Jun 19, 2007

My First Day at Work

Yesterday (Monday) I found one paradox in human make up. For all this time I have been telling my prospective employers of all my capabilities, and have been able to express my suitability as an applied Social Science Researcher with unquestionable clarity and lucidity. Would you believe today that the first question that I asked my supervisor after she had described what I shall be doing as a Research Intern was “What is it that I shall be doing as a Researcher Nirvana?” My supervisor’s name is Nirvana by the way. I thought I was being silly at the first instance but I discovered the relevance of my question later.
I had not been clear about what I had precisely wanted to know but it dawned, as Nirvana replied me, that what I wanted to know was what my job will entail. Therein lies the power of questioning-getting to know what it is that you have to do.
Sometimes you get nervous when you have to ask in order to get some clarity on a particular issue. This is often true if the person you have to ask is one of seniority. Causes of that are multiple but I think chief among these is the feeling that asking questions will expose the stupidity in you, and the emptiness that fills your medulla oblongata, and thus bring to question your credentials as a newly recruited employee. Let me share with you some wisdom that I begot from my mother. She said:
“Look Mbuso, if you ask a question, you appear stupid for a very short time but become wise for the rest of your life.” The vice versa is true. I cannot go further lest I dilute such great wisdom.
I had gone for an interview at Health and Development Africa (HDA) on the 4th of June. It was not an interview as such but an informal chat with Dr Gill and Saul Johnson, both directors at the company. I got an offer of an internship from Dr. Gill through an e-mail last week on Thursday. Yesterday was my first day at work. What a day it was. I have hitherto alluded to contradictions in me. I must state one of these at this juncture. One must be familiar with the kind of feeling that one develops when one believes that his/her colleagues have left him/her in the race. Such was my feeling when almost all the 2007 WoW interns, save for me, were invited to interviews immediately at the end of the training programme. I knew Lesley and Jean could not neglect me but I must be honest to say that a thought of being abandoned was beginning to creep in my mind. Doubt was beginning to build itself into an imposing edifice. Every time I had to think of myself, I saw a deficit in me that needed to be attended to.
But here comes a call on Thursday the 13th of June from HDA inviting me to an interview. An hour later, I receive a call from Lesley informing me of the same interview.
Interestingly, Lesley had this to say: “Mbuso do not put on your white suit.” Our telephonic conversation was too short that I could not tell her that it would have been impossible to put on that white suit again because on the day I had put on it, I had borrowed it from a friend. He would have been less willing to lend it to me for the second time around! Besides, he has since relocated to Cape Town!
The last thing Lesley said was: “Mbuso, do not put on your spectacles because one can hardly see your eyes when you are putting on them.” Surely, I could not resist such strategic advice.

So, yesterday was my first day at work. I arrived at 8.00am and found two of the company directors already in. There are three directors at HDA. The working environment is fabulous and the patrons very interesting. At 08.30, we went for a meeting during which I was introduced to the rest of HDA staff, and where I had the chance to introduce myself to them all. At 10.00am I had a project meeting with my supervisor and three other colleagues. We are working on a project on the provision of psychosocial support to HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Eastern Cape Province’s four districts of Lady Freire, Lusikisiki, Dutywa, and Port Elizabeth. My job is to research on background material for the programme. The programme runs for a year beginning from now up to next year around this time. The meeting lasted from 10-2 pm after which I was so exhausted and hungry. I could not, however, eat because I had a stomach disorder that had kept producing funny sounds even during the two meetings. Thanks to caring HDA patrons who turned these horrible sounds into a joke: “Mbuso’s stomach gymnastics!”

I spent the rest of the day at my office that I share with a lovely lady called Nicky. The whole day was an interesting one. I had to smile and smile, nod and nod, yes and yes, okay and okay until I was okayed! I had to laugh and pretend that I was laughing. I had to maintain a professional posture, things that are hard to do especially when you engage into a conscious effort to do them. I did not have my own laptop but it will be availed on Wednesday. The human journey has reached its zenith. Do I have the steam to keep going?

Alas, I had to sympathize with the company patrons. When we arrived in the morning we found that company offices had been broken into. Only a projector was stolen. It appears this happened over the weekend. This is the second time, I am told, the company offices have been broken into. The last time there was a burglary, a whole lot of computers were stolen. This time around, only a projector was snatched! Dr. Saul Johnson, one of the HDA directors, said of the latest break-in: “This is an indication of the fact that HDA is growing from strength to strength!” It appears the thieves used the basement door of the building and hawksawed themselves into one of HDA offices where there was the projector. It looks like they triggered the alarm system in the process which led them to leave before they rampaged and looted the offices of my beloved company.
The talk of burglary, the Stallion bosses, the Stallion Security Company was contracted to man the building; and concerns on security of company property, punctuated the conversations of the day. I pray that the commercial guardian angel shall protect our priced company. Long live HDA.
What a day of fun, activity, and surprises.


Susan Arthur said...

Hi Mbuso, so glad you're working with AIDS related topics. That's really horrible about the break in! Thanks for your 'smile and nod' comments.. especially on the first day, you tend to do that a lot, and it can be quite exhausting! I'll remember your mother's advice about asking questions, as often it's better to ask than not to know what to do. Keep us posted on your progress. GO WOW TEAM 2007!

Susan Arthur said...

PS your post is quite long.. next time, try make it shorter, or at least break it up into 2 different posts. Paragraph spacing would make it easier to read. I wasn't really sure what you were getting at with the Nirvana thing?

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

Mbuso, I am pleased that you seem to be really loving where you are at the moment. Congratulations again. May I suggest that in your next insert, you start with for example the description of your first day, then after that your reflections. I just thought it would be less long-winded that way. I liked the part where you said you had to nod, laugh, okay until you were 'okayed'. Interesting. Keep on shining!!

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

Yes Suse!! Mbuso got his coveted HIV/AIDS related internship. I just realised that it's for a year! That is so great. Susan you don't know the evil villian-ess Nirvana from Scandal(tv series)? Mbuso check out Roy Blumenthal's comment and advice on leaving space in-between our posts.

Adam N. Mukendi said...

Wow-wow-wow! This is one of interesting post I have read till now concerning the first day. Bravo! Professory. You will make it-I know. Have this as lesson in your life-don't think that you are left behing because you see others speeding forward. Everyone has his day and no one can take it away from you. What a funny story brrrrrr. You are so sincere! This writing is one of your clearest, no too much philosophies. All the best.

Thomas Blaser said...

Mbuso, you sound like you have a great time. Congratulations and enjoy the ride.

Valentin said...

Mbuso, congratulations again on your new job.
I wish you to do all the best you could do there and feel happy about what you are doing after all!
Keep on blogging about your new job!