Since 1902

By Kipkoech Komugor

It is a generally accepted rule that you appear for a job interview dressed to kill. But in current soggy weather, chances are you’ll make your entry into the interview room looking like something the cat dragged in — and acting like a cat on hot bricks.

As Murphy’s Law would have it, your wakeup alarm in the morning of the interview day is likely to be heavy raindrops falling on the roof, instead of the irritating mobile phone alarm. Now that is the kind of rain that can only be described as malicious — the type that times its falling for five in the morning when people are

waking up to go to work, or five in the evening when workers are leaving for home.

Bashful maidens

Normally, the shrill phone alarm drives you crazy. But the rain alarm can only cause that resigned, fatalistic I-must-have-offended-the-gods feeling. Rain in the morning on a normal working day is bad enough, but on a job interview day? Where is Mother Nature’s sense of fairness? Planting trees in the Amazon?

Despite everything, you manage to make it to the bus stage, but not before performing all manner of complicated sports and body contortions to avoid stepping in the huge water pools on your way. Mercifully, you still have your 12th umbrella of the week (you lose them at the rate of two umbrellas a day) and it is doing a respectable job of keeping your well-pressed suit dry. Dry, that is, until one of your fellow travellers’ generous umbrella rivulets land on your shoulder. You wince and give the offender a look that says you wouldn’t mind being on Moreno-Ocampo’s list but she barely takes notice, no doubt drowned in her own wet worries about arriving in the office dripping like a watering can in a garden.

A whole minibus

The matatus take their sweet time in coming — why, oh why, do they insist on behaving like bashful maidens in Buckingham Palace when there is a downpour! You sigh with relief when you finally manage to squeeze into a minibus full of shivering people. But this sense of relief doesn’t last long when in the struggle to secure a seat, the sole of a brother’s shoe (which looks like it is a hand-me-down from God) lands on top of your special-for-interview shoe, leaving enough mud to smear a manyatta in its wake. Once again you get that resigned, fatalistic feeling.

Although you are enraged enough to swallow a whole minibus, crew, passengers and their muddy shoes included, you know you don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of coming on top if you picked a fight with Mr Size God Shoes.

interview venue

Usually, you are not the type to waste a good fight but you decide to let this one pass, not just because you are bound to lose but more importantly, because you reason that it is better to appear for an interview in muddy shoes than with a broken nose and blood all over the shirt.

Your rare logic ensures that you alight in town with your nose still in one piece leaving you with the wet jacket and muddy shoe to worry about. But a star-crossed wet day is really not complete until it is crowned with a good splashing of water from a vehicle flying past.

Just a few metres to the interview venue, one car driven by a very classy-looking sister — probably a corporate warrior hurrying to interview job applicants — does exactly that. The brown water washes a better part of your white trousers and the envelope of documents clutched to your side.

A woman panellist

It is thus a dripping-wet, muddy-shoed applicant clutching certificates that are a little better than paper syrup who shuffles into the interview room to the horror of the panellists. A woman panellist (she could be the one who splashed you with water just a few minutes ago for all you know) in a power suit, wrinkles her nose and promptly records "-2 out of 10" for grooming.

"What would you say is your strongest point?" a panellist asks as the interview nears the end. "I am a go-getter," you answer, feeling as phoney as a Sh30 note. "You mean go-wetter, don’t you?" Miss Power Suit mutters under her breath and shoots her own question: "And what would you say is your biggest weakness?" Feeling even phonier, you answer:

Miss power suit

"I have a weakness for neatness. I am obsessed with order… everything should be in their proper place and that sometimes turns off some people. You could say I am anal retentive if you are less charitable."

Miss Power Suit rolls her eyes in that ‘paah-liz!’ gesture that Nairobi damsels (who are never in distress) love to pull.

Minutes later, you are back on the streets feeling like a skunk that has been run over by the heartless traffic of the rat race. It is bad to be on the streets in this wet weather — literally and figuratively.