Chronicles Of Lockdown: Depressed And Jobless, I Look To Oprah For Guidance
2020 came with great prospects. I had just moved out of my parents’ house in Port-Harcourt and fully settled into the Lagos life. My job could cover my rent and virtually all my bills.
I had no reason to complain. Then COVID-19 came and my life hit the hard reset button. It started first as a rumour and then the rumour became a harsh reality when the email from my boss’s boss hit my inbox with the subject “RETRENCHMENT.”
It happened so fast. I woke up one morning with my bills secured and I went to bed in the night as a bona fide member of the ever increasing statistics of unemployed Nigerian youths. But I didn’t come to terms with my new status immediately I joined the league.
I restocked my house with more food. I fuelled my generator and left it running for days, I renewed my Netflix subscription and streamed shows from my computer. I called a few exes on WhatsApp and FaceTimed my family in Port-Harcourt. Then I ran out of money and here I was, in my newly furnished apartment, the Honda I hadn’t finished paying for packed outside, jobless and broke with no idea what my next meal will be.
After a few days of starvation, I called my parents and broke the news to them. I degraded back to the weekly “pocket-money-collector” life I had left behind. It was hard, but I had to put food on my table. I opened my laptop. Updated my CV, drafted a new cover letter and started the search for a new job.
Months passed, the lockdown was over and Lagos was once again bubbling with the towering bells and Instagram captions of millennials landing gigs. But not for me this time.
I sent in more job applications and then more job applications. I opened my Message Version Bible and read a few passages. Then I went to bed and prayed.
I closed my windows, wrapped myself in the duvet I got from The Palms Shopping Mall in February. I deleted my Twitter and then my Instagram, and then Subway Surfers. I picked up Okay Ndibe’s Foreign Gods Inc. and read it for the hundredth time. My life was encapsulated in a forge of darkness. It felt like being in an abusive relationship that I just couldn’t leave.
I felt the world stop and I just couldn’t stop falling. I was in the sunken place and I couldn’t save myself.
Then I read Oprah Winfrey’s What I Know For Sure. And then I read more of it. The book quickly became the only thing I read. I flipped open the Safari browser on my phone and searched for more job openings and then applied for even more.
The first month went by. Then second month breezed through and then the email came. It was a job interview. I immediately responded.
“Yes I will be available for to come in for a chat on Monday.” I took out the Mark and Spencer’s shirt I bought at Ikeja City Mall last year. It was my good shirt. It was tighter now though, from all the unneeded trips to the fridge during the endless days of lockdown. My trousers were tighter too. I looked at the advert for the job once more on LinkedIn. “You must not be more than 25,” “You must have at least 3 years’ experience,” it demanded amongst other things.
I headed out for the interview with the conscious decision of not going out with a brown envelop, which inadvertently meant not going with hard copies of my CV. With a cross body bag, I hit the road.
There were nine other people to be interviewed for the role. We had a written test. 50 questions for one hour. And then we had an oral test. I finished the written test first, making me the first person to go in for the oral interview. I left the office immediate after.
I Ubered back to my flat in Surulere and waited for the email. On Tuesday night, I got the call. “You have been considered for the role.” “Thank you,” I said. I FaceTimed my family in Port-Harcourt. The pay is ten percent lesser than my previous job, but I would make it work. I had to make it work.
On Monday, I got dressed in a stripped blue long sleeve shirt and black trousers accented with black suede derby shoes. The office was smaller than my previous one, with an even smaller team. I went to Human Resources and submitted my NDA.
Then, I went to Operations and signed my new laptop and phone. I unboxed my new computer and phone. Logged in my company email. Pulled out the WordPress website and got to work.