“Oh thank you. I guess I will see you later,” she said in that breathless voice of hers. He murmured something in reply and left for the locker room to change into his Working Gear.
An hour later, when he was fine-tuning the Cutting Machine, he saw the Production Manager, Mr Mustapha, showing Pat, the new employee around the production line, as a sort of Orientation. They had started at the threshing line and were approaching the Cutter where he was. He was a bit surprised because junior staffs were not normally taking around the production line in that way, by the Almighty Production Manager himself. They soon got to him.
“Laing, this is Miss Patricia Graham, our new Human Resource Manager.”
She shook his hand and gave him a wink.
“How does your machine work?” she asked in that sweet voice of hers.
He explained, going into every little detail.
“You said CPI. What does that mean?” she asked, wanting to know more.
“It means Cut Per Inch. With this black knob, we can get any number of cuts we require from an inch of a tobacco leaf or stem,” he explained.
“I see. Thank you, Mr Laing,” she said and moved on to the next machine with Mr Mustapha. He was surprised to learn that Pat was the HR.
Kuuku thought she was maybe a factory hand at the Packing Section or even a Canteen staff due to her seemingly young age. He pegged her age to be around 22 years, give or take a year, but he later found out that she was 26 years old.
In about a couple of hours, he was done with the cutting of the brand of tobacco they were producing and went to the cold water dispenser to drink when he was informed by his supervisor that he had a call. He took the handset, thinking it could be one of his colleagues from another department.
“Hello,” he said playfully.
“Mr Laing?” she asked. “Please see me before you go to the Canteen.”
She hung up before he could say anything.
“Yes Ma’am,” he said into the silent handset.
He spent the rest of the morning cleaning the Cutter in readiness for the next operation whistling as he went about his duties. The Lunch Time alarm sounded and he put his tools down, washed his hands, his face and went to the Administrative Block after going through Security for a search on his body for cigarettes.
He entered her office after hearing her response to his knock. Her office was large and air-conditioned. It had a fridge, a TV, a comfortable couch with white blinds, just like the walls. It also had its own washroom.
“Please sit,” she said and continued with what she was typing on the desktop computer. She finished what she was doing, pushed back her swivel chair and said.
I was wondering if you can accompany me to the Canteen.”
“Sure, let’s go.”
She followed him to the Canteen building which had large panels of glass all around it.
“Ma’am, the Senior Staff section is up there,” he said when he saw that she was following him to the Junior Staff area.
“Don’t worry I’ll eat with you today to familiarize myself with it.”
The menus of the day were ‘yam with palaver sauce with chicken and meat’ and ‘rice with tuna sauce’. He chose yam and she chose rice.
She was jovial and chatty. She didn’t behave as if she was above him in rank or anything.
Pa Yaw, an electrician who wasn’t around when she was taken around sauntered over to their table to chat with them.
“I can see that you are new here,” he said and introduced himself
“Yes o, today is my first trip outside Accra,” she replied.
Encouraged, he continued.
“Maybe I can take you out this evening.”
“Awwww,” she said and winked at KL and said, “Maybe some other time.”
“Are you from the Packing Section, I heard they’ve taken on some new staff,” he pushed.
“Naa, am not,” she said, straight-faced.
“Production Account?” he asked inching closer to her. ”I can make you see heaven.”
“Nope,” she smiled. “I am the new HR Manageress.”
“Oh ok, oh okay,” he said, suddenly deflated. He left quickly with a lame excuse.
They had desserts, it was either oranges or ice cream. She had ice cream while he had orange.
“Kuuku, I will fall on you from time to time to help me with things as I am new here. Can I?” she asked.
“No problem, Ma’am,” he assured her.
“Please call me Pat.”
“Ok, Ma’am Pat.”
The rest of the day went well with Kuuku and his colleagues joking and gisting amongst themselves.
“I have heard that Killer has gotten himself a girlfriend,” Alontey said to the surprise of all as KL also known as Killer, had hitherto, not shown any interest in any of the opposite sex.
“Not me o,” he said, “she’s for Pa Yaw wai.”
“Am I crazy?” Pa Yaw said quickly ” I value my job wai.” He left quickly as if to distance himself from what was being discussed.
Kuuku and the others laughed at his apparent fear of the topic on board.
Soon it was 5:00 p.m. and Kuuku cleaned up at the washroom and left.
A salon car, a Mitsubishi Montero stopped right in front of him at the kerb and Pat who was at the back seat, beckoned on him to join her.
“Let me give you a lift. Where do you live?”
“Not far from where you saw me in the morning,” he replied, sitting beside her. And so that evening, Kuuku Laing, aka Killer, aka KL got a lift from beautiful Pat who happened to live about 200 metres away on the same stretch of Street with him.
To be continued…[insert-comment-form]
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