The Rat Race

Embed from Getty Images


So I’m sitting here filing my tax returns. Which is the adult equivalent of your mother knowing you ate the sugar but she want’s you to admit that you did. It’s just not as sweet doing it. I mean, we don’t even pay tax, the government takes it. Whatever hits my bank account is less the said tax I should be paying. Then the government asks you to confirm that you ‘paid’ this tax. The nerve.

Anyway, I’m filing my taxes and I think to myself how tired I am and it’s just Monday. I’m preparing for a long day of writing reports, refraining from telling people how to do their job, reading emails and occasionally minimizing the window to do what I was actually doing – watching YouTube videos.No, I’m not distracted from my work, I’m on a break. Which is what I tell myself. Besides, I’m watching a guy eat 15 burgers in 30 minutes. Fascinating. And he gets paid too. How bizarre.

My boss shows up and I have to quickly close the YouTube tab and quickly put up an excel sheet on the screen. I’m working on those report statistics for the month. He’s back from leave and so my freedom has now been curtailed.

Thanks for holding fort while I was away. You know that executives meeting that’s happening today? I need you to present my piece for me. I need to catch up with my emails.

Say what!? But you said you’d be back in time to attend it. Thanks for the four hour heads up. That’s what I thought, but what came out of my mouth was,

Sure. No problem. I’d love to.

Then I started to panic. Present to the executives? Including the C.E.O? This guy is not serious. I was not even wearing my lucky boxers. I actually had the Jik stained ones. The one’s you don’t wear if you have hopes of getting laid. The kind you don’t wear during a Cord protest, lest the cops hoist you by the trouser waist, giving you a glorious wedgie and now everyone on social media is talking about your discolored inners instead of why ‘baba’ wasn’t even at the protest. In all that I thought to myself, why did I lie during the interview.

My strengths? Well, I work  well under pressure. I’m willing to take on challenging tasks and I’m willing to learn on the job.

They probably caught my bullshit at the interview, but they needed cheap labour and I was desperate and my CV showed that at least I could read and write. A monkey could do my job, but it didn’t have a degree. Lucky me. Poor Harambe.

So here I am now trying to get all the facts of the presentation together, meanwhile my tummy is in knots and I have this overwhelming urge to pass gas. Is it just me who feels like passing gas when nervous? All the time. High school final exams, University application, first kiss, job interviews, driving test, first run in with the police, marriage proposal, meeting the father in law. I could go on and on. Significant moments in my life seem to be underpinned by flatulence. For real. It’s not just hot air. Hehe.

Moving on, a two hour meeting with the executives is what I had ahead of me. Discussions on low hanging fruits, and synergies. I’ll have to cleverly answer questions without answering them. Corporate meetings are all about pretending to be the cleverest in the room. You nod, take notes and ask questions. They don’t have to be intelligent questions either. Just look intelligent.

Something like, I see what you’re saying and agree fully with your approach, but is it scalable?

The guy will be probably respond with something equally obnoxious.

It’s sort of a chicken and egg situation but we want to get a feel of the product and address the current pitfalls of our offering. For now we’ll just go for a vanilla product and then we can add all the bells and whistles as we go along.

Then you shall nod pretending to understand what the presenter just said and add,

Totally understood. I guess we can take this offline to discuss the details.

And you’ll look smart. And everyone else in the room will be too embarrassed to ask a question because it seems it’s only you and the presenter who seem to know what’s going on. Yet, all of you are clueless.

Anyway, I head for my meeting eventually. Having given myself a pep talk and watched a couple of motivational YouTube videos telling me I can achieve anything I want in this world, and that the sky is not the limit. I head early to the imposing board room so that I can get accustomed to the room before the executives come in. I look for a non conspicuous position at the end of the large, mahogany table. I feel so out of place on the leather seat. Like a toddler on a couch, I’m engulfed by it.

Then the executives walk in one by one. Ipads in hand, an air of seriousness around them (and cologne). In Italian shirts complete with personalized cuff links. I feel even smaller. There’s small talk between a couple of the executives before the meeting starts.

How was Prague?

It was lovely. Excellent weather. I even managed to squeeze in a round of golf at the Albatross.

They laugh richly.  I sip water from my plastic dispenser cup and google Prague.

The meeting begins and different teams proceed with their presentations. It’s filled with moments of clueless people, talking about abstract concepts all the while staring at the Powerpoint slides projected on the wall. No eye contact, probably because they’re all faking it. I shall fit right in here it seems.

Then comes my turn and I do the same.

Good morning all.

Good afternoon to you. They respond.

I give myself a scolding. It’s afternoon you nincompoop. You’ve already ruined it. Now try remember your points. And make eye contact. You’ll probably impress the hell out of these executives and they may even say hello to you in the lift next time.

I try to make eye contact with everyone in the room. But it makes me dizzy. I have to sip water, but my cup is empty. I put it aside and stumble through my presentation trying to sound important and use important-sounding words like ‘synergy’ and ‘proactive measures’ and ‘cognisant’. I probably used some of them incorrectly, but there were no questions once I was done. Meaning I either made sense or no one understood what I’d presented and couldn’t care to ask. I suppose it was the latter.

Two hours and an eternity later the meeting ended. As all corporate meetings, I had no idea what the outcome was but I guess that would be for the next meeting to sort out. I headed back to my desk, to finish up my tax returns. I was dog tired for some reason, but couldn’t explain it. Pretending at meetings clearly took it’s toll on me. I wish I was a farmer, at least I’d be tired from ploughing an acre of land.

I opened up the iTax page, then switched to you tube. A new upload from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. I guess I’ll watch that. Taxes, like death, will come anyway.








Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s