We were in the finishing stage of this particular project, when the internal auditors came. There were 5 people: three guys and two girls. All blonde, tall, very young, extremely diligent, always look serious, very intimidating, and gorgeous. The people in the office were anxious because these 5 people came from the headquarters (some country in Europe, that’s all I can say), and I guess it’s like an exam, all were questioned about how they’ve done their jobs by the 5 foreigners.
These 5 people were put in all-glass meeting room, where everybody can see what they’re doing on daily basis. Since the project was still 95% finished, I still must kept checking up on things everyday, so I walked pas the room like 100 times a day. No one in the room paid attention to what happened to the outside world.
Did I mention gorgeous? Good, remember that, because it’s linked to the title of this article.
As the project manager for this fit-out project, my job is to ensure that this office is delivered on time, within budget, and according to the required quality. So I manage the whole process, from initiation, design, tender and procurement, and of course, construction.
Being a project manager means I work with everybody: designers, contractors, suppliers, vendors, building managers, and of course clients. Everybody must report to me. Everybody must consult me if there is some issues raised during the process. I have to know to every single detail, from why the worker does not turn up so he hasn’t installed the door yet, until why my client doesn’t like oval-shape working desk. I have to know that my client prefers all white color-scheme, that we need a feng-shui master to tell him the most profitable office location, that we cannot order certain wallpaper because the delivery time is 3 months, that building manager must have 3 sets of drawing otherwise one will reject our work permit, and so on. I am the center of everything!
So of course I act like one accordingly. Like this particular day. We came to the project, ready for a weekly meeting, when the reception told us that the meeting was moved to one floor below. I was dressed to the nines. Black skirt, very serious blue shirt, black bag and black pumps. Everything I wore that day screamed “serious” and “important” (at least that’s what I wanted to present to the world….). I did feel important that day. We’re about to finish the project, and everything has been done wonderfully well. I was at the top of the world!
I told everybody to go to downstairs by fire staircase. And of course, everybody must follow me. No one thought to use elevator because it’s only 1 floor below. Beside, I took the staircase, so must everybody. I was at the front, Dina was behind me, and there were 3 other guys behind her.
When I opened the fire escape door, I bumped into one of the internal auditors. He smiled to me, and I smiled back. After a few seconds, when we’re reaching the stairs, I held the railings but my mind was still on the smiling event. I mean wow, this guy, a very important person, actually acknowledged my presence! I kept thinking about it until…………..
In a split second I missed the first two steps. I fell hard on the third step. My bum landed at the third step and kept meeting the steps until finally the gravity stopped working and I was on the bottom side of the staircase!
Omigod Omigod Omigod. Omigod Omigod Omigod.
Somehow I managed to keep my skirt intact (so no G-string showing) and to keep holding on to the railings with one hand. I didn’t roll down, I just looked like a bunny hopping from one step to the other one below, except I used my bum and entire left thigh, not my legs!
Those three guys and Dina rushed downstairs quickly, while I was still on the sitting position, trying to get back to a reality.
“Did it hurt?” one guy asked.
I looked up slowly, very slowly. Did he see what happened? My bum had just an intimate contact with a cold-cement staircase. And he asked if it hurt?
But I just shook my head.
The other guy and Dina took my documents which were scattered on the floor. I slowly felt my toes, my legs, then my arms. Everything can still move. No broken bones. I tried my shoes. The pointy heels were still strong. I looked at my bag, horrifyingly praying nothing would happen to my bag. Thank God it’s still in a perfect condition.
Then the embarrassment took over. What the hell happened? I just fell??? The pain on my entire left foot was suddenly gone. I felt my face’s getting red. I stood up.
“Can you walk?” Dina asked. I just nodded. My head was still spinning, my lung was about to explode because I cursed myself of being so careless, and my confidence was gone somewhere else. The guys looked worried, probably because I was supposed to do something girly at that point. Crying, maybe? Or asking them to help me walking to the meeting room?
We managed to get into the meeting room without any other incident. Then I saw my middle finger was bleeding. And my thigh was getting more hurtful every single second, and I swear I can feel the bruise on my both knees were getting bigger.
I opened my notebook, distributed the last week’s minutes of meeting and attendance list. I saw my hands were still shaking because of the shock, the pain on my entire body, and the embarassement that still hung in the air.
“Ok everybody, let’s start! Last week we discussed about….”
After all, I am still the project manager.
Moral of the story: when you are at the top of the world, look down occasionally, you’d never know when you’d trip and fall down. But when you do fall, do it gracefully, keep the skirt and dignity intact!
Oh and if a cute guy smiles at you, keep watching your step!
Related article: Fall From Grace (2)