I have always feared working as a promoter. I mean it takes courage to change people’s minds and as if that’s not enough, ask them to pay for it. That is why in the spirit of facing my fears head-on, I joined the “marketing field,” (no pun intended) to conquer my fears and get useful before I graduated into the corporate world.
At first, I was glad because I was in an avenue with like-minded individuals. We were all excited about visiting high-end clubs and restaurants in Nairobi, meeting new people every day, and with time, promoting was no more difficult than approaching the security guy to ask for directions. We strived to outdo each other in sales and with time we grew closer bonded by two goals. The need to hustle and the love for the finer things in life. I was basically a promo girl, what the company called a brand ambassador. (If only).
I was not ready though for the roller coaster ride that my job took me on. If it wasn’t harassment, it was someone willing to buy a drink for me if I only slept with them. The audacity of such twisted proposals overwhelmed me more than the invitation itself. One would remove his wallet to showcase the foreign notes he added to the Kenyan market on a daily basis, while the next would emphasize what he needed to show a young thing like me.
I remember one time someone asked me if I had a boyfriend and since I had to find an exit strategy, I said yes. What came next was a response that left my ovaries withering as he strived to explain why he was better. The irony being the fact that to him I embodied fertility more than his wife who was in England and his three daughters still in secondary school.
He didn’t say any less than the guy who owed me a tip did. So I went to fetch him a drink, which he felt was justified from the lip service I had given him for 30 long minutes. I mean talking, (get your mind off the gutters). As I returned with his drink, his friend whispered, “She is all face and no butt. Look at the one behind her.” I swallowed my pride and walked to him with a smile. People who say men are hard to come by don’t know where to look. This one right here was ready to make me his fifth wife even with my quarter butt.
So I excused myself with a ‘promise’ to see him later, after I finished work. My mind fixated on the guy who promised me a tip for my good services. Most of the time that was why we talked to many people anyway. Not everyone ignited good conversations. Some people were overly disrespectful, but as service providers, we had to believe the customer was always right. So tip hunting became the new mission for any job we did.
Tips catered for transport to work, food and upkeep. Our daily wages had a three-week delay, but in the meantime, you were expected to show up when called upon or the opportunity would be given to someone else.
Moreover, walking around for eight hours with a smile and a facial impression that exudes friendliness can blur the lines between tips given for sexual favours or grasping the opportunity to pay yourself. Aside from this, it could get embarrassing to always depend on your parents and yet you’re a degree holder. If you’re an unemployed graduate, you probably get the connection between the two. I mean people don’t expect a graduate, after wearing that gown and ensuring every follower on social media that God did it, to not have centavo. And especially if you are a woman with Rangi ya pesa.
So, in the end, what do we say? A girl’s got to work. And this was a justified means of survival.
(Survival is an instinct and it is only heightened depending on who you encounter and the context in which you find yourself).
I was in a jungle full of predators and in no position to act coy.
Upon seeing me, my tip guy smiled. He knew why I was approaching and I wasn’t good at beating around the bush. I’m better at it now if you’re asking. So I told him I needed to leave, though we would keep in touch and we would definitely meet again. A lie many of us told to pass the time and evade more chitchat.
I have never been humiliated like that before. The tip guy took out a 200 shilling note, asked me to fetch him two beers going at 90 shillings each and told me to keep the change. He still had to confirm that only 20 shillings remained since he asked me to show him the balance. As if that was not enough, this as the opportune time for him to share his sexy thoughts with me.
“Now that I have fulfilled my part, why don’t we step out and go in my car for a little while. It will only take five minutes and I promise, you will have a sweet time.”
With so many questions flowing in my mind and more disgust overwhelming me from the images floating through my mind, this is the night I learnt how it feels to puke in your mouth and swallow your own vomit. Clearly what’s good for the gander might not always be good for the goose.
Speaking of clubs and creepy men, check out The Singlehood Series: When Her Friend Was Trying To Pimp Her Out To A Nigerian Man