The Grind

Work Gloves.jpg
Courtesy: The Glove Place

Slightly more than a year into my first job, I walked into the office one morning in mid-June and decided the month would not end with me working there.

I quit that afternoon, just after lunch. I went back to the office after my RnB lunch (that’s Rice-n-Beans), picked up my flash disk, phone charger, headphones and leather folder and left. I haven’t gone back to the office since. Didn’t even pick my pay for that month.

It was 2015 and I must have thought life would be a bed of roses.

You see, I had been employed right after school in that advertising entity – a small firm that had been in existence for almost 3 years. It was owned by this guy (let’s call him Kibe). Big and burly, with a nice smile and an attitude problem. I think he had a bi-monthly man-strual cycle. He always behaved funny. Like he may have been a diva in his previous life. Great on certain days, but a certified male bitch on most others. He is the one who  interviewed me on a cold Wednesday afternoon. I was hungry. Hadn’t had anything to eat since morning. I had been biding my time. Hanging out in some brightly lit mall, reading a magazine with Juliana Kanyomozi on the cover. I think it may have been True Love or The Insyder. It was May of 2014.

I was yet to graduate. Had just completed my studies the previous month. And was still living at my mother’s. I had, throughout late April and early May, applied for a number of jobs. 31 in all. I had been called to eight interviews. Six of them in insurance sales (Thank God, I never heard back from any of them). The seventh for a bookkeeping job in some soap manufacturing entity in Kayole or somewhere like that. I did not go for the soap making–bookkeeping interview. Sounded fishy, or rather soapy. Kibe’s interview would be the eighth, and last I ever did.

After going through the “tell us about yourself ” poke as many times in as short a time as I had, you get used to meeting bloated strangers. Sitting on the opposite end of a blank table. Peering into your soul and thinking you ain’t shit. Suffice to say, Kibe had found me a lot more confident than the people he had interviewed before. The light green shirt I wore that day had not even been ironed. I had on a grey sweater and no tie. I was just there to hear the phrase “We’ll get back to you.” I didn’t need to look presentable. It was just a formality to me. But God has plans for His children. And am one of them. Fifteen minutes into the interview, Kibe had offered me the job, even gave me 1500 for fare to start the following Monday.

I had entered the workplace with gusto. Learning that many rich business owners prefer to see people early in the morning. And often want you to flatter and pamper them before you get to your point. I enjoyed the job. Gave me a lot of exposure. Offered me a chance to kiss big people’s asses. And to mine a few shillings in the process. And to wear sweaters on cold mornings. God, I love sweaters.

Often, I’d work on projects and orders with Kim, our resident graphics designer. A crazy fellow who could make any idea come to life. Had gifted hands, and wrote very beautiful English. Small guy who spoke little and wore number three shoes. Great guy. Really swell guy. All of four feet tall. Taught me how to work while buzzed. We made billboards for a few big fish in town. Robbed others blind in the process. Of course, these were side hustles. The main office was also good to us. He taught me the value of negotiating, and the art of bargaining. And I taught him how to wear Chris Adams colognes. He showed me how to come up with crazy ideas, and I taught him how to eat omena without squinting.

He taught me how to spend less than 70 bob on lunch and I taught him how to hit on girls without stammering. Especially the shiny-eyed, sub-twenty year olds who studied at a college in our office building. He taught me how to design everything, and I taught him how NOT to drink Guarana. Introduced him to Pilsner, and Old Monk and Top Secret. I also dragged his tiny behind to the gym. He lifted 2 kg dumb-bells and flirted with the old mamas there. I worked out and stayed fit, and fine. We were a pair of crazies. He had a family and lived on the east side of town. I was single and I lived on the west side. Of course the east side had girls (and people) of my socioeconomic league. Naturally we drank there. Plus it had better joints. Still does really. I envied him. And he envied me back. It was a nice bromance. He is now in the U.S, hustling somewhere in Maryland. I miss him a lot, especially on Fridays.

Then there was Miss N. A beautiful girl with the prettiest of smiles and restless eyes, who loved wearing heavenly dresses. She had skin the color of well-brewed white tea. And an ass that I still swear can’t possibly be Kikuyu. She was the office manager and often handled my cheques (and feelings). Girl was so pretty I often reported early just to watch her type away at the keyboard. Helped her from time to time, whenever boss-man was out of town. I earned great points for those sessions. She had a boyfriend who lived hundreds of kilometers away. We flirted a lot (with her, not with the boyfriend). She touched my arms. Loved my biceps. And cologne. I touched her palms and hair. Loved her smile. Nothing too suggestive. She would wink at me sometimes when I walked into the office. Made my mornings a lot warmer. And my nights considerably colder.

She often rolled my name on her tongue in a manner that still makes me feel sparks. Like my name was a hot slice of fish fillet in her mouth. She was nice to me. I was hooked to the sight of her. The frequency of her hugs grew with each new month. And the content of our conversations got racier. Our stares lingered more and more. We often found excuses to be in the same place… God I loved that office! Sadly, I never got to go past the office with her. Probably for the best. Or so, I keep telling myself. She is now married to the boyfriend (lucky bastard) and they have two children. Those kids could have easily been mine.

Life was good at the office. I had amazing people as colleagues. And the boss bitched less and less. I earned slightly better and better as the months fed into each other. I was happy, and getting comfortable. Then in a fit, boss-man decided to downsize. Got greedy, actually. He let go of Miss N. I wept. She hugged me with unforgettable passion. Her friends came by to pick up her things a week later. The office got dull. My mornings got boring. I no longer looked forward to reporting early for work. No new office manager was hired. Instead, Kim was assigned some of the responsibilities of Miss N.

He demanded a raise. The boss refused.

He quit a month thereafter. The office got even worse. He set up his own shop a few buildings away. I spent most of my time in his new office.  We drank more and more with him. I sent some work from the office his way. He gave me nice kickbacks. Which we drank away in the foolery of youth.

Eventually I got so miserable at the office that I had to leave. The day before I left, we almost exchanged blows with the boss. He went on and on about my demeanor – in front of the entire office; it was at the weekly meetings. By then I was reporting to work in jeans and t-shirts and on certain Fridays even in shorts. He didn’t appreciate it.

I didn’t care.

I self-sabotaged.

I was young and hot-headed.



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