T for Tarmacking

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I was emotionally sick. The job was not coming. It was the same thing day in day out. “They’re not hiring,” my dad would come home with the news, his shoulders hunched and his face sullen as if he was the one job hunting and not me. He would then ask me to print more CVs. And I would go to the local cyber café. One look and the guy manning it would know I had come to print CVs again. That CV that read: Bcom, (major in Management Science), CPA section two, Accounting intern at Sarova Panafric and Finance intern at Sarova Stanley—but not even my previous employers wanted anything to do with me.

It would be six grueling months of locking myself up in my room, angry at the world for not giving me a job yet I had played by the book. I had gone to an ivy league university; Strathmore, by all standards, is the holy grail of gravy institutions. It is the Beatles of 8-4-4, the caviar of colleges. I had come out of it with a second class upper… well, it was in Management Science but that’s not the point. Up to today I still think I picked that major to rebel. If there was something that set me on the path to being a writer it was Management Science. I can’t tell you what it was about, not exactly. I can only tell you that it involved mathematics and statistics.

The days stretched out and it got even bleaker. I started to resent the words ‘Job’ and ‘CV’. They were all I heard about. I woke up in the morning and my mom asked if I had printed enough CVs for circulation. I sat down and without preamble one of my sister’s dived into my predicament, “I have sent your CV to so and so who is a tall figure in such and such a company, any minute now the job should be knocking at your door.” I looked at my dad and he said he hadn’t heard anything about a job yet. I sipped my tea and it tasted like, ‘job’ and ‘CV.’ I was going mad.

After the harassment I would go back to my sanctuary, my room, limping from the weight of joblessness, feeling insignificant, demoralized that I couldn’t get the one thing the 8-4-4 system had calumniated too. I felt small. My entire existence had been reduced to three words. I shut myself from the world. From the humdrum screaming of the word ‘job’, and I prayed to God for a job.

The interviews started trickling in around the fourth month. But none would take me up. I was even called by one of my dad’s friend. The one who is a lawyer. He has a feel about him that I don’t like. He talks and behaves as if he floats on air while the rest of us walk on God’s contaminated soil. I resented him in his custom suits and courtroom spiel but my dad swore by him. If I was Carel Fabritius, he was Rembrandt. If I was Eminem, my dad was convinced he was Dr. Dre.

“What is Management Science?” he started by asking. Not even a learned friend with all his books knew what it was. I screwed a nervous smile on my face. “Oh, Management Science? Well it involves mathematics and statistics…” I stammered then trailed off. He proceeded to pick a red pen and had a go at my CV. After he was done it looked like a bloodbath, like the battle of the bastards in Game of Thrones, with none of its poetry. “All these mistakes are the reason you’re not getting a job.” He ended his citation with a smack of his lips and a roll of his eyes.

It got so bad that my dad called me aside and with a face drenched in concern asked me if I was wearing clean boxers before going job hunting? He honestly believed that dirty boxers were keeping me from my dream job. I swear to God, you men need to stop taking advice from your drinking buddies. Yes, yes, I was washing my boxers for those waiting for an answer.

My dad really wanted me to work for a bank. “Have you applied to Equity? You can be a very big man there someday.” It is no wonder that he got me an interview at Consolidated Bank. I wore grey chinos, an ocean blue shirt and, of course, clean boxers. The honcho I met had a vacant feel to him. It was as if he met me to honor an agreement or to put a stop to some type of nagging; not to explore the possibility of gainful employment. Or maybe he didn’t have that kind of clearance because we sat in an empty boardroom and he kept looking over his shoulder as if a mosquito sat there. The meeting didn’t last more than five minutes. “I’ll get back to you,” he said, while turning his head, almost rupturing his neck. Of course he never did get back to me, even with my clean undies.

I gave my CV to banks, government institutions, insurance companies, hotels. If it was an organization in town I dropped my CV. Nothing gave until finally Sarova felt pity after my dad talked to a higher-up and I was called in for an interview. The position was for an assistant accountant in the Maasai Mara. An assistant accountant in the Mara? Heh. Well, beggars can’t be choosers. I wore a black suit and a white shirt for the interview and, of course, my signature attire, clean boxers. “What is Management Science?” the interviewer began ominously. I cleared my throat. “Oh, Management Science? Well, it involves mathematics and statistics.” Someone else got the job and I was back in my room sobbing.

My dad called another higher-up who I suppose was higher than the previous higher-up and I was called back for yet another interview. This time the position was for an assistant credit control officer for Sarova Panafric. Thank God the interviewer never asked what Management Science was. I was called for a second interview and after that the taps opened. I was on the phone with Scangroup for an internship.

Sarova called me for a third interview the same day I was taking oath of office at Scangroup. I had already made up my mind. I would give up a solid position as a credit control officer for an internship at an advertising agency. It was how the employees dressed, in jeans and funky hairdos. It was the pool table and the bar on the fifth floor that got my knickers in a twist. Sarova never stood a chance with their suits and credit control position.

They called later to give me a lecture for missing their interview and all the while I was thinking, ‘You mean you can dish it but can’t take it?’ It was either a career in a hip agency or a drab credit control position? The answer was simple. If the chips had fallen the other way. I might be a miserable credit control officer devising ways to blow my brains out every day of the week, probably in a marriage with some poor girl having to put up with my mood swings and a Subaru Forester parked outside. Yes, a Subaru Forester, it seems to me like the kind of car a credit control officer who wears clean undies drives but the gods had other plans.

Like many jobs, the job in the hip advertising agency with a pool table was not as advertised, they promised gold and served brass. They promised a dream voyage only for the ship to end up being The Titanic. But maybe my cloth is just inferior—it is not cut from the perseverance fabric. I quit after the second year. Quit is a brash word. It speaks to my indolence and irresponsibility, and I’m a bachelor after all—I need to sell myself. I resigned, graciously. I sat on my desk and typed out my resignation letter… edited is the word. It was a document I pulled off the web after punching in, “How to resign” into Google.

In retrospect, if I was to go back and do it all over again, I would do it differently. Of course there were lessons from these experiences, but they sometime feel stale and unnecessary. Like trying to jump over a lake when there is a bridge.

If I was to do it all over again I wouldn’t feel sorry for myself. Early twenties, living under my parent’s roof with a bunch of time on my hands and no bills to speak of. I would have a sense of carpe diem. I wouldn’t worry about the future too much or about what my peers are doing. I would search for a calling, something I’m passionate about, and then I would spend every waking minute polishing it until it gleamed like a shooting star, until the jobs came to find me. If they didn’t, I would package it and let the market decide. After all, there are no gatekeepers in our generation. I would also wash my boxers, thoroughly, meticulously, and finally read up on what Management Science is really about.

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Read my second book, The Sponsor, here. I drop at-least a chapter everyday. Follow me on instagram for updates and a peek at the behind the scenes. 

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