When job hunting goes wrong

Saturday January 23 2021

A failed interview can generate frustration. PHOTO/CREATION/NMG.

By Phillip Matogo

The only Maths I did well in high school was counting down the minutes to the end of Maths class. 
One, two, three, four and a hi-five to my classmates when Maths class was over! 
Still, I went to university. That’s where I met my first love. 

It happened during the 2001 presidential elections. We met at a polling station, as we were both zigzagging our ballot boxes. 
She was the zig to my zag as our invalid votes made us attract. 
To raise cash for our first date, we called into a radio station to take part in a quiz called “Which is the dumber sex?” 
It involved the radio presenter asking us questions to determine who, based on our different answers, was the dumber sex. The winner got Shs100,000. 

The presenter asked my girlfriend the first question: “What is the word that comes after “Coca”. 
“Cola!” she instantly replied. “Correct!” the presenter shouted. 

Then, it was my turn. “What’s a ‘sarcophagus’ and what’s the origin of the word ‘afternoonified’?”
“Eh!” I yelped. “Wrong,” the presenter said with an air of finality. 
Then, he asked my girlfriend another question: “What’s your name?” “Alice!” she shrieked. 
“Well done!” the presenter exclaimed. “You’re really good at this!”  

Then he asked me: “What does ‘abstruse’ and ‘antediluvian’ mean?” 
“Huh,” I said. 

“Wrong, AGAIN!” he intoned. “Alice wins! You, Philip, are the dumber sex!” 
He said “dumber” like he meant to say “dumbest.”  “Lyiiee!” I replied in protest. 
But, suddenly, the phone lines went dead. 


I was humiliated on national radio and, to make matters worse, Alice refused to share her winnings with me. 
She said something about her money being her money and my money being our money. 

So I dumped her, and came up with the idea to create the Stingy Men’s Association Uganda (SMAU). Even though nobody acknowledges me as its founding father. After our breakup, Alice vowed to get revenge on me. 

After university, I had to find a job since my drinking habit wasn’t going to pay for itself.
Plus, I needed to style up my wardrobe. As I was largely dressed in promotional T-shirts with the words “Drink Club Beer” emblazoned across them. 
I looked like an endless commercial break from fashion sense. Anyway, I went for my first job interview. Only to find a former classmate on the panel. 

Immediately, my mind flashed back to when our high school English teacher asked the class for the noun of ‘gossip’. 
This dude’s arm shot up and he promptly answered, “Gossip Distributor.” 
During every exam, he was the Jay Z of multiple choice tests: he had 99 questions and a correct answer wasn’t one of them. He became a laughing stock.
Now, he was on the interviewing panel. And he was intent on erasing the memory of high school. That meant kicking me out of contention for this job. 

So his eyes reddened as he saw me and, like a raging bull, he pawed the ground in preparation to gore me to death.
The rest of the interviewing panel comprised one other person who was, Uh Oh, my ex! Alice!
Immediately, her angry mood seemed to contaminate the room’s air. 
Alice’s eyes became sharp daggers which stared so many holes into me, my body whistled when the wind blew.
I flunked the interview, obviously. 
But at least I picked up Shs10,000. It was “interview facilitation” money, I learnt. Not bad.
That money made me think of doing other interviews. If I could do 100 a week, I could make Shs1m a week as a professional interviewee. Then, I wouldn’t need a job.
As I trundled out of the interview room, I met William. 
He managed a bar in Kamwokya. 
We were old friends. 
So he felt he could trust me to run his bar on Friday night, as he travelled upcountry to return on Saturday morning. 
I agreed, as I had nothing better to do. 
However, by way of goodbye, William warned me not to get high on the booze supply.
“Never,” I replied.
“Never say never,” he rejoined.
“Unless you’re saying never twice,” I added.
He tilted his head in confusion, then went on his way. 
That Friday night, when word got around that I was the bartender, the bar was packed. 
By midnight, a beefy lady called Jackie danced on a table, and her twisting body movements set off a smoke alarm!
Yep, her hotness set the room on fire. 
When some dude tried to touch her, she went ballistic. And slapped him so hard that his face needed a manicure!
However, she cooled down and coaxed me into taking a drink. 
When I agreed, the night quickly descended into a roistering drink up. 
I can’t recall how it all ended.
However, in the morning, I found myself on the floor behind the counter. 
When William returned, he was taken aback. 

The bar was empty, not a drink in sight. 
While surveying the devastation with open-mouthed shock, William asked me what happened to all the drinks. 
Looking around in bewilderment, I replied: “I was stocktaking.”