Friday, the Yayteenth!

By Khulekani

Everything about the morning was gloomy. Contrary to what the weather forecast had predicted, heavy clouds blanketed the skies and an unusual stillness clutched the atmosphere. The birds seemed to have gone silent and creation bowed down to an unsolicited murkiness. Richard held on tightly to his briefcase and took a deep breath before walking away from the doorstep.

“Best wishes daddy”, his daughter’s voice echoed from behind him and he turned to give a wave and a smile that struggled to mask his nervousness.

Richard’s heart burnt with the zeal to give his wife and daughter a good life but the odds had not been in his favour. He had scooped several academic awards and graduated top of his class but three years down the line, he still had no stable job. The first few weeks after graduation had been hopeful; he had been invited to several interviews but as the trend remained on the negative side, everything slowly began to turn sour. His wife had become impatient and was constantly on his case. She was tired of selling vegetables to sustain the family and renting a house together with three other families was not the life she had signed up for. Each day they were fighting and he had begun to hate his life. Through the tears and bad days, he still loved her and wanted to make her proud. When his hope was running short, Richard had been called in by Edgars for a job interview.

At the bus stop, Richard tapped his foot impatiently and glanced at his watch each second. He had left home three hours ahead of the interview time but after half an hour, he was still standing by the roadside trying to flag down a lift. He watched as the clouds became heavier and collided with each other creating chaos in the sky. A noticeable turbulence developed in the air and progressively strengthening winds swept the plane carrying with them dust and sand particles that landed on his glass shoes and borrowed suit. The first cold drop that landed on his wrist raised his alarm and Richard crossed his fingers. He knew if he did not get transport soon, his day would be ruined. The drop was soon followed by another and then another accompanied by another.

“Damnit”, Richard cursed as what had begun as drops turned into a heavy down pour. There was no shelter close by and so he was stuck in the rain. He held his briefcase tightly to his chest to try and keep it dry. All his certificates and important documents sat neatly in the case and he risked losing them. In minutes, the rain explored the entirety of his body and he shook in the cold. As if to mock him, the showers soon came to an abrupt cessation and in no time, rays of sunshine graced spot with a sweet warmth.

Time had not been waiting for him and Richard soon realised that walking to town would have been a good idea. Maybe somewhere down the road, he would have a better shot at getting transport. By now he looked like a homeless man in his drenched suit and he doubted any company would trust such a shabby man with their accounts. For his wife and daughter however, he still had to try. He clutched his briefcase and walked along as the mud pulled heavily on his feet.

A white object in the distance caught his attention and as he got closer, Richard realised it was an Isuzu pick-up truck stuck in the mud. “Mind your own business”, he tried to warn himself but his heart ached as he looked at the helpless driver, a greying man in an oversized shirt. He glanced at his watch again and realised he had only an hour left to get to town.

“Can I help sir?” he still offered his services even though his common sense mocked him for the naivety. The old man’s face lit up.

“Yes. Yes, my son”

“I will push the car as you drive”, Richard said as he placed his briefcase on the grass by the road side.

He had hoped to quickly help the old man and be on his way but pushing the car on his own was just but wishful thinking. He gathered his strength and pushed on still to no avail. Richard was not about to give up but the lack of friction beneath his feet eventually sent him sliding and landing with his white shirt in the mud giving it an instant brown tint. It was at that point that he remembered it was Friday the thirteenth, a day he had always believed was cursed. It was a cursed day, he was cursed. No good would come out of this day. Wrapped in the darkest thoughts, Richard picked himself up and two other men who were passing by came to the rescue. The car was soon out of the mud.

Thank you very much. Get in son. I will drop you in town”, the old man made the invitation that made Richard’s heart leap a bit but the happiness soon died down as he noticed he was already running late. He felt uneasy about messing up the interior of the car but the old man had insisted that he sat in front so they could chat.

The ride was strangely highlighted by silence. The old man had tried to bring up topics for conversation but all he got were one word answers. He knew something was eating up his passenger and he waited for the right moment to ask. “If you don’t mind me asking, where exactly are you going? You seem very nervous”, he popped the question.

“Job interview.” As soon as he uttered those words, a new thought invaded Richard’s mind. His briefcase! The briefcase! He recalled how he had placed it by the road side and he shook with agitation. He wished to slap himself and his stomach burnt with regret. The interview invitation had clearly stated that his certificates were a requirement for consideration for the post. How could he have forgotten the one thing that would potentially open up doors for him.

“I forgot my briefcase”, he said with a voice that had lost all hope. He was too close to his destination to go back and to make matters worse, he was already behind time.

“Tell me why this job means so much to you”, the old man asked.

At this point emotions had taken over and Richard threw away all the paragraphs he had crammed over the years to please employers. he poured out his heart so vulnerably. Accounting meant more than just a profession to him, it was his heart, his life. He had committed his entire life to being the best and yet still, that was not enough. This job interview was an opportunity for him to prove that he was more than the world saw, that he was indeed highly skilled and capable of taking the company to the top but as it stood, he had messed up once again. He narrated with tears peeping over his eyes how he would have cherished the job had he gotten the chance to prove himself.

“Best wishes son. If it were up to me, you would get the job. You deserve it”, the old man finally said as Richard walked away with zero hope left in him.

As he walked into the building, everyone stared with degrading eyes at his unkempt look. Regardless her efforts to hide too, he could tell the receptionist too thought he was perhaps lost. “You are very late sir. You are lucky our interviewer was delayed”, she finally said after verifying his details. He was directed to the waiting room and he sat on the bench with his back curled up as the worst of thoughts replicated in his mind. He looked on as the other interviewees watched him narrowly from their expensive suits and brand new shoes. He could not wait for his turn to face the interviewer just so this cursed day would end.

His name was finally called out and he stood up nolonger nervous.He had messed up his chance at the job and his wife would eat him.

When he got into the interview room he saw a face smiling back at him.” So we meet again,” said the old man he had helped earlier smiling back at him. “I guess today is your lucky day,” he said. At that moment hope filled Richard’s mind. The day was not cursed after all. Perhaps this would turn into Friday the yayteeth!

11 May, 2023