The sound of that mosquitoes make in the morning tend to change in a funny way. This is what you realize as the alarm on your phone yells for the ninth time. Some of them seem to be letting huge wails of vampire-happiness while others seem to be belching grotesquely from your yummy alcohol laced blood. You rub your eyes vigorously to look at the phone screen. You have to be careful lest the spider webbed screen cuts your thumb as you slide it to unlock. It is all a sorry state of affairs because everything seems to be conspiring against you. You have barely slept for the four-hour-period recommended by your science books. But you see, the thing about working online is that you must also sleep online. For a moment you wonder where the authors of these books lived. Did they ever look for a job? Did they ever stay at an apartment where Njoroge is ever in time to ask for rent from the emaciated fresh graduate? Did they ever tarmac? When the word “tarmac” was used by people who are now older and hopeless, you thought they were overusing this word. You thought that it was too much. The only thing you could imagine was a shoeless creosoted foot walking tagging along the miraged hot tarmac. But that was absurd, right? Your mind shifts to the events of yester night. After going through the writing account, which has had an elongated period of low season malnutrition, and came across some computer programming, astronomy, and aeronautical science assignments, you decided to do other things. Look for scholarships. Working online is becoming more and more unfriendly to your survival in the city in the sun.
You applied for dozens of scholarships. To be precise, you pressed the “submit” button twenty three times. This is less than a quarter of what you did the other day. The target is to apply more than a hundred full scholarships and 20 jobs per day. You emphasize on the “full” because; why apply if I’ts not full? But the reason for not reaching the target was not that you slept early. No! No one does that. In fact you were working online. The type that you were doing was a different one. You have decided to join the bandwagon of Kenyans who contribute to the welfare of Mr. Pevans. You see, you do not know why you do it, but every time you think of the paybill number, you imagine an Indian family travelling to the Maldives with the support of the likes of you! You imagine him sitting in his office having a chat with his close associates discussing how they will organize the greatest concert of all time.
“vee viill involve more then thiirty ertists! ” this is how he sounds in your morning-forsaken head amidst heavy breathing.
So, you spent the night waiting to see whether you will get a return from Mr Pevans or he will take it home as usual. But then all goes well except for one game. And Mr Pevans does it again. He wins. Btw, those who do not know about whom you’re talking have probably never won any sportpesa bet. As usual, you lost. The nature of working online. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose, accept and move on.
The broken glass window lets in a breeze that would have been otherwise pleasant in the afternoon, jostles you out of the fantasies, and you remember you have interviews to attend. The question is whether you will take a shower or not. But we wouldn’t write your decision here, would we? The interviewer could be reading this. And in utter craziness could find explanations to the sudden loss of function in the air freshener at the office as soon as you got into the room. Apparently this would be bad as she said, “we will call you.” You would like to stop working online, wouldn’t you?
“Talk to meee!” The ubiquitous voice of Maina Kingangi pierces your ears as soon as you take your seat close to the window. There is something about this show that is wrong. You think so. Traffic jams, misplaced sexuality, cat fights, broken families, are just some of the things that come to mind as that pithy conversation penetrates the speakers. But you see, we have to let a man do what they do best. You are not exactly in the best position to judge someone who is already successful in his field of trade. Plus, the alacrity with which the XX generation enjoy this show makes you lean back and let it be. You resign and lie on the window of the bus as you while away the traffic. It will soon be over. The Interview.
“We neend an Amelican accent for this position!” says the lady conducting the interview. You liked her at first. Adorned in the regalia of a royal, she looks like those women who have literally fought their way to the top. You are not sure whether to be surprised at what she says or how she says it. You give a bland smile and lean back on your seat. You think she is cracking those unfunny jokes that corporate guys tend to deliver and people give fake sycophantic laughs. You are surprised at the seriousness of the situation when you are given a piece of paper to read out loud! You remember working online is returning closer to you. There are three things competing at this moment: your deeply rooted south Nyanza accent, your effort to fake an American accent, and your struggle to believe that this is not a hoax. The breeding of this trio bears an offspring coined into a few syllables that you don’t hear clearly;
“Go home…. But we have your CV….call you…another position…” you are out of the door even before you can synthesize the message. You only know you need to go back to your office working online
As if the day could not get any worse, the next interview is, as you could have guessed. A pleasant disaster. The good thing about attending many interviews is that you learn what is required. The ‘American accent’ has to be included in the CV. In fact, it has to be spoken. You practice in the elevator. The office is cozy. The person conducting the interview is a woman. No. a white woman. Yes they can be soft. They are our mothers. Our sisters. Daughters. Wives. Girlfriends. But you’ve never come across any figure that exudes authority more than they do. Women. You blabber your cheap, unkempt American English! She looks at you like a toilet not adequately flashed. Through her huge glasses, you see a reflection of yourself. A whimsical imp who has not the tinniest clue about the world of tarmacking. But then, in an effort to redeem yourself from the eternal damnation of working online, you humble your eyes and diffidently return to your heavy Luo accent. It sounds wrong now. It almost Ugandan! She leans forward. Not saying anything. This dangerous beast. Still saying nothing. She looks at you like she has seen you for what you are now; A budding African dictator who’s first agenda will be to send all white people packing when you finally grow up. Working online is calling you! Human beings love to be reassured. To feel important. You try this as your last tactic.
Your eyes say, “Ma’am I have gone through your kind of education, I have graduated with a degree. I know when to say that Muammar Gadhafi was good because he built and developed his nation and had great plans for Africa. I also know when to say he was a bad man because the West said so. I cannot be a dictator. Send you away. I am a writer. I am struggling to run away from working online”
But your fate has been sealed. You have to leave or security will stop being idle. Interview Gone Bad. The blogs will say. You live to fight another day. You head back to working online. Tarmacking is war. These interviews are battles. A graduate has to know the difference.