If I thought the previous week was bad, last week was worse. My “lottery” cash is far spent and I don’t have a coin to my name. I contemplated asking Jane for some, little money really because I’m not extravagant.
In fact, I’m the most frugal person I know. All I need is a little money to call a few contacts I left my resume with to see if there’s any progress with my job search. So why didn’t I ask Jane?
Two reasons: She’s said a couple of times that she’s hard up on cash since she just paid the maid’s dues and her son’s school fees.
Secondly, I reasoned that it’s pretty obvious I’m in dire need of cash given my jobless status. I don’t need to ask, right? Wrong! Several times, I’ve hinted about wanting to buy some decent clothes so prospective employers take me seriously and other times, clearly expressed how exhausting it is to walk all day, hoping Jane would sympathise and offer a few francs.
I can pay back after I get a job. I guess she reasons the free housing and meals are more than I deserve. And she’s right. Feeding an extra mouth in this expensive city is no piece of cake, literally.
So what’s my strategy now that I’m penniless? Being innovative and not giving up. I have learnt to ask for “lifts” or “lifte” as some people call them.
Spencer let me in on this trick too. Early in the morning, some car owners are generous and will stop. But others will drive right past you even when they are the only occupants in a big, big car.
(Note to self: When I finally make it in life and buy my own car, I will make it a point not to leave people on the road.)
I got what sounded like good news mid week. A small Internet café was looking for a cashier.
“I don’t have experience in this field but I can learn about it quickly,” I pleaded with the manager. “But you can’t speak or read Kinyarwanda, Swahili or any other language, how will you communicate with the customers? he asked.
His words sunk my hopes. Nevertheless, he told me to write an application letter and leave my C.V behind. I wrote it right there and handed it to him. What followed left me feeling both small and hopeless. “Is this an application letter? If you have friends, go and ask them for proper guidelines,” he chided.
To be honest, I’d written what I thought was an excellent application letter and I had double-checked to ensure there were no grammatical or factual errors.
And here was this man telling me it wasn’t good enough! Angry, I answered back. “As far as I know, that’s as good an application as any. If something is missing, tell me what it is instead of belittling me.”
By this time, I was almost certain I wouldn’t get the job anyway so it didn’t matter. Of course he wasn’t helpful and I reasoned the language problem was the real reason he denied me the job.
Gathering what was left of my pride, I walked on to a nearby hospital. I’ve always heard that health centres are understaffed and hospital staff overworked. Well I was here to lighten their load.
Of course I didn’t expect to be ushered into the theatre or labour ward. An administrative or clerical role would do. For the second time that day, I met a dead end.
“No there’re no vacancies at the moment and even if there were any, you’d have to be a doctor,” one of the staff told me.
Jane was right. It is hard to find a job in this city. And when you don’t speak the native language or boast prestigious qualifications from an even more prestigious institution, it becomes even harder.
To be continued