A light flashes from an early morning taxi in the always-busy Cape town CBD. I glanced at my wristwatch and walked towards my interview destination. At 27, being among the ever-rising number of unemployed graduates in South Africa, missing an interview was unthinkable.
Compounded by the fast encroaching 4th industrial revolution, my master’s degree in accounting might turn into dead rubber as the brick and mortar system in the banking sector might be a thing of the past.
Lost in thoughts as the building came into view, I jaywalked and was jolted by a car honking at me. I mumbled an apology only to get the middle finger from the driver. I had to gather my wits and concentrate on the task at hand.
Stepping into the building made my heart skip a beat; the serious business atmosphere was a far cry from the world I had gotten used to as an unemployed graduate.
Staying home had certainly knocked down my level of confidence, I had to dig deep to find my former self again. I took a deep breath to compose myself and calmly walked towards the reception desk.
“Good morning, my name is Sakile Dube,” I introduced myself to the receptionist who motioned to a chair while frantically punching away at her desktop keyboards.
After what felt like ages she finally responded, “Yebo sisi, how may I help you?”
“I believe I’m expected for a nine o’clock interview by Njeza investments.”
She looked up, scratched her forehead for a second then responded, “Oh yes, yes, you must be the early morning appointment, the CEO is expecting you. Third floor, room 18, I will inform her that you’re coming up, good luck.”
I took the elevator and found my way to room 18. As I approached the room, the door swung open and a rather elegantly dressed lady stood by the doorway to usher me in.
She looked in her mid-20s and was dressed in a neat two-piece business suit with matching high heels. She certainly looked beautiful and in charge.
“Ngena Sakile,” she said in a friendly tone like we were acquaintances.
Expecting the CEO to be male, I was taken aback but nervously stepped in and took a seat as per her command. We stared at each other for a fraction of a minute until she cleared her throat.
“You don’t recognise me, do you?”
I shook my head.
“No, not at all, have we met before?”
“Masimule High School, class of 2014, for you guys of course, I dropped out and got married.”
“I’m sorry, I’m still lost.”
“Lighten up Sakile, ke nna Bridget your former classmate. The Queen B as I was called in high school.”
I took another close look as she took off her reading glasses.
“Bridget? Bridget, the rude one? Lowa wayejola ne teacher and always in trouble li principal?”
“In the flesh ntombazana, I knew it was you when I saw your CV. Sakile, the A student, class genius, I thought you would be set by now.”
The last part made me flush a little.
“But how… ummh, I mean, you dropped out in grade 10 right?”
“Yes, I stopped fooling around with broke boys and got married to a rich businessman.”
“Kanjalo nje? I mean, is this your company?”
“Correct, all mine, I got married to a man twice my age but hey, who cares? I’m in a polygamous marriage, wife number three to be precise. Get yourself a rich man girl, and stop the heavy lifting.”
I don’t know what shocked me the most, her gloating or me envying her. All those varsity years of surviving on two-minute noodles and outstanding tuition debts, yet a high school dropout is a CEO of a finance company. Life isn’t fair sometimes.
“Aha, I see you have made it big ntombazana. I have a master’s in accounting but never been employed a day in my life, kunzima.”
“Keep up with the times girl, education is the key but the locks have been changed. Your paperwork looks very impressive. I will start you off as a paid intern. When can you start?”
“Ummh, I got the job? Even tomorrow sounds fine with me.”
“Perfect, tomorrow it is, bright and early.”
I couldn’t believe it. A former high school classmate that we thought would amount to nothing in life offered me a job just like that.
I thanked her and walked out with mixed feelings. I felt bitterness for being tossed a bone by someone who took a successful shortcut in life, and her words echoed in my head, “the locks have been changed.”