As He stepped away from the door and closed his eyes, he allowed himself the painful luxury of the relief the sliding tear offered.
Unperturbed about his obvious dejected state, he sat on the steps of the office complex and went into a state of retrospection of the events of the past 4hours, partly trying to find some closure like always, and partially trying to unchain himself from self-chide.
His earliest memories was of shuffling back and forth from the escape Adele’s music offered and the release Johnny Cash presented: on his dilapidating 7 year old I-pod that had passed through 3 hands in his disjointed clan.
He glanced across at all angles of the waiting room and registered the sights and persons present.
A split thermocool air-conditioner, a 32 inch flat screen tv and a four semi-attached fluorescent bulbs, all worked on.
‘Formal, cold and indifferent setting.’
He counted 25,26,27,28,29,30 figures.
Thirty expectant faces.
Most of them strained by constraints, yet bright.
Weakening, yet present.
All in search of pittance.
Hanging to hope and knocking on doors is a better prospect than disintegrating from depression in a society where all the opportunities and advantages rest with the fortunate.
‘He reassured himself and reaffirmed the justification of his determination.’
Truly, the worst alternative becomes the best option when all else goes south.
The walking cripple cannot afford to jump, for his chains will drag him back earthbound.
He was jolted back to consciousness by the voice of the secretary presently announcing that “your interview session will commence in 30 minutes.
You’ll be called in alphabetically”. She continued.
Once she delivered the message, she momentarily scanned through the faces seated and simultaneously brushed invisible dirts off her plaid skirt or probably straightened the already smooth couture.
How much can that cost, he wondered.
Can she be paid so much to be able to afford that, he pondered.
Vintage couture on a secretary!
As he was about to do a quick estimation, the impressive secretary turned smartly and elegantly sashayed back in.
As the door shut behind her, the whispers,furtive glances and conversations started.
All in effect to the information that had just been disseminated.
Everyone- except him and a cute petite at an ignored corner -processed, shared and reprocessed the announcement.
For the first time in the 2 hours since he had entered the waiting room or “lobby” as the twin-sign at the entrance spelt, he consciously, observed his immediate surroundings acutely, and perused and searched every person thoroughly in search of clues and tips that might define them, and their respective situation or station.
The young enthusiastic looking graduate in the lot looked 25max. Fresh graduate full of zeal and ambition.
New warrior in the labor-less labor jungle
He couldn’t have done ten interviews yet.
He was definitely the youngest of the mature crowd.
The man at the far right looked 31 or 32, probably put himself through school, with less than 3 years in the labour market. He looked partially self-satisfied at the feat of being present here.
The man at the middle of the adjacent -seated group looked to be nearing 40, the youngest he can be is 39. He wondered if he’s not above the required age.
The lady in the skirt suit who kept creeping outside to answer her phone like she was discussing national security looked 35-36, she’s probably a mother who had been pushed back into the labour market by the societal factors that have made “sole-breadwinner-ship” a rare luxury
She doesn’t want to be here, but she has to be there.
Less than halfway through his idle task, the impressionable secretary came out again to call the first interviewee “Could number 91come with me please?”
All of a sudden, his head went into overdrive on hearing “number 91″.
The day was Thursday and the initial interview was advertised as being a week long ceremony, and there were 30 heads present. This could only mean one thing; 30 people had been coming daily for the past 3 days,30 present today and definitely another 30 tomorrow. 150 “labour market” members with qualifications like ‘ Bsc and Masters’ were applying for a position that probably won’t pay above 45thousand naira monthly.
A hundred and fifty people jostling mentally and jousting mutedly for a single, sole, one position.
Has it become this bad, ‘he half-whispered.
Expectedly, he got no response nor acknowledgement to his illegible phrase.
Sighing with double defeat,he picked up his nokia torch-light phone from his lap and typed a quick text message ‘too many people here’ to his mother, his sole charitable outlet and currently, irritable supporter.
After 9 years in the underfed labour pool, he was 35, living with his long retired mother, his father recently passed away.
He was flat broke, his weight was too heavy,even for himself to carry.
He was often deadbeat.
Most of the time, literally walking dazed and figuratively jay-walking through the system.
Close to a hundred interviews, aptitude tests and even once upon an age, a training exercise.
All in vain till now, no job, nothing concrete, no love from any quarters.
The lucky applicant per interview almost always knows someone, ‘long leg is what they have, which I lack’, was his constant complaint to his mum.
‘We have God’, his mother always reminded him.
He heard his number the fourth time it was called. He jolted back to the moment to find everyone staring at him strangely.
Apparently, she had called his number thrice already and since it was obviously written on the tag around his neck, by the third call, everyone knew he was the one being called.
He stood abruptly, straightened his frame, gave them all a cold brief stare that meant ‘what’s your business’ and faced the secretary saying ‘shall we’?She looked at him as if to ask why it took him forever to answer her call but decided against the action after probably realizing that she wouldn’t get a flattering response.
Once again, she swiveled around smartly and he strode behind her, walking in to another one, another interview, another hopeful venture, yearning for the best like the last time and the time before.