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Eketi @eketiette
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Today, I had a job interview by 9:00 a.m. at a prestigious engineering firm. By the looks of the sun streaming through my bedroom curtains, it was afternoon already! Why had that stupid alarm not woken me up?
In panic, I flew off the bed and ran to check my phone which lay on my reading table.

7:28 a.m., it read on the screen.
I heaved a sigh of relief; a race to the bathroom and thirty minutes later, I was ready. I whispered a prayer for success and favour and dashed out.
One heavy downpour and inevitable traffic jam later, I walked into the office at 9:17 a.m., late.

Opulent. That's the only way I can describe the office's interior. Even the air smelled rich! The thick, luxurious carpet beckoned to my feet, asking them to strip and wiggle.
I was directed to a roomful of applicants. Make that two roomfuls of applicants packed in one room.


Some of them looked out of place, like they were auditioning for the CEO position and not scrabbling for mid level jobs like the rest of us.
I looked at my outfit and sighed. Unlike the pencil skirt drones around me, I wore a gown and the pleated bottom flared out. I have nonexistent hips and take no pleasure showing off that deficiency in skirts.

My nervousness increased with the scornful sidelong glances I got.
They must've been thinking, 'who is this one? What's she wearing?

Concealing my fear, I went up to the very officious-looking receptionist. I displayed all the visible top half of my dentition, and politely asked her where I could get a chair, since I didn’t fancy standing.
Nice lady, she sent me to an office next door. I returned with my trophy, sat down and placed my bag on my laps. I slid off my shoes and finally, sank my feet in that sumptuous carpet.


“Babe, where did you find a chair?” asked a young lady who stood beside me.
“I asked the receptionist,” I replied.

“That one?” she asked, pointing with her nose and pouted lip. “She’s been doing strong face since we came o! I don’t know that she can talk sef.”

I shrugged, and she went off to try her luck.
One hour later.

Some had made friends, some were still solo; others had gone in and then left.

I and a guy named Maurice, who had a fantastic sense of humour, were surrounded by a circle of applicants. We told jokes and funny stories. Even the receptionist joined in.
We poked fun at each other.

One of the applicants had memorized the aims and objectives of the organisation and intended to recite it to the panel.

Some had recommendation letters and complimentary cards from prominent people. They laughed when Maurice and I mentioned that...
...we hoped to get the job on merit. Merit? In Nigeria? They laughed some more. Time passed and the number of applicants dwindled further.

“Miss Enoidara Ufott,” the MD’s secretary suddenly called out.

She was the majordomo who ushered in every person to the interview panel.
“Present auntie!” I yelled.

Everyone cackled; Maurice gave me a thumbs up sign.

I was led to a room even more lavish than the reception. Three men and two women were seated in front of a long table at the far end of the room, shuffling papers and conversing.
I stood beside the chair set across the table and said hello. Their mumbled replies matched their bland faces. Be calm, Enoima, I nervously whispered to myself.

“Please sit,” said the man in the middle. He appeared to be running the show.
“Thank you sir,” I replied and deposited my behind on the soft, but cold-as-a-cadaver leather chair.

“Tell us about yourself,” said the Man-In-Charge.

I cleared my throat and rambled off three sentences that began with my full name and ended with my love of nature.
"You studied mass communications. What makes you think you’re suitable for the role of a confidential secretary?”

This came from the lady at the far right. Thick-lensed glasses, tightly pulled back hair, a square jaw and a no-nonsense look.

“I may not be qualified on...
...paper," I replied. "but I worked for four years as a confidential secretary to the CEO of Megadon Enterprises. I've acquired the requisite skills needed and I believe I can do well here. Also, I badly need a job, ma'am.”

“Are you willing to travel on short notice?” she asked.
I began to answer, but was suddenly cut off by a fit of coughing; the cough had plagued me for a fortnight or so.

This was the period of Ebola. I watched, unsurprised, as the members of the panel cautiously shrank back. I raised my hand in a quasi-apology until the fit was over.
One of them pushed a glass of water across the table, which I took and gulped in gratitude.

“Thank you, sir.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Are you sure you don’t have Ebola?” the other lady asked. A slight smile flitted across her lips.

“No, ma’am. I passed the free test,” I replied.
“Free test for Ebola? Where?” the Man-In-Charge asked.

“At the Transcorp Hilton, sir,” I replied.

“At the entrance, the doorman points one device at your head to check for Ebola. Since it didn’t go off when it was pointed at me, I’m assuming I don’t have the virus.”
There was an ensuing moment of silence.

Then the panel burst out in raucous laughter. From that point on, the interview sailed smoothly.

As I got up to leave, the Man-in-Charge put out his hand for a handshake.

I hesitated.
"You don’t want to shake my hand?” he asked, his face a potpourri of surprise, consternation and mild irritation.

“It's not like that, sir," I said, tongue-in-cheek. "I just want to know if you’ve been to the Hilton recently."
Another round of loud amusement accompanied my comment. We shook hands.

“We’ll get back to you,” he said, with a grin as I turned to leave.

“Young lady, have you considered a career in stand-up comedy?” asked the only man who hadn’t spoken since the beginning of the interview.
“Well, sir, if you fail to get back to me, I definitely will,” I replied, and shut the door behind me.

And thus ended another job interview.

I did not get the job.
That last man who questioned me?

I found out his name was Nathan Suswam. He asked me to be the compere at his daughter's birthday party.

Then his wife asked me to be the MC at her friend's retirement bash.
Then her friend introduced me to another friend.

History, is the rest.
The End.

Thank you for taking the time to read this short fictional story by Eketi Edima Ette.

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