The harsh economic conditions may force me into seeking odd jobs again. The reason I use the word “again” is because I once had this terrible job way back in the mid 90s.
It was at a certain travel agency which belonged to a cousin of my Uncle’s brother-in-law. Among many duties that I had to carry out at the office was – watering the flowers!
Yes this is because my boss’ teenage daughter always claimed that the flowers were suffering from a serious bout of Kwashiorkor.
So, according to her, it was part of my key performance indicators to ensure that the plants were watered regularly.
When I use the word “regular”, I do not mean weekly or even daily. At least that is not what my boss’ teenage daughter thought. For her, she understood that the office flowers should swallow litres of water three times a day.
In reality, these flowers took in water at least seven times a day.
This is because this teenager always forgot that I had already fed her dear plants with the water. Being idle and disorderly, she would hang around the office reading magazines and making phone calls around the world.
In her bid to belittle me even further, she would wait until the office was crowded with clients. As I attended to some clients, this teenager would yell out my name in front of everybody and order me to add water into her pots of the Kwashiorkor stricken flowers.
Sometimes, when she was really in the mood, she would rebuke me for having fed the plants with unpurified water. Being the main man’s daughter, she could easily authorize me to water the plants with mineral water.
That meant that I had to dash out of the bureau in search for bottled water. There was this shop around the corner which used to offer us goods on credit.
This is the same shop which would provide me with several bottles for the office flowers. Back in the office, the boss’ wife would grumble and bicker about anything, as her husband would be inspecting the computers to ensure that there was no grain of dust.
When these bosses were in such a state, my knees would begin to wobble in fear.
So in order to take some breather, I would gently offer to bring my bosses some refreshments. Either, I had to run upstairs to prepare a really nice hot pot of coffee, or dash to our shop for cold sodas. I preferred the latter. Usually, they opted for the cold sodas.
According to their miserable driver, who used to spend his whole day glued in the car, these relatives of mine gulped big quantities of wine and spirits every night.
That is why their eyes reflected a cocktail of colours and indeed that is why they preferred cold drinks to Arabica coffee.
Anyways, I became a regular visitor to this canteen, where I would pick sodas, sandwiches and cakes. Sometimes, I would pick takeaways of chips, fish and pizzas. Wow, that aroma would really harass my nostrils.
Imagine carrying such delicious dishes, when you are expected not to taste a bit. In fact, after delivering such sweeties, I would walk to the streets where I would settle for three tea spoons of fried groundnuts.
The way it worked those days is that you paid for two spoons of G-nuts but received one extra spoon for free.
For me, I was quite happy with the status quo, until the moment of receiving my salary.
At month-end, I politely entered my boss’ office and asked him for my pay. Unfortunately I had never signed any kind of employment contract and that is why he came up with a really lousy offer.
After accepting his meagre salary, he proceeded to the next problem.
He claimed that the shop around the corner had sent him a bill for all the supplies of the month. He then told me that half of the supplies had actually ended up in my pocket!
That was really harsh!
I had never ever pocketed anything from the shop. My boss insisted and showed me my potion of the bill. He announced to me that I would settle my part as a salary advance over the next three months.
This implied that I was only going to get money enough for one week’s transportation in a mini bus. My boss then dipped his hand in his pocket and handed me a few notes. I called it a day.