Authors: Caroline Adhiambo Jakob
Caroline Adhiambo Jakob
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
© 2012 by Caroline Adhiambo Jakob. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.
Published by AuthorHouse 07/09/2012
ISBN: 978-1-4772-0375-0 (sc)
ISBN: 978-1-4772-0377-4 (hc)
ISBN: 978-1-4772-0376-7 (e)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012908459
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Germany, 2009, Summer Sale
Germany, 2009, Mother
Kenya, Nyayo Stadium
Germany, 2010, My Dream
Germany, 2010, the Farewell Party
Germany, 1990, a cellar in Germany
Germany, 2010, Öko Sisterhood
Germany, 2010, My Departure
Kenya, 2010, My Arrival
Germany, Job Search
Germany, 2010, the Purse
a Night Out in Nairobi
Germany, My new job
Kenya, 2010, a walk in the park
Germany, House Hunting
Germany, 2010, My Memory
Kenya, 2010, Mr. Makokha
Germany, 2010, Discounter
Kenya, 2010, Car Rental
Germany, 2010, Fair
Germany, 2010, my husband
Kenya, 2010, the hairdresser
Germany, 2010, the brown paper bag
Germany, 2010, Coming Home
Kenya, 2010, Philippe’s Visit
Kenya, 2010, Nadia
Germany, 2010, My Beliefs
Kenya, 2010, The End
The Woman from the Mkokoteni
To the wonderful trio in my life who make everything worthwhile:
My husband Tobias, for all the smiles and especially all the sighs whenever I narrate my not so few ‘what if’ scenario stories. I love you!
My seven year old daughter Nathalie, for all the lovely drawings and the letters that you tirelessly gift me. My favorite? ‘I love you mummy especially when you prepare me pancakes!’ Unconditional love indeed. I love you!
My two year old son Cornelius, for all the times you spray your toys and anything you come across around the house. It is especially funny when you do it ten times in a row. I love you!
Making judgments about other people requires that we understand
where they are coming from; their motivations and their fears.
Only then, can we claim to know them.
brushed my hair one more time and examined my face in the small pocket mirror that I carried in my bag. I could feel the excitement building up. I walked to the door and turned one more time to look into the room.
, I thought as I walked out.
“Hello, I am Irmtraut,” I said pleasantly, stretching my arm out to greet the lady sitting rigidly at the reception. Her back was straight, and I suspected that it had nothing to do with good posture. She looked startled. She had probably been hoping for a bit more time to go through the bunch of papers lying on her lap.
She stood up and extended her hand. She wasn’t tall, at most 5' 4”. Her dark hair was held firmly in a ponytail. She had wide eyes, which somehow hardened her face.
, I thought. I had always equated big eyes with gentleness.
“I am Emilia,” she muttered breathlessly. I noticed the firm handshake.
“Did you have a good drive down here?” I continued pleasantly. “The traffic is horrible,” I added.
She smiled tentatively. “No, I actually came by train.”
“Perfect! Brilliant choice!” I said cheerfully. “Please come with me.”
She grabbed the bunch of papers and threw it into her bag. It was a fairly big handbag. I also noted that it wasn’t cheap. I let her walk in front of me. There is nothing like watching someone from the back.
On the way, Friedrich stopped us. “Could you please get Emilia something to drink?” I asked pleasantly.
“Sure,” he responded in his fake-polite, pathetic voice. I wondered what else he was good at other than sucking up to superiors. A few moments later, Emilia and I reached my office. It was in the corner.
“Please have a seat,” I offered pleasantly. I sat behind my desk and started talking with a big smile on my face. “Emilia, I would like to thank you very much for making time to come for this interview.” I paused to let it sink in. I noticed that she had taken a sip of the latte macchiato that Friedrich had placed in front of her. A small bit of the froth stuck on her upper lip. She used the palm of her hands to rub it off. An awkward gesture. She nodded, the taut expression on her face slowly dissolving into a thin smile.
Calling someone you’ve just met by name serves two purposes. First, pretty much everyone likes the sound of their names. The second and more important thing is that it cements your position as the one in control. There is nothing more condescending than using a stranger’s first name.
“Emilia, tell me about yourself,” I said, and stared at her unblinkingly.
She straightened herself and began talking. She talked of her previous job and of other things that didn’t interest me too much. I don’t know how long all that took. I just knew that it was time to up it a notch.
‘‘I don’t know where this is going. Are you aware that we are in the middle of an economic meltdown?’’ I asked in a low tone, a wry smile spreading across my face. I saw confusion spreading across Emilia’s face. I was interviewing her for the position of my project manager, or what other people call an executive assistant. I had been through four project managers since the beginning of the year. No one seemed to have what it took to keep the position for longer than a few months. The last one, a tall, lanky woman who said she had worked for the CEO of a rival company before she came to me, lasted three weeks. On her fourth week she walked into my office and while laughing hysterically bid me good-bye. I still felt traumatized thinking about that scene. “You, girlfriend, are sick!” she had repeated while pointing at me threateningly. We were neither friends nor was I sick, as far as I was concerned. I blinked and my mind flew back to the woman in front of me.
‘‘Yes,’’ Emilia responded timidly.
“Then show me that you want this job!” I hissed, and exhaled dramatically to stress the fact that her performance up to that point had been found wanting.
‘‘I really want this job,’’ she said with just a hint of desperation. ‘‘I need this job,’’ she continued in a quavering voice. I pretended not to notice. I retrieved my lipstick and applied it generously. Satisfied, I looked her in the eye and saw that she held my gaze. I knew instinctively that she had learned it from somewhere. Maybe some know-it-all management consultant had told her that it was important to keep eye contact. Especially if one was interviewing with a German company.
Turning to face her, I asked in a voice that feigned cheerfulness, “I see that you are from Lithuania?”
‘‘Yes,’’ she answered. Her voice sounded forceful and energetic. She was determined to prove her worthiness.
‘‘You look Asian—Indian?’’ I queried in a voice that was somewhere between friendly and hostile. I didn’t know what my intention was. I just knew that it was important to keep the initiative. To keep people on the defensive. That tactic had so far worked like a charm in my career.
I saw her blush. “We are currently a part of the EU so I am allowed to work in Germany. I am European…”
I cut her off. “My team is an international team. It is very important for me to have a team that reflects the global clientele that we currently serve.” I said this calmly while clasping my hands together to feign conviction. I had learned all that from a headhunter who specialized in hiring professional managers. He was a bully of the worst kind.
She sat upright, and I could see her smiling to herself. It was an inward smile, but I recognized it all the same. She was probably thanking her stars. Today was her lucky day.