She is the smart reader-writer with the most radiant smile.
I’m talking about the amiable soul of Mable Amuron. A few days back she gave me a prompt for writing something for her blog. If I knew then what I know now… was the prompt. And since I have been on a constant initiative of trying to resurrect my blogging culture much like one would keep trying to resurrect a rotting car in the compound, I decided to take it on. I’ll try to conclude with the prompt sentence at the end of the writing like one of those classwork English composition classics.
Any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental.
This is a story about a lady in purple. Here goes:
Not many months ago, I was nearly as broke as I am now. The occasional gigs had become hard to come by and it dawned on me that I needed to whip out my documents and play my part in the tragic vocation of job hunting. I prepared myself properly, unearthed my multipurpose suit, bought shoe polish, and trimmed the bush on my face that might have as well required a gardener.
I edited my resume to increase my experience by filling up those gaps that I spent ‘in between jobs.’ Although honestly, there are some jobs that I did for a month that gave me three months’ equivalent of stress so I was just being fair.
I spent over a week being empathetic to my shoes, by applying online for positions. However by the time that week was done, the state of my pocket dictated that I hit the road and try and convince interviewers and bosses alike, that I am an obedient worker who is fluent in some local languages and things of that sort.
It took me a while to find places where there wasn’t an overpopulation of applications. I must have walked the entire city, being tossed left and right. Drinking air for lunch in some cases. Thank God for kikomandos. I started feeling like I would settle for one of those receptionist jobs as one of them told me that there was no interview because they had found someone.
I will never forget a certain guy who sat next to me at one of the interviews. He was dressed casually in jeans and a lime green t-shirt, unlike the rest of us. He was holding an envelope. I struck up a conversation with him. He told me that he had also come for the interview and that the envelope contained his application and C.V. Surely this man must be new to this, I thought. I proceeded to advise him that it was a useless effort since the application deadline had ended weeks ago.
“That’s what I also thought but they just told me to come and apply,” he responded to me with such a calm demeanor. They? Who is they? I wondered like Matthew McConaughey’s character in Interstellar.
He later received a call, proceeded to cut the line, and headed straight for the interviewer’s door where a smiling gentleman escorted him in. Long story short, out of all the twenty-something shortlisted officially dressed applicants, that lime green t-shirt guy is the one who got the job.
The job hunt continued. A few inches into the sole of my shoe, an idea hit me. Why was I walking yet people just stormed into offices and got jobs like they were doing the employer a favour? Connections? Is that it? I also knew people. Why was I struggling to this extent?
So I decided to stay home one day and list down all my uncles, aunties, close relatives, and family friends who were worth mentioning. I arranged them in a subjective order I made up, from the least wealthy to the wealthiest. And I mean wealth in terms of social capital and also, you know, wealth in terms of wealth. Don’t blame me.
At the end of the multiple phone calls, voice mails, and people advising me that they have gone through my ordeal before, as if that would somehow make me feel more content about being jobless – just give me a job first and you can advise me as we drink my first salary in the bar – I saw a light flicker at the end of the tunnel.
One of my uncles told me that there was a PR/ad agency which his company contracts in town and they were looking for someone to help them with communications. He said that he would put in a word for me and that I didn’t need any papers; just a fair amount of confidence and a good command of the queen’s mother tongue. I told him immediately that my confidence levels were off the charts and that my command of English was so superb that one would think me the queen and the queen, a fraud.
“Tell it to the interviewers on Monday. Let me talk to their HR. Don’t worry, things won’t fail,” he said. I cannot explain how relieved I felt. It’s like I had already got the job. That day was a Friday and I felt like sleeping through the weekend so that Monday would come faster. I had finally become that lime green t-shirt guy from earlier on, about to step into the interviewers’ office with the boldness of a good thief. It was finally happening.
9:00 am Monday morning found me waiting in the well-polished interior of the PR agency office lobby. Its subtle elegance spoke to the refinedness of the designer. Art hanging on the walls, bold colours on the walls, illuminated gypsum board ceiling, indoor plants, and such. It might have been a fancy nightclub lobby had it not been for the right amount of corporate, office touch in the right areas.
I waited humbly in the lobby, holding my shoulder bag tightly on my lap, as if to keep it from contaminating the luxury of the office, charging my confidence. All the while, spiffily dressed corporate people that smelled of opulence walked past, to different parts of the office building. I started picturing myself looking like them one day. They included a particular dazzling lady, dressed in a purple knee-length dress, whose image remained stained in my memory.
My eyes followed her as she made her asymptotic journey towards me, drinking up all the information her body had to offer. I stared at her so hard it felt criminal, but I couldn’t stop. Her shapely body looked like the perfect template for ‘ beautiful body clip art’ on some document software; slim thick, curvy but not vulgar.
I took in the waft of fragrance she left behind. She smelt like the orchards of heaven after a rainy morning. I don’t remember how her hair looked because I’m not always immediately attentive for what is on top of the head.
However, the front of her head was even of great concern to me. The beauty that bathed the melanin of her face showed that God was anything but economical when awarding her with looks. And as she walked, ignoring my unmoving gaze boring through her body, I also visually consumed the dazzle of the magnificent bulbs that sat in her eye sockets. I continued to watch her until she reached the opposite end of the lobby where she opened the door to the next room.
When she turned to close the door behind her, she looked back at me as if wondering whether I was still staring or not. Our eyes locked, she shook her head and grinned a kind of playful smile that seemed to say, Are you seriously still staring? She shut the door and ended the episode.
Would I see her again, I didn’t even know. And that’s how life is, sometimes all you get is a glimpse of someone that you feel could have been the one and that’s it. However, I had to keep my head in the game, I was looking for work, not warmth. The persistent memory of her decent swaying backside would have to suffice.
The way her elegant dress bagged her shapely bottom so presentably, one would be forgiven to suppose that the pair underneath did not pass any kind of ordure.
It was about half an hour before the gentleman I had spoken to on the phone earlier in the morning appeared in front of me. He properly introduced himself as the person who was in charge of the interviews and that he was a great friend of my uncle. Let’s call my uncle Mr. John. “We wouldn’t be where we are without Mr. John,” he said. He then told me that they had a company brunch in celebration of some corporate benchmark that I do not remember. He invited me over because I was my uncle’s nephew.
I have to admit, I had not been to any such sort of interview before then. He escorted me towards the mysterious door at the end of the lobby. I got into what I later learned was the office cafeteria. At the time, I thought that we had left the office entirely and somehow ended up in a high-end restaurant.
There was a savory buffet that welcomed you, repurposed cushioned crates as seats, and artistic tables under umbrella tents. There was a coffee place, behind the counter and also what seemed like a bar. At the extreme end was a grassy compound with seats as well. I later learnt that they shared the space with an actual restaurant/pub.
The gentleman ushered me away from the scrumptious area towards the sitting area. My stomach then felt it necessary to remind me about the supper and breakfast I hadn’t had, with a growl. The gentleman pointed me to a seat and told me that someone will be over with my food momentarily. I obliged, went over, and sat my baffled frame onto the cushioned chair. Next to my seat was another seat that seemed to have been previously occupied. In front of our shared table was a plate of quarterly eaten food.
As I sat wondering how someone could abandon a chicken drumstick on a plate, the lady in purple from earlier came to my table. I was so transfixed on the plate’s meats that I didn’t notice her walk towards me.
“Hey, hello” she said as she came over and sat next to me.
“Hi, how are you?” I said. We exchanged pleasantries. She was not any less stunning in person. She passed a handkerchief over her forehead that had gathered a few beads of sweat.
“I was wondering who left the uneaten meal here,” said I.
“Oh, that. Yeah, I think I’m full. And I don’t want to get distracted,” she said.
Then we both spoke at the same time, “Do you work here?” She chuckled the sweetest chuckle.
“No, I..” we chorused again. And it felt like a good kind of awkward. I started to see how similar she was to me in ways. Even her advanced age that I’d assumed started dropping towards mine. Maybe I had a chance. But I still couldn’t grasp how she looked so fitting to this kind of corporate environment.
“You go first,” she said.
“No it’s fine, I think I was the one who interrupted you,” I said.
“Okay,” she started, “I am here to do an interview for a position. The person I talked to directed me to come straight here, though…I didn’t know that there would be eating”
“I’m guessing you had breakfast then”
“Yeah, you could say that.”
“That explains the lack of appetite.” I pointed to the plate. She laughed, more courteously than an actual reflex, otherwise, I must have been some kind of comedy genius.
Then she said, “No, the gravy just wasn’t treating me so good.”
“Oh, I see,” I said as a waiter-type person brought over a plate with similar food to my side.
“Enjoy,” they said. The appetizing meal filled with rice and meats bathed in gravy made me briefly forget what I was here for. I reflexively grabbed an unidentifiable animal’s roasted rib and brought it into my face.
“There’s nothing I don’t eat,” I told her, taking a bite. She laughed what I supposed was genuine laughter. I couldn’t tell, I had become busy.
While I ate, we discussed our employment histories among other things as we joked about the plight of job searching. It didn’t even matter to us that we were interviewing for the same spot. Despite the absorption in the meal I was eating, I was still able to appreciate her natural beauty and smile. I was definitely leaving with her number.
Not much later, I finished eating.
“But how did you come to know of this vacancy. Was it advertised,” I asked at a point, “or connections?”
“Well, not exactly connections. An in-law told me to apply,” she said smilingly again.
“Does he work here or something?” I asked, wanting to know gauge how good her odds were against mine.
“Yeah, kind of, but he’s not always in office. I also rarely see him,” she said, to my contentment. Clearly, he wasn’t a man I needed to worry about.
“What’s his position here though?” I inquired for good measure. I mean, I had nothing to worry about. My connection was someone who literally employed this entire company once in a wh—
“He is the CEO,” she uttered effortlessly, “-ish. CEO-ish. You know like how company founders sometimes end up as CEOs. That’s him.”
I was dumbfounded for a second. This girl was clearly holding more cards than she revealed. Her in-law was the CEO of the company where she was trying to get a job. Of course, it can get better than that but this was good, for her I mean. In some cultures of traditional Africa, she had to work for her in-laws as a must. I placed my bet on this establishment being evolved enough into the modern, unbiased way of job recruitment. Then again, I was also hoping for the contrary to work for me.
Before I could get into details of weighing my chances, in a different version of my daddy is better than your daddy, the waiter came and took away both our plates. The gentleman from earlier then summoned us to wait in another lobby once again. I walked in calculative thought. Was this lady once again another version of the casual guy who took my job? She certainly had the swagger. My stomach turned. But I believed my chances were as fair as hers. I mean, these people expected me. And the gentleman spoke about my uncle as though he were the redeemer. Let’s not forget, my uncle gives these people money.
“This is your interviewer,” the gentleman pointed to another lady dressed in a corporate shirt and skirt. She stood next to a door. She might have been in her late thirties. She smiled as she greeted us. She then told my counterpart interviewee to wait on a bench somewhere as she handled me first.
My stomach turned once again and I felt small explosions happen in my lower abdomen. This time it didn’t feel like a nervous reaction. Before the interviewer left, he whispered something into her ear. I only caught the last bits, “…Mr. John’s son”
My confidence was restored. The integrity of my gut on the other hand was falling apart, I ignored it. The lady turned and entered the office whose door she stood next to, inviting me in. As soon as I took the first step, a chill ran through my entire body that contrarily brought sweat beads to my forehead. Something was wrong inside of me, and I’m not talking about my soul.
“Are you nervous?” My latest acquaintance on the bench behind me asked. I couldn’t find the right answer to that question because either way, I was feeling each and every nerve of my rectum lobbying my sphincter muscles to relax and let things happen.
My reflex was to look around for any insignia that symbolized ‘gents’. I saw one of “toilet’ a few steps down the hall. I took another look at the ajar interviewer’s door to my future of dirtying nightclub tables with liquor, to the glee of plastic, alcohol-addicted friends.
Why couldn’t my tummy give me an hour or so, so that I can first negotiate its future food? It replied me with a battering ram hammering at the passage door in the heart of my buttocks that served both as an exit and emergency exit. There was nothing to do. The bowels were about to move with or without my permission.
I don’t remember running to the toilet or even how I ended up seated on the toilet seat. There was only a faint memory of shoving away a woman who was trying to tell me something on the lines of, ‘Sir, you can’t use these..’
I wondered what she was on about. I know this might have been a staff-only toilet but this was a health emergency. I kept thinking about what her issue might have been as I read the stickers on the door in front of me talking about female reproductive health and how to avoid UTIs.
Interestingly, there was nothing passing at the back end. I just sat there frustrated, nuclear fission building up pressure inside. It felt like a large solid had dammed the exit, like a beaver would dam a river.
Until suddenly, Hiroshima! The first expulsion rocked the water in the toilet basin so that it splashed on my exposed side. Then began the music! It was a fusion of deep reggae bass guitar grumbling in my stomach and the hip-hop trap drums at the explosion end as I egested in all three states of matter. And the blinding odour that emanated was not from a living being.
The inhumane sounds were definitely not music for any of the unsuspecting corporate passersby whose office block I was quickly making inhabitable. Their toilet was not built for this, it wasn’t big enough. That notwithstanding, there was no toilet big enough for the global warming I was contributing at that moment.
It was non-stop effluence, so much so that I wondered if there would be any of me left.
Dear God, what did they put in that gravy? Was everyone eating it? I cried towards the almighty in my heart. I obviously didn’t think that he would come to my rescue, not unless he dulled his senses to the dead air corrupted by none other than his innocent child. I was one hundred percent convinced that the gravy I ate was just repurposed brake fluid with salt and seasoning.
As time passed, I began to worry about the interview. My head couldn’t even keep focused on my objective. Instead of trying to lose my jobless status in the interviewers’ office, I was busy losing weight in the lavatory.
I wondered if the interviewer was hearing what I was going through. What would they think of me, those who worked here? Including the lady in purple. Would one really admit an employee who was going to keep transforming office toilets into post-apocalyptic sewage dystopias that are beyond rehabilitation?
After a lot of fake stops and abrupt starts, the flow finally stopped. I checked the time on my phone, I had been in the toilet for thirty minutes! I quickly turned to get toilet paper but my heart dropped when there was none! And then panic gripped me.
There were no two ways about it, I had to use toilet paper. The nature of the exercise I had been through demanded it, and a lot of it. One wouldn’t just wipe themselves down, after falling in a pile of mud, with receipt papers from his wallet, you needed multiple paper towels, or a towel, and/or a shower.
I sat there, anxiety peaking. Memories went through my mind of toilets from my high school that had finger-painted artwork on the inside of their walls, all painted using the same medium. Was this the kind of debacle they had found themselves in?
As I scrolled through my phone for the earlier gentleman’s number to SOS, the door opened and someone walked into the washroom. High heels. Was this a co-ed toilet? The heels slowly approached my door and then stopped. I held my breath. Is this where I’m thrown out?
Then a toilet paper roll rolled in from under the door. “Sorry Bambi, thank me later.” I recognized the purple dress lady’s voice. The high heels then walked out of the washroom.
Jesus Christ! Is not what I exclaimed, but rather what she had just been to me at that moment. I have been rescued multiple times but this was one of those saves that make you turn into a disciple of the saver, or dare I say, savior.
After doing the needful, I walked out of the washroom, into the corridor, feeling like a torture victim. I only hoped that I still looked presentable. I looked around but couldn’t see the purple lady.
Perhaps she had moved to another part of the building. Despite the fragile mood I was in, I felt like I had to thank her, and also maybe, get her number as well. I can’t believe my mind was still bent on getting the number. Did it already brainwash the trauma of the near-death experience I’d just survived?
Hell hath no fury like a king out to get his future queen’s number.
I rushed to open the interviewers’ door, not thinking to knock, but it was locked. And there was no sign of life walking along the corridors. Out of the frying pan?
Suddenly, the gentleman appeared out of a corner and approached me, looking at me as though he didn’t expect me to be there.
“You’re still here?” He inquired of me.
“Sorry I had to use the boys’ room, but I’m ready for the interview now.”
“The interview?” He asked.
“Yes, but the door is locked I think,” I said.
“Oh, I thought you heard. The interview is over.”
I felt a chill run over me. “But, I haven’t yet, I thought I was, but she didn’t interview me.”
The gentleman wore a warm smile and then replied, “We only had one slot, unfortunately, and the lady who was here got the job. We tried to look for your name among viable candidates but it would seem that you didn’t apply. We couldn’t see your C.V.”
“But I was told I didn’t need to apply, that I should just come with my C.V.”
His face now frowned. “Well, that was terrible advice. We don’t do that here. But since we have your email, we’ll be sure to inform you when the next opportunity turns up.”
The gentleman turned to leave. I added before he walked away, “Did you talk to Mr. John?”
He turned and responded, “Yes I actually did. I always make sure that he is up to speed.” He excused himself and left.
Flummoxed is not the best word to describe the flabbergast I was left in. I suddenly felt like the walls were moving around me. I quickly started to feel like a hostile presence in the building. But I had to make one last call. Uncle John.
He picked after a few moments that felt like months. I explained to him what happened to which he replied, “Oh yes, that girl of the CEO is the one who got the job, bambi. They already told me. It was really out of my hands.”
A confusing emotion of anger built up within me. “Is that why she was picked over me? Because she is the CEO’s in-law?”
I heard him fumble on the other side, “CEO? Mmm, no, yes, but not exactly. But you see the problem was with you. Why didn’t you apply in time? By the time I told you on Friday, there was still enough time.”
“You told me that I didn’t need to.”
“And you also followed? My son, you need to be more serious. Where have you ever seen a job being given to someone without them applying?”
I couldn’t respond. I was livid. I tapped the red button on my cracked smartphone screen. I didn’t even think about what he’d think of me. Where have you ever seen a job being given to someone without them applying? Did he really want an answer to that? I had many examples. Including the one I was supposed to be today had it not been for that purple-dressed thing.
If I knew then what I know now.
Moreover, for some reason, my mind was still regretting why I didn’t get her number. This was boss-level simping. I wanted to teleport out of the building because I had also started to hate it.
I didn’t even look back as I walked, unlike lot’s wife, at the place that I now cursed damnation upon. I also intended to clean my shoes of the dust from their dustless floors, as the disciples did when they left the cities that rejected them.
I had come hoping for the gods of nepotism to act in my favor; instead, I was served with what felt like nepoticide from my uncle. I wished I could beckon the scales of justice to tilt in my favor, but Lady Justice never seemed to show her face whenever lady nepotism was around.
The fitting suit that I had worn started to feel baggy as I shame-walked to the exit door.
And to make matters worse, my bowels were asking to move to the second half. I had to run back inside for relief. I later discovered, regrettably, that it was only the second quarter of the first leg.
It was once again a pleasure to be hosted on amuron.com. Happy birth month to the host. May Mable the Kingmaker live long enough to re-read all the world’s books a hundred times since she has already done so more than twice.
Much love y’all,
Mukama Kevin Rushokye
Kevin is a satirical writer, artist, and author of Following The Madman. You can find more of his writing here: thekevmanexpress.wordpress.com. To support, buy his book from the link below.