July 17, 2012

It's been a while

...is the title of the song I am listening to right now. It's a song by Staind, and its got nothing to do with this post. I am typing this as I try so hard to ignore this dude on Facebook who i am regretting why i added him.  He is telling me how much he has been looking for me, how he loved me (what?), and how he went to my former college to look for me and was told I left the country, and how that made him lonely to the borne (sic). So we worked together once, on one of those jobs I have stopped (actually never did) put on my CV. You know those inconsequential jobs that borders sales and hawking. Yep, I said it, I used to be a hawker. Something that made my mother want to lock me up in the house and explain to her what I lacked. I was 19 and rebellious. I packed my bag and left home. I was a grown up, I was tired of being told what to do, tired of wanting to do stuff and couldn't because my hometown is the kind that nothing happens. Don't get me wrong, Nakuru is a beautiful town, but its where people go to retire, not where ideas get bounced around and young people thrive. I mean, my parents built a 2 bedroom house, own compound and stuff for rent and they could only get KES 4,800 from it then! If only they could uproot that house and move it to...I don't know, Hurlingham. Then I would never feel the need to want to work. I lie, I still would. I wanted to do things with my life. My father wanted his girls to do nothing. Sit at home and wait for him and mom to provide. He used to say 'You have the house, a huge compound, TV, movies, books, what do you need to get out for?' He meant well. He had 4 girls. And if you had us 4 girls, you would want to leash us. We got our stubbornness from mother, and it was hard to reign us in. So one day, I ran away. To the big city. Like all rich girls do. We were not that rich, but we never lacked, and went to the best schools. You could say I was a bit spoiled. Not Paris Hilton spoilt - I had to do my laundry and share house chores with our housegirl, hard to work hard, but I did not know what 'not having' meant. And I thought people were stupid for saying there were no jobs. The newspapers classified section was full of them! By then, I had a few years of working experience. I had taught IT, worked at a  CyberCafe, Executive Assistant-ed some Artist...who in his right mind would refuse to give me a job? So I started job hunting.

Lesson no.1 - I had to pay to attend interviews. And I did. I know what you are thinking. I paid cash. I was 19, shut up. After a while, I discovered that there was a reason why many people were not clamoring for these pay for interview seemingly abundant jobs. There did not exist. I was running out of money. I made one final call. It was marketing company, they said. Earn and get trained. I went for the interview. I passed. Anyone could. As long as you could talk, you could work there. The job was simple. The company gave you a merchandise, you went out and sold it. You kept 10% of the sales. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Except they gave you things like 'Thermo Coolers'. And they looked something like this
They are not small, trust me. They were 10 litres capacity. As if that was not enough, they came with their 'young ones'. 5 litres capacities that could fit inside the 10 litre one. Which was a good thing because we had to carry the damn things around!
Reason why I said hawkers. We would meet in the office, start off with inspirational / motivational talk. You know, those ones that show you an image and ask you if you see an old woman or a young beautiful woman with a hat...power of positive thinking....easier for him(our boss) to say, especially since he was always sitting in his cozy office as we too to the streets. I digress. We would then pick our products and head out. I was new to this thing. There were veterans. I had no idea where to start. So I got into a matatu to the city centre. Did not sell to anyone. Then I took another matatu to the neighbourhood I was living at. Walked around for forever, stopped for lunch, dropped by home to change from the high heels...Yes, I had gone to work in high heels. They never said I was going to spend the whole day walking!  Did not sell in my neighbourhood either. In the evening, I took another matatu back to the office. Few of us had not sold, others had sold and even gone back to get more. Three times! Second day I decided to follow one of the highest selling people. They did not like the idea, but if you know me, you know I can charm anyone into anything. I was determined. This girl could sell a fridge to an eskimo. I watched her in action and knew my future was not in sales...or hawking, whatever you wanna call it. She sold her thermocooler, and left me to go get more. We had a name for going back for more merchandise, i forget what it was. I sold the big one, was not able to sell the little one. We had been warned again selling the small one first. The price of the big one was 1000, the small one 500. But we were to sell both for 1,500 and give a 'discount' by 'throwing in' the small one. But sometime, if you met a really interested buyer, who only had 1,000, then you sold the big one only. I broke the rules once. I was easier to sell the small one, after all, people could afford 500. After 1 week, i was getting tired. I was running out of money--I was not selling, but was still spending on transport. You see, what I did not learn was that no one took matatus to their hawking areas. They walked. I soon learnt why when i completely ran out of money. I would leave the house- spend 50shs on transport to work. Get to work, pick my stuff. Pick an area in Nairobi get into a matatu- 20 shs. Assume I sold both thermocoolers, that would be 150 shillings for me. To go back to pick more product, pay about 20shs in busfare. Would take forever to walk to the office, pick more product and chances are I wouldn't sell as it would be too late in the day. Go back to the office to return unsold product, pay busfare - 20 shs. Drop off product, go home - busfare - 50shs. Morning go to work  50 shs. If you are doing the math, you can probably see this is not a very clever business- for me. So I stopped using matatus during the day and walked everywhere. Boy, did I grow thin! I was not eating either-- I was never hungry anyway. My appetite seemed to know there was not money anywhere, so decided to keep away. I would only pay the 100 shs to and fro work. Challenge then was that I had to sell atleast one one thermocooler a day to get 150, then spend 100 of that on transport, save the 50. Sounds easy, huh? Would be, if anyone was buying the stupid thermofuckers.

The sales pitch went something like ' Hello, My name is so-and-so from XYZ Marketing. Today I want to talk to you about blah blah, just arrived from China...If you put hot water it stays hot, if you put cold water it stays cold.' Over the weeks, I mastered the sales pitch, and even added fake stuff like, if you put cooked food, it worked like a freezer, would not go bad. Oh yeah, some bought that line! We had to dress as if we were going to an office. Boss always said that if we looked good and presentable, people would want to talk to us. Except we would be lagging giant plastics around in business suits....

***I found this in my drafts. I cannot be bothered to finish it. Maybe one day I will finish this story for you. Maybe.

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