When you are in your 20s, your worldview is very queer, skewed and contorted. Just after campus, you feel like the world wouldn’t move without you. You are ignorantly aware of the fact that the role you play is invaluable and you can president comfortably and run the country in a way Obama can’t match. Your head is swollen with pride and you think a degree is an achievement. You wonder why people are jobless. You imagine this ideal life of rising in the corporate ladder faster than Bahati rose to presidency. You think you will drive, a year after campus and be a CEO 2 years later. Your thoughts are just uninformed.
So that is how my ignorant self was, last year, just after Moi University. When you are from Moi, you passed through Hercules tests and when you emerge alive, you are a victor. You survived the electric shocks when cooking with the cheap electric coil. You used Mwax successfully and were never caught, or when a kiherehere lecturer like Dr. Sang almost caught you, you swallowed it in an incredible gulp and sat still, innocently. You successfully scrambled for a room in admin block and once sat on someone’s neck when scrambling for the silly stamp on the receipts. More still, you did the take-away cat in one hour on the deadline day and passed magnificently. You had missing marks when you were finishing 4th and learnt few Kale words like Tugul, Acha Megee and that dark administrator with elongated teeth grinned and dug deep in a dusty box and behold, your marks resurrected from the pile. Then, miraculously, you found yourself in the graduation list and for the second last time, scrambled for the graduation regalia in one of the old buildings, unscrupulously telling the sweating comrades, “woiiiye am pregnant. Mtaua mtoto…” so they let you pass amidst tough scrutiny. So you graduated.
Soon, you miraculously get a job, after rigorous interviews. So you now find yourself in a new environment called corporate world. An uptight world with uptight people. The language used here kills you every single second. Please action. Please keep me in copy. Regards. Escalate. The standard procedure. Might you have challenges? Confirm attendance. Outline you SMART objectives. PDR. The jargon makes you dead inside but you are determined to fit, yet remain sane. You wonder why you can’t come to office at your own convenience. You look at emails and shake your head. Don’t people have a life?
Now, just for a second, imagine you are manager dealing with this Gen x. You have your life and goals too. You have a family to worry about, bills to pay, targets to meet, and now, a sickening overgrown teenager, fresh from campus, who thinks they are smarter than everyone. They look at you like an enemy out to destroy. The truant is poor at answering emails and has a hard time using professional language in the email. You send her one,
Good morning Pamba,
Did you review the objectives and reset them as advised yesterday? Kindly reply and consult if you need assistance.
You look at email and say, what is wrong with her? You sit down and reply, rolling your eyes.
What exactly am I reviewing, again? Thought we done with those things.
She looks at you and smiles. Poor kid! She has a long way to go. So she calls you aside to whisper. “My dear, we need to set some targets and you have to try and achieve. We can check weekly if you have achieved and I can help you achieve them. Then, in the emails, try to use better language. Your language is not bad. But try to say use a better tone and sign out the email with regards, kind regards… I know it is hard, but you will get used to it.”
Are there such managers? Are there such bosses? Many bosses will look and you and predict a bleak future for you, send you a warning letter and before you wake up, you are exiting the company shamefully. But mine is one you’d want to work under. Oh dear Lord bless her immensely. Dear madam boss, where did you learn such patience? How have you managed to remain sane, dealing with us, of a wanting generation? Amidst all the pressures that come with achieving revenue for the company, you still hold us close to you and say, relax, life is meant to be lived. Mistakes are there to be made. Live your age. It is okay. But learn. Listen. And grow. Had you been impatient and rush, I would have been fired probably on the second day of work. Well, I am still learning, am less harsh in my emails, don’t you agree?
When I grow up, I want to be like you.