I Pissed Off A Black Dude

I’d just arrived in the ČR and was on a mission. I was a black flamingo and wanted to find like birds to share that feeling with. I smiled and exchanged hellos with every black person I came across (5 on a very good day). I envisioned crazy bootie shaking nights out, evenings demolishing kilos of roasted meat without being shy about it and relaxed strolls talking about how beautiful but dusty sweet mother Africa is.

I did, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. There are some truly crazy Africans over here! Misunderstandings were bound to happen and I left one alpha male royally pissed off…

I got on the Metro one evening after work and flopped onto a seat next to the only other black person. I sighed my tiredness away, turned to him and offered my hand. Hello. He responded with such enthusiasm that any misgivings his outfit had provoked evaporated. He was about 35 and spotted a beard that must have taken hours to sculpt. His hair, worn in a short Afro, and his loud outfit combined to give an air of exoticism. He had on a pair of navy blue & white-checkered trousers, a colorfully patterned shirt and a glittery waistcoat to bring everything into perspective. A pair of snakeskin pointy shoes completed his look. We launched into an animated conversation about our respective histories and what-do-you-dos. He complimented my hair, outfit, engagement ring (!) and the way I talked (I know…. I too have no idea what that meant). He was married to a Czech woman, I was engaged to a Czech man and he reckoned there was quite a lot we still had to talk about. Phone numbers were exchanged and promises to meet soon were made. He seemed like a nice guy.

Lucky - unlucky part 2

Salesgirl or...?

Day 1

I arrived at work an hour early and whiled the time away at an Internet café close by. At 9:00 am, I made my way to the shop and found my new colleagues seated at a neighboring fast-food restaurant, waiting for Boss to come open the shop. We were 7 salesgirls in all, 3 new. Why so many? Hellos were exchanged and we’d just launched into get-to-know-each-other conversations when suddenly, the older girls stopped talking and bolted towards the shop entrance. Then, an urgent hiss, ”Boss is coming!” I looked in the direction one was pointing and saw Boss, 250m away and walking leisurely towards us. Boss expected his salesgirls to wait at the shop door. He sauntered over, greeted us in a pleasant voice, looked at me and exploded! Boss was deeply offended by the denim dress I was wearing. Jeans had no place in his shop. What made me think jeans were acceptable business attire?  Jeans are for weekends. I was given a week to overhaul my wardrobe. Sigh! One, he’d wrongly assumed denim was all I had. Two, what a laughable request! He’d offered me peanuts, which I’d taken only because he’d said my salary would increase with time.

We set about making the shop sparkle; cleaning the glass windows, sweeping and mopping the floor, dusting the shelves, polishing the display cabinets, tidying up and emptying chomi the cat’s litter box. One of the older girls cleaned the toilet, a chore we’d all take turns doing. That was fine by me, until I tried using it. Nature called and I’d just closed the toilet door when it rattled with a series of rapid knocks. One of the older girls motioned for me to get out and filled me in on the shop etiquette.

Lucky - Unlucky part 1

The interview

No, I’m no layabout. In fact, by the time I was 20, I’d crocheted to earn money, worked as a lawyer’s receptionist, a salon receptionist, a typist, as a cleaner/messenger at a reputable interior design store and more; most during school breaks but some alongside school.  

I was 19 and in the midst of a deep bout of self-pity. See, the US embassy had just stolen my golden egg. I'd been denied a student visa (My sponsor was American and I was an orphan with weak family ties to Uganda - a potential immigrant). I needed a job to keep me sane till the next University  intake in Uganda. As luck would have it, my brother had spotted an advert for a job he thought was right for me.

“The proprietor of Man About Town, an authorized dealer in Pierre Cadin men’s clothing is searching for beautiful and intelligent sales girls. Hand in your applications together with a photograph by xx.xx.xx. Interviews will take place xx.xx.xx at the shop located on xxxxxx road,  Kampala.”  

Damn! The applications deadline was long past and interviews would be the very next day, a Sunday. A quick online search revealed Pierre Cardin to be a high-end brand. The salary would be decent. I had to attend that interview. I’d wake up early and be first in line at the shop. I’d plead my case and try to hand in the application letter and hopefully, I’d dazzle enough to at least be granted an interview.