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“Congratulations!” Jo says on the other end of the phone. I smile, feeling the warmth of this lovely Wednesday morning in which I have turned up to work feeling fresh as a daisy and like the whole world has started anew. In front of me is the newspaper column item that Jo is congratulating me for.

It’s a job notice conveying news of my appointment, in acting capacity, to the post of managing director.

“It’s so nice to wake up to good news and a great picture in the newspaper,” she says.

“Isn’t it just? And there’s more good news.” I proceed to tell her all about the events of the previous day that saw Frank the perv exit the building.

“That’s wonderful news!” she says. “And … how is it going on the Chris front?”

I sigh sadly. “I haven’t heard from him since that email, but that’s okay since I haven’t replied to it yet.”

“I understand,” she says. “So what now? You’re single?”

“I guess I am officially single once again,” I shrug. “Perhaps this is my destiny — to be a career woman and not a love and romance woman.”

“No, that’s not true,” Jo says. “I believe there is a man for you out there. But you need to be more careful about who you date going forward.”

“Why?” I lean forward in my chair, wondering if Jo is questioning my sense of judgement — although I must admit, it has not been the best in the past and I am not surprised she would have concerns.

“Because, at your stature, you will find that there are a lot of young men out there who are looking for sugar mummies to take care of them. And a lot of men who think that you will support their lazy, jobless behinds in exchange for them keeping you company.”

My eyes open wide; I mean; I am not surprised by what Jo is saying; I just never thought I would ever fall into that ‘sugar mummy’ category. “But which women are these who are willing to support lazy men?” I ask her.

“You’d be surprised,” she says. “There are many women with money out here who don’t mind paying for a man’s way through life just to stave off the loneliness.”


“I think it’s even lonelier to have to pay someone to give you some attention and affection. Isn’t that just prostitution?” I can even feel a chill run down my spine at the thought of it.

“Yea, but what do you do? Single, eligible men our age are thin on the ground — and even when they are there, they are busy chasing young girls in tight clothes and lots of make-up. Men don’t want to be with a woman who challenges them.”

I frown and bite my lip; I don’t want to imagine that I am consigned to a life of single-hood just because all the eligible men in my age bracket think I am too much headache. I tell Jo as much.

“The problem with you, Liz, is that you are constantly looking out for that unicorn of a man. And that leaves you wide open to being misused.”

I protest loudly. “But Jo, there’s seven billion people on this planet and if half of them are men, there must be someone in that 3.5 billion who fits me just right.”

Jo laughs. “Fine. You keep dreaming. Your dreams might turn to reality. But remember, just be very careful.” I smile and thank her for her care and concern, and then tell her that I have to go because I hear someone knocking on my office door, reminding me that I have a full day of work ahead of me.

As soon as I hang up and the door opens, Julius the HR director walks in. “The first item on our agenda is to find a new factory manager,” he tells me as he sits down.

“How about we promote his assistant — the guy who’s currently there?”

Julius shakes his head. “Yea, I have forgotten his name too — that’s how unmemorable he is. Even if we hire him, we need to open up the process to a few other candidates to make sure we are getting the best person for the job.”

I nod my head. “Ok, start the call for applications. What else is on your agenda?”

“We need to talk about Louise,” he says. And I brace myself for what is likely to be a difficult conversation.