Ivie should have realised something was amiss when she got the message. It read;
“You are hereby invited for an interview at No.4 Sorinolu St.off Opebi Junction Ikeja.
NB:Come along with your credentials and prepare for 2weeks intensive training by Next Monday .Call 090*****for enquiries.
It was more than a year since she had been out of work,her previous employer had given her responsibilities that weren’t part of her job. But the annoying part were the long hours and constant debt, she had gotten tired and left. A lot had happened since then;she was married now and had a baby, but finances were lean. Her husband tried his best but even that was barely able to keep them comfortable. He was getting agitated and she could see the signs. So as soon as she got the message she began preparation for the interview which was to come up in two days time.
She rang her mum with a request to baby sit while she was away, she and her husband had decided that it was needless to bring a help early in their marriage; The arrangement worked while she was still jobless,but they planned to change it once she got a job. Her mum obliged her request,she was always delighted at every opportunity to see her grandchild ,she was the first and only one for now and although they lived in the same town, she didn’t see her enough,as they lived a far distance away. They planned to meet at the catholic church close to the venue, her mum and the baby would remain in the chapel while she hastily attended the interview( or so she thought).
Later on that night, she stayed up late studying interview questions and answers, she packed the babys’ bag, pressed her dress and set the alarm for 4:30am. As she cooed her baby to sleep she did a mental question and answer routine after which she said a silent prayer of thanks,trusting that at long last this was HER job. With that in mind,she drifted off to sleep.
She woke up at exactly 4:30 the next morning, even before the alarm rang,she lived in the outskirts so she had to factor “traffic time” into her schedule like she always did.
She left at 5:30am with her sleeping baby strapped to her back, hoping to get some rest before the interview began. Ivie anticipated the traffic; Infact, everyone staying in Lagos knew of the “legendary Ikorodu traffic”, so a little grid lock along the route was expected, but today the traffic was “hellish” to put it mildly. After spending 4 hours on a journey that was supposed to last for an hour and 30minutes. The clouds started darkening and then Ivie started to pray. She prayed against ancestral curses,against monitoring spirits,against demonic watchers. She prayed fervently for the rains to hold, and the heavens responded with a heavy downpour,the rains came down in all its fury.
Eventhough she had an umbrella,She kept thinking of the stress of carrying the baby who was already making a fuss due to discomfort,finding shelter from the rains and making it in time for the interview.
However,she was in luck, her brother in law worked close to the venue so he dropped her off ,after she handed over the baby,who was already asleep at the time to her waiting mum. She got to the venue 30minutes late but in time to meet about 30 people sitted at the reception, she joined them after writing her name in the log book. Ivie settled down and surveyed the environment,as she did she had an uneasy feeling. The office felt more like a room in a big residential flat,and there was no signpost with the company name. Just a banner that read “FAST TRACK YOUR WAY TO YOUR DREAM JOB, GET TRAINED AND GET PAID”
It was quiet as every one was absorbed with something on a book or their phones. After two failed attempts at chatting with the lady sitted by her side, she stretched her neck to see what she was doing on her phone,she was just in time to get a glare from the lady who noticed and turned her phone away. But not before Ivie saw the dark green colour and banner of the nairaland homepage.
After about thirty minutes;in which she had called her mum four times to ask about the baby who was sleeping on three occassion,and playing the last time she called,She got a major tonguelash from her mum,who warned her not to call again till the interview was over. She observed a short while later that all those who had gone in,didn’t come back into the lobby on their way out. She could tell because the only people that had gone through the main door in that time,were two sunburned oyibo who spoke to the receptionist in disjointed english and carried on with an air of importance. From the way the receptionist addressed each of them, Ivie knew they certainly occupied top position. She thought to herself that the other jobseekers must have gone through a different exit.
After spending two gruelling hours, it got to her turn. The receptionist led her into an adjoining room,much different from the one where they waited. It had a green interior,and was fully furnished,just like those in high brow locations. About seven or eight well dressed young ladies and gentle men sat at different angles in the large room glued to their computer screen,and a candidate sat facing each of them. They moved their gaze from the screen once in a while,to address those seated in front of them. Immediately she spotted the “nairaland” lady ,she had an earpiece on and was speaking to her interviewer.
The youngman Ivie was assigned to directed her to a seat facing him,he looked quite young; less than thirty. Sunny(as the name tag on his desk suggested) smiled genuinely at her and apologized for the delay,he introduced himself still and began asking routine questions. After a few questions, he asked abruptly..”Are you ready to begin training next monday?” Her heart started skipped a bit,she could barely hide her excitement but she kept a straight face; Just then she remembered; “I plan to take my daughter for immunization that day”she quipped,”but I can begin the next day”.she hastily added. “What time are you going for the immunization” he asked. After which he suggested that she attended the evening class. She gladly accepted,holding her breath,waiting for him to talk of the terms of employment and salary. But instead he asked , “What’s the job of a customer service agent”? She had prepared for this question,So she confidently reeled out the answers. He nodded his head slightly,and then he started briefing her about the training,the duration of the classes and all that she should expect. He handed her a headphone that was plugged to the laptop in front of him. He said it was the audio conversations between the customer service officers they had trained and clients. She put the headphone on and listened. For a moment she couldn’t make out the first few sentences because the words were heavily accented. She was about to tell him that he gave her the wrong recording; that this came straight from an american movie. But she held back. After playing three different audio recording, He asked “What do yo think”?
She asked a question in response..”Are they Nigerians”? Beaming from cheek to cheek he proudly said,”Yes! we trained them to speak that way”. She held her words back immediately. It obviously seemed like a feat to him,He handed out a leaflet,as he told her how they trained even for major organizations. She nodded as she scanned through the leaflet he gave her. Something was wrong here, It specified in details the duration of the training,companies you were going to work with,*american*english training,and the amount to be paid.
That was when she deflated. She felt bad,sad,angry and dissapointed for putting herself and her five months old baby through the trouble. But she kept a straight face and innocently asked “This figure here, is it included”? He responded with a bemused look “Of course,did you expect that you were going to be trained,and given a job for free?” She told him she had no idea that she was going to pay any money let alone seventy thousand naira ,he made a feeble attempt at defending their stand, Saying “We could not tell you that in the message,we had to interview you to make sure you were right for the position”.
“May I have your cv and passport”he said. Absentmindedly,she handed them to him, still thinking of how much stress and money she had wasted to get here. He stapled the passport to a consent form and handed it to her..”How much are you willing to pay now? It’s on discount now,if you pay after today you will have to pay more than 75,000.
Her eyes widened. At that moment she lost her cool, Standing up abruptly..she stretched her right hand “Hand me my cv”. He was startled”Erm Madam,U ca,can”.He stammered. “Please give me my cv” She said louder this time, other members of staff now watched in rapt attention. He raised the hands which held the document,trying to say something more. She forcefully dragged the paper from him,tore out her passport, picked up her bag and stomped out angrily.
She could feel their eyes boring holes into her back,as she marched out through the lobby. She couldn’t care less, the only thought on her mind,was how to take her suckling baby home.