There are so many names to forget. Either friend or foe.
His last name is on the foyer’s entrance hall door and indicates he is the president of the company. There are other names on the wall below and all distinctively foreign, mostly German, and French. I usually check the weather app on my phone before leaving for the day, it’s easy. But that morning, I left the hotel without checking, and a light drizzle damped my hair. I’m in Geneva.
I had not been to this office before, as the company moved last year when the leadership changed. I used to visit Otto, a name I could always recall, a palindrome rhyming with grotto or lotto. That last one fits. He was my financial advisor. The new one’s last name is Zilkha, doesn’t rhyme with much, and I don’t know his first name yet. His father was supposed to take care of my account since Otto retired, but he had a sudden heart attack and died. His son inherited the business and he’s now our liaison.
I am waiting for the reason for being there to propel me forward and to ring the bell. I repeat to myself, I am here to understand what I own and where it’s invested. Ugh, it sounds bizarre even when I say it to myself, how is it possible I have no clue? Here you go again, judging, judging. OK, enough, I have my notebook in my leather purse. This time around I am going to take notes because whenever I come to meet with these people, I leave with a case of amnesia. I don’t recall anything that was said. Partly, this is their strategy, whatever is said or shown to me within these walls, must never leave, like in a conspiracy thriller. I wonder if this new Zilkha guy would let me take my notes back with me to the States?
I ring. I’m buzz into an office space, and a secretary welcomes me with a “Bonjour Madame.”
It’s a distinctively European office space, with wooden panels walls, and the smell of rich espresso in the air. She’s seating behind a desk.
“Sorry, I don’t speak French,” I tell her, “I’m here to see Mr. Zilkha, I’m Ms. Böhm.”
“Please take a seat. Mr. Zilkha will be with you shortly; would you like a coffee?”
The leather couches are inviting, and I sit with my coffee. Business magazines are on top of the coffee table. I perused but I can’t keep my attention on anything.
A short guy, looking around my age, with dark brown hair walks towards me in resolute steps. He extends his arm for a handshake.
“Ms. Böhm, I’m Mark. Mark Zilkha?”
An English accent and not quite the foreign-sounding name I had hoped for. And Mark rhymes with shark.