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I once went to an interview. This was somewhere in 2017. I remember the interview because of two things: First, there was only one interviewer, and secondly, I wanted the job but didn’t know what it entailed (in short, I wanted the money but not the responsibilities). The position I was after was that of a business exec, one that was held by a person I had interviewed a few days before that. Read her story here

It is my pure belief that all of us create imaginations of what we want in a job. We build castles in the air, thinking wishfully of the possibilities once you have the job. First, you’ll have a fancy office. Then there will be subjects under you for you to command. There will be someone to serve you tea, someone who calls you Sir. There will be a place for you to hang your coat.

You will seat in high-end company meetings on a weekly basis. Then the money will start coming. Things will change with money, better house, better attires, better phones and what have you. I often do such virtual calculations when I’m excited about something.

On that day, I was not feeling excited. I had missed going for interviews so I was attending one just to have a feel of what goes on in there. Deep down I had a conviction that I couldn’t get the job. In addition, I didn’t want the job simply because it was all about marketing, something that requires you to beg and lick people’s asses before you close a sale.

On that day, I was not feeling excited. I had missed going for interviews so I was attending one just to have a feel of what goes on in there. Deep down I had a conviction that I couldn’t get the job. In addition, I didn’t want the job simply because it was all about marketing, something that requires you to beg and lick people’s asses before you close a sale.

The woman who interviewed me handed me this gadget and told me to sell it to her as a demonstration of my expertise in the field. My presentation was so bad that I wanted to tell her that was not me.

Meanwhile, Viviane was seating there quietly, listening to my bullshit and laughing silently. She was sitting there like a ripe banana, teasing me to eat it. She looked lovely with these round full cheeks that were bubbly, cheeks that held lips that smiled in a way that I felt swept away. I wanted to reach across the table and hold her hand, look her in the eyes and tell her, “Woman, just come with me. I have something to show you.” I’ll then take her to a place she’s never been and admire her dimples, kiss them passionately and softly. Then whisper into her ears something naughty, something that will make the hairs on her arms do a standing ovation. Our story would start there.

She was the distraction that I didn’t need in that interview. I had interviewed her a few days ago, and she’d let me know much about her life. It was still fresh and seeing her there kind of took my thoughts back to what she’d told me.  Her presence caused the attention deficit I was experiencing. Like when the lady asked me to describe how I’d sell the buzzer, I forgot to mention critical steps in the process, steps I was very much aware of, as I had already been to many marketing classes and gigs.

I was wearing my confidence cap, for some reason because I had close to four years of experience in the marketing industry. I had been involved in numerous marketing gigs, including one that I had to wear a suit when going to make sales. It was the worst gig I ever did. It did give me a bountiful experience. A break in the field. Before that, I had also sold insurance for two insurance firms.

From the different gigs, I learnt that marketing is a punishing job because at the end of the day what matters are the sales you closed, not how much effort you put in. it is worse if you’re paid on a commission basis because if you don’t make any sales it implies that you go home empty-handed. Therefore, I have never wanted to go back to that field. If I have to, then there must be a basic salary.

It is hard to imagine working for another man or woman. It is something I am looking forward to. I yearn for that day I’ll sit in an office. My contract with the government will come to an end soon. I won’t be holding guns anymore. I won’t be running after men or break into people’s homes or offices. I’ll not be a seating duck anymore. I won’t fall into pits head first anymore.

It is the kind of freedom I’m yearning for. Freedom that has been long overdue. Then, I’ll be willing to wear a suit like anybody else and walk into an office, seat behind the desk and pretend as if I am the most innocent man in the world. I’ll try to be normal, to forget that my past was a dark one, forget the misery I caused people, the dead that I have left in my trail, the people I have destroyed, those I incapacitated and those I caused pain.

I’ll try to fit in. I’ll walk with decency. I’ll work hard, beat deadlines, do presentations and be the best team player I can be. I’ll try to interact with people, and when someone steps on my toe, my face will suddenly change, but then I’ll bring myself to my senses that I am a good man, that I need not make any trouble.

Then one day, I will receive a dreadful call, one that I cannot ignore because I’ll live the rest of my life expecting such calls. I’ll pick up my coat and leave hastily without saying anything to any person. It will be my last day behind that desk. I’ll become another person, the person I am now.

I left the office early enough to attend my class. I was conducting a design thinking class for two weeks at the American Space at the Bazaar. Even if I didn’t get the chance, I still had something I loved to do, empowering young people.

The thing is that I never received any feedback. That to me was disrespectful. I was not impressed. Something urged me to write a story about the company. It was a small company in its baby steps, and I knew I had the power to tumble it down to its knees through my words. Nevertheless, I asked myself, “For what gain?”

So nilikanyaga kubwa kubwa and attended my own business.

For the last four years, I’ve been doing random and predetermined interviews, whether it is for my blog or for a daily. Working in the writing sector has been one of my favourite jobs because it helps me learn. I learn a lot about people, especially things that people do in darkness. I also love the moment when people hit the edge of vulnerability and begin opening up about things they’ve never told people. When people break they lose control, they say scary things- things that people kill others for, things that hurt, things that can burn.

The second reason why I love this job is because of the networks I make. I meet people with power to shape my life either through their money or their knowledge- the latter being my cup of tea because it can help me make more money. I get to imbibe so much knowledge. From it, I have learnt to be open-minded, to be patient with my words and actions, to work hard, to live more than just survive and to lead my life in secrecy. I have interviewed both powerful and less powerful people. I have interviewed powerful people who lost their power. I learnt more from these. They have seen life in different dimensions. They tell you to go slow. They encourage you to be a man of your word. They admonish you to be patient. They hint that it is the simple things in life that matter. They advise you to walk away when your guts tell you to. In their regrets, they tell you not to allow yourself to learn from mistakes. Some mistakes will end you, they say. There are mistakes you can’t come out of, they’ll go on.

It is not all roses, however. Sometimes people don’t want to open up. Others want to control you. Others will ask you questions instead of the other way round. Others will brag all through. There are those who will go out of topic and change the trajectory of the interview, at the end of the day you fail to get what you wanted.

There is a bunch of people who want you to send sample questions up front. They want a mwakenya of what you want to ask, so that when you interview them, and you snap a question out of nowhere, one not included in the list you sent them, their PR people start yapping “that wasn’t on the sheet you sent.” Oh Lawd! I hate such interviews where you have to stick to specific questions. It is a way of diminishing my prowess. If there is anything, when I walk in to interview someone, I don’t go with any particular questions. I always believe that through our natural conversation they will be able to say answers to questions I’d have asked.

In my head, I’ll only have like three to five key questions. The reason I have them is that they’re the reason I went to interview that person. Others are just fillers. Once I have answers to those questions, then I am good to go. We can ride down to your pool and bask, or drive to a golf course and kick some balls.

So if I am going to interview someone and they request me to send them the questions I’d love to ask them, I shy off from conducting that interview. I can’t take that heat. I feel like I am being strangled. The problem is not sending the list of questions. The problem comes when they strike off some of the questions off the list with lame excuses, “That is personal”, “I can’t answer that” and all that crap. So when you look at the questions they’re comfortable to answer you feel no need to interview them. There is no juice.

Finally, we have a crop that wants to see the story before it goes live. I find these people highly psychotic.  There is no problem with them seeing the story but the danger is that by the time of you writing the story they might have changed their minds about the things they’d said. So after spending hours and hours writing your story to perfection, they will tear it down to pieces, asking you to remove particular clauses, or asking you to put them in a way that presents them in a more decent way. These are highly insecure people, with low self-esteem, thinking that what others think of you highly matters. So they want people to see them in positive light always.

I have wasted my resources on such people often. It is how the job is. One day it is going alright, the following day it is full of shit.

The worst is preparing for an interview for weeks or months on end. Then when you arrive at the scheduled location, you are informed that they are unavailable due to unavoidable circumstances. You feel broken. You sweat in your new suit. You pity yourself.

Ps

I am still struggling to get back on my toes.

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Send us an email: info@mzangila.com or call 0716503589.

Mzangila Snr,

(Mr. Nice Guy)

Where shall we go, we who wander in this wastelands in search of better selves?

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About Mzangila

Mentor, media consultant, photographer, editor, poet, writer, and counselor.

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