Celebrating East African Writing!
It’s a hot Thursday afternoon when, after many applications sent and no replies, not even a single regret letter, I deliriously receive a phone call to report for an interview the next Monday, 2.20pm sharp, at a security company.
I haven’t eaten lunch, on account of having spent all my allowance on bus fare and the internet, but I spend the rest of the day on cloud nine. Suddenly the sky looks much bluer, the cars look great and Nairobi babes have never been more beautiful. As I stroll out of Burger Dome, I encounter a Kenchic. While before I would have stared longingly at the Kuku ‘porno’ from outside, now I only stare nonchalantly, importantly deciding my daily menu once I start drawing a salary.
I stand there quite a while, and then drift off aimlessly, dreaming the day away. Quickly, it passes and I head home.
Friday comes and I’m beginning to get agitated. I can’t wait for Monday to land. The butterflies in my stomach slowly turn into stones as the flutter in my heart turns into a dull ache. My blood pressure slowly tends upwards. Saturday and Sunday, hitherto my favourite days of the week, now seem an interminably long gap between my date with employment. Slowly they come around and slowly they crawl by.
Finally Monday checks in. I wake up bright and sharp and make straight for the shower. The interview might be in the p.m. but I need to set things off early so I can be “in the zone.” I am not blowing this. No way. The only thing getting blown today is the interview panel…away! I know I can do it. Why not? I’m a fairly smart guy with a decent education background behind me, right? Just replace “girl” with “job” in that Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton song and you can get an idea how totally determined I am.
After cleaning up and dressing up in my good shirt and only tie (Note to self: Upgrade formal wardrobe) I sit down with a cup of coffee, pen and paper and begin anticipating questions and drafting answers. I know what you’re thinking; Why did I wait this long? Well, I work best under pressure.
Anyway, by 12 o’clock I’m pretty much through and totally primed for the session ahead of me. I’m “in the zone”. As a last thing, I slide in a DVD of one of the more meaningful movies of the year, “In Pursuit of Happiness”, and watch a dishevelled and paint streaked Will Smith, a.k.a. David Gardner, impress the hell out of an interview panel with his quick wit and easy charm.
That’s how I’m going to do it. Serious but witty. Humorous but respectful. Earnest but honest. That’s how you get a job.
At 1 o’clock I switch off the movie and leave for the interview. I plan to arrive well in good time. No sense running there like David Gardner and getting all sweaty. On my way out, I grab a snack and a glass of juice. When “in the zone’, you don’t need to eat.
Two o’clock. I’m in the gleaming reception of the company. The receptionist, quite a cute slim lady, smiles at me. That’s nice. She remembers my name and points to a seat. That’s assuring.
I survey my fellow interviewees and think, “The competition doesn’t look too stiff”. One of them is a hot babe with very excellent legs, though. I hope we both get the job so I can get to know her better.
It’s exactly 2.15. They call my name. Thank God I came early. Confidently I follow the member of staff to the interview room where I am warmly greeted by a panel of two and offered a seat. In front of me is a glass of water and it strikes me how thoughtful these guys are. I ask permission and take a sip. The panel are two fairly young men, one of an Asian-African origin and the other simply an African. I guess they’re in their mid-thirties.
I came armed with my papers but they don’t seem too interested in them. Immediately, they start asking me personal questions. Where do I live? What do my family members do? What’s my take on Capital Punishment? What about abortion? I give an honest, somewhat dangerous answer and hope the Asian dude isn’t a Muslim. The African dude, his lips have the tint of a bona fide smoker. So I’m not worried about his religious hang-ups. They throw at me some real life hypotheticals. You know, like what would I do if I was the captain of a sinking ship? But I excel in the art of the conversation, so things go well. In fact they go so well we even josh some. At one point I even wonder if one of them won’t break out a beer or something. I crack a little joke. They crack up.
Then we move on to more serious matters. What’s customer care? How would I deal with a belligerent customer? What’s the difference between internal and external publics? How would I deal with a difficult co-worker? I answer each question extremely well and without missing a beat. I impress the heck out of these guys. They ask me what I expect to earn if I get the job. I tell them around 30,000shs. The Asian rolls his eye, the African laughs. I chuckle a little nervously. We engage in some more banter. More laughter follows.
Finally, we shake hands warmly and they promise to get back to me by the end of the week. On the ride home I’m ecstatic, enveloped in a warm cloud. I simply know I just got myself employed.
On Thursday (What’s with these guys and Thursdays? Hire and fire day?), I get a call to show up on Monday to meet the M.D. The M.D.!! Sweet Mary!! Thank you!! Job world, here I come!
At 8 o’clock, on a sunny Monday morning. I ‘m in the reception again in a different shirt and the same tie. Just before I’m called in, the hot babe with very excellent legs steps out of the M.D.’s office looking really happy and I think, “Great, am going to enjoy working with you”. They call me and I knock on the door with a serious face on.
The M.D. is an Asian, about 60 years old, sitting in a large chair. I’m better dressed than him. The man is in an open necked shirt that looks like it wasn’t ironed. There’s a gold chain around his neck. “Ah, the liberties of money and power”, I think.
He asks me to sit down as he casually glances at what I can see is my C.V. I sneak a peek at the interview panel’s comments. They gave me high ratings. Of course. So I relax and face the M.D. with a respectful smile. He says this is just a formality for him to get to know me. He asks me a few personal questions and then inquires what I know about his company’s security systems. I answer this particularly well as just five minutes earlier I had been reading their sales brochure in the reception. Then out of the blue he hits me with it.
Do I drink? Puzzled, I answer in the affirmative. What’s the point in lying? Besides, he looks like a man not averse to a stiff drink himself. Then he wants to know, “Do you smoke?” Now this is getting weird. But I do smoke, so sure, “Yes”, I say.
Now his face clouds over and he goes a little quiet. As if on cue a chilly draft blows into the room. I’m struck by a nasty visual. I’m in a bad cowboy movie. In the town square. It’s high noon. Some bad dude and I are eyeball to eyeball, boot toe to boot toe, fast hands hanging above gun holsters. Only I’m not so fast. My nemesis asks me in a scratchy, nasty little voice, “Feeling lucky…., punk?” A ball of bunched up hay rolls across my view and blows away. Then I get blown away.
With sickening formality, the M.D. folds my C.V. and, with a gravely voice, says, “Thank you for coming, we’ll give you a call by the end of the week”.
I walk out of the place and with a heavy heart, board a matatu for home. As I shuffle through the streets of town, I come across a Kenchic. The Kuku ‘porno’s’ look really fresh and delicious this time of the morning. I stare aimlessly. Got that sinking feeling, you know?
Thursday comes and goes. No call. Friday. Saturday. Monday. Tuesday…..By now, reality has sunk in. I get the message.
I just wonder. The hot babe with very excellent legs, kwani she doesn’t pint?