It was 10am on Monday and Syafika was at work, although hardly anyone else was – there was nobody at any of the other desks in her room that day. It was the time of year that people were encouraged to take their annual leave. Syafika had hardly eased her way back into the work routine when her phone rang. She put down her cup of tea and answered. It was an urgent request from the Minister’s office for statistics to be used in a press release and they needed them before tomorrow. Syafika hadn’t before been directly asked for anything like this but because the management people in her area were all still away on holiday she was the only one to call. She hadn’t expected anything like this to happen – at this time of year nothing usually happened. Syafika took careful notes about the request and tried to remain calm but as soon as she hung up the phone she felt sweat dripping down her back.
“What am I going to do?” said Syafika, but there was nobody else around to hear her. So she called Fanta.
“Stay calm” said Fanta. “Do you understand what the request is for?”
“Yes” said Syafika “But I don’t know if I can get an answer, let alone get one today”
“Spend a bit of time thinking it through” said Fanta “Up to an hour. Write down what you know and what you don’t know and possible ways to find the information you don’t have. Then if you don’t know what to do, call me back.”
Syaf worked hard all day – no lunch break. Fanta called her at 6pm to see when she would be leaving. John and D’arby were at Fanta’s place and were waiting for Syafika to come for dinner and their Monday meeting. Syafika was really upset that she couldn’t make it. She still had at least another hour’s worth of work to do before she could leave.
It was dark when Syafika finally sent off the email with the advice, after having read it through to Fanta on the phone. Fanta reported that the meeting with John and D’arby had been quiet without her and she hadn’t missed anything important.
Usually Syafika took the stairs but it was too scary when the building was mostly dark. She took the lift and was surprised when it stopped at the floor below. A strange man got in the lift. He looked tired too. Syafika tried to smile at him but his unfriendly expression made her give up half-way.
When the lift stopped at the ground floor Syafika hurried to the exit, but when she got to the door she realized she didn’t have her swipe card in her hand. She was so tired that she couldn’t remember where it was. She started looking in her bag. The man from the lift didn’t seem to have his swipe card either. He patted his pockets and then started looking in his bag too.
Syafika was getting angry. Why couldn’t she just get out of the stupid building after such a long day!
The man shook his head. “What are the odds of both of us having lost our cards? I must have left mine on my desk” he said, and he walked back to the lift. Syafika realized that she might also have left her card on her desk, but didn’t want to go in the lift with the man again so she kept looking through her bag instead. She eventually found the card – she’d put it in the side pocket. Syafika felt she should wait in case the man couldn’t find his card. She imagined how awful it would be to be locked into the building overnight and wondered whether there was an emergency way out.
Syafika tapped her foot impatiently for five minutes before the lift arrived again. This time there was a woman in the lift with the man. Syafika recognized the woman – she was one of the Executive Directors. She seemed cross with the man – she hurried out in front of him, turning to say “I need it done by 10am tomorrow”.
When Syafika got home it was bedtime. She was so tired she didn’t have any dinner.