“Why do you only defend mistreated workers?” My client asked me on our way back from the High court. I smiled at her,
“It’s the least I could do”
The incident was fresh in my memory. It wasn’t something someone could forget. When I remember it, which is ever so often, I’m filled with sadness and guilt.
A couple of years ago, my friends and I went to eat at a restaurant. It was a normal routine for us, every first Saturday of the month, we would select a random five star restaurant and go chill out. As successful female lawyers in our mid twenties, it was a break so desperately needed and our opportunity to”man hunt” as we liked to call it.
My friends and I, we weren’t exactly nice people. We were a stereotype. Rich, spoilt girls who looked down on others because they weren’t in our “class”. We were savage and rude and intimidating and we liked it. Up until that day.
After ordering our food in the VIP section, we started first by boasting about the cases we had won, the vacations we had gone on, one of our former mates that we had seen job hunting, a low class boy who had come to toast us, we were so engrossed in our conversation that we hardly even noticed the waitress who was clearing the table to prepare for our second course to be served.
Then Tomiwa, flung her hand up while laughing hysterically and the cleaning agents on the waitresses tray spilled all over the place. I saw what had happened clearly, it was Tomiwas fault and I knew that but before I could say anything, my other friends pounced on her
“Are you out of your mind?”
“This girl must be stupid”
“Do you know how much these shoes
The shock from the sudden verbal attack was beginning to wear off and the waitress was on her knees apologising and frantically trying to clean up
“Madam please I’m sorry. I’m so sorry”
“Sorry?” Tomiwa flared “would sorry fix my shoes? These are custom made you know? Where is you boss? Call him”
I should have said something, I should have stopped it at this point, but I didn’t. Till today, I still don’t know why. I wasn’t scared of my friends, I was just as vicious as them, but still, I didn’t.
“Madam please, please ma, I just got this job, I can’t afford to loose it. Please ma”
“What’s happening here?”
We all looked up to see the person the question had come from
“Are you the manager of this place” Kemi, another one of my friends asked
“Yes ma’am, what happened?”
Tomiwa quickly narrated the story to the man, leaving out the part where this was all her fault. I still said nothing, infact, I giggled at something Kemi said about the waitresses old fashioned shoes and watched as she followed her boss behind to receive some scolding.
When they were out of sight, that’s when I spoke
“But Tomiwa, you know that you’re the one that hit her right?
She simply laughed
“Sure na. But someone had to pay for ruining my new shoes”
And you know what I did? I laughed alongside my other friends. I laughed at the innocent waitress we had just victimised. I can’t think of a crueller thing to do. She was surely getting fired and we knew that
We hadn’t even finished our meal, when there was a shrill scream from the kitchen
“Somebody please help!”
We all rushed over to see what had happened. Not surprisingly, it was our victimised nurse, with a slit wrist, covered in her own blood
“Call an ambulance right now” I said to Tomiwa in a voice that I could hardly recognise.
The waitress didn’t die, but that didn’t matter. She could have, and it would have been all our fault. Tomiwa took it harder than the rest of us. She quit her job and left the country, said she kept seeing the waitress in her dreams.
The guilt was too much for all of us to remain friends. Seeing each other just reminded us of things we all wanted to forget. But the guilt also drove us to be better people