To Port Elizabeth and back

[note: The following actually happened more than a week ago, I didn’t want to mention it then  until I knew my fate]

about five months ago, while I was wasting most of my time and energy being angry at the situation I found myself in, I logged into my student e-mail inbox. Since I spent most of my time in front of the computer, pretending to be busy, I usually checked all five of my inbox each morning, hoping that something might come and miraculously whisk me away from that torturous place I was in. Anyhoo, the career service centre at our institution usually bulk mails all job posts, internships and graduate development programmes to it’s students. I had already made up my mind that when my contract expired, I’ll get the hell out of there faster than Usain Bolt of steroids. Most of the posts that were being sent to me were irrelevant so when I checked my inbox, I didn’t expect anything major. To cut a long story short, A graduate development programme presented itself to me and I applied. Two months later when I had already forgotten about it, the people there called and asked me to fax them my academic transcript, I did and waited and waited for their call but they didn’t call. About a month later, while I was attending that Materials handling conference, they called and asked me to come for an interview. I went for that interview and it went fairly well. A week later I was asked to come write a psychometric test. Three weeks ago I got a call from them telling me that I did well on the test and I must now fly down to Port Elizabeth for final interviews.

I wanted to scream but I was in a public place, I was actually at the library, it was bad enough I was talking on my phone had I screamed someone would have surely snitched on me and I would have been taken to  the disciplinary committee for breaking the rules. The UJ DC ain’t nothing to fux with. I remained calm, got all the necessary details. A day later my  electronic flight ticket was mailed to me. I was excited not only because I was one step away from joining a comprehensive graduate programme that would have afforded me the opportunity to go to Europe for two weeks but also because this would be my first time on an airplane. I was nervous the day before, I didn’t know exactly what to pack and what exactly goes on when you fly. I called a friend of mine  to drive me to the  Airport, they agreed to drive to drive me there and that dumb meat hat almost made me miss my flight. We got lost twice and I literally arrived 15 minutes before my plane departed. I got in and I recognized a girl I wrote the Psychometric tests with and we sat  next to each other on the plane, everybody could tell  that it was my first time flying, I think the fact that I was taking photos was a dead give-away.  Me and the girl chatted and we both didn’t know what will occur the next day, we weren’t told anything, we were just told that they’ll be interviews the next day, we spoke for about fifteen minutes ’til she pulled out a textbook, she was writing a test a day after the interviews! Thankfully I had bought a book I was reading at the time, You must set forth at dawn by Wole Soyinka, a book  I recommend everybody to read by the way. When we reached Port Elizabeth, the pilot (?) announced that we are 10 minutes away from landing, I heard people behind me mentioning the ocean and I got excited because I hadn’t seen the ocean before, Olwethu, the girl sitting next to me had the seat by the window, she noticed that I was trying to look outside the window and she kindly switched seats with me. The aerial view was breath taking, I saw the ocean for the first time, my limited vocabulary can’t possibly describe the joy and peace and felt when I was the waves, the white sand and what looked like Dolphins from afar. We landed and  the guy sitting in front of us, a goofy and comical fellow, Albert introduced himself to us, he had been evesdropping on a conversation Olwethu and I were having. He picked up that we both were going for our final interviews, we got of the plane and the first thing that came out of our mouths was “bloody fuck, PE is chilly and us joburgers forgot to  pack our jerseys” we met up with another guy,  Sagar and we waited for our lift to come pick us up. After waiting 10 minutes and the cold our lift finally arrived. While on our way to the hotel, I caught a view of the  ocean again, this time it was close range and again this euphoric feeling descended upon me, I wanted to get off the car and enjoy the view . We got to our hotel, which was a walking distance from the beach, we met up with more potential graduate  recruits, i don’t remember half their names unfortunately. We spoke amongst ourselves and it was decided that at about 8PM we’d go to a restaurant/sports bar not far away from the hotel. We went there, ate, had a couple of drinks and we went to a hotel. I took a detour to Hobie Beach, which was deserted.  I stared at the waves for a long time, contemplating whether to give way to my whimsical self , strip naked and jump in, thankfully I decided against that, I would have surely drown had I been dumb enough to swim when the Ocean was  that violent. Went back to my room and slept.

We were told that by quarter to seven we must  cause at about five to seven we’ll be picked up. I woke up two hours before that, wanted to sea the ocean once again. I showered and realized that in my excitement over the thought of flying for the first time, I’d forgotten to pack toothpaste, I brushed my teeth with bar soap and it wasn’t that bad.  I got dressed and headed for Hobie beach again, bought a few breath mints at the petrol station, just to make sure. It was sunrise and sat and watched the sun slowly ascend. Again I wanted to strip down and jump in the Ocean, just  so I can know how it feel to swim in it. I didn’t though and I really regret not doing it.

The butterflies in my tummy were having a siesta, I was very nervous, I tried enjoying the sunrise but all I could think about was the interview. What the hell is up with all these interviews, wasn’t one enough? I concentrated on the view and tried to not think about it. Didn’t really work. I kept thinking and thinking, I wondered what question will they ask us? what do they have in store for us? why kind of interview lasts the whole day?

I realized that worrying about it isn’t helping the situation. I stopped worrying, if only for a minute and enjoyed the feel of the ocean breeze on my skin.

Mind went back to the interview again, I kept telling myself, I want this, I want to be part of this Graduate development programme, I want this so bad. I was psyched up and ready for it, a fire within me  awoken and  the ocean kept fanning the flame, I was ready now, I kept told myself, whoever was gonna interview me better bring it. But was I really ready? I hadn’t really prepared, didn’t really  know how to but it didn’t really matter though, I’ve been to  so many interviews that I  doubt that  I could be asked a question that could throw me off balance. I went back to the hotel, packed my shit and had breakfast. Our lift came and they took us to the plant “where we were about to be grilled” he joked. We arrived and there were more people. They explained what was about to happen. Divided us into groups and the selection process commenced. Our group had interviews first and I did fairely well, although the questions were a bit tricky. After interviews our group went on some sort of tour, I cannot divulge much ’cause describing the tour would reveal the name of the company etc. After the tour we had lunch and after lunch it was time, the terror began. Group discussions/assessments goes into my list of things I’d rather get tortured by Sani Abacha than do. We were presented a case study and asked to present ways we could solve the problems presented to us after that we had to “pretend like we weren’t being watched” and discuss amongst ourselves which ideas were worth a shit and which weren’t. I don’t know what happened, I kinda froze. My performance was bad, I could tell that it was, I had the same feeling I had when I screwed up my very first interview early last year. I knew I was fucking up and everytime I took a peek at our assessors I could see it in their face that they were kinda disappointed at my performance.  When it was over, I felt relieved and mad at myself for fucking up. Our assessors went to the conference room and had a long meeting discussion which ones will be accepted into the programme.  We sat there and chatted,  waiting for the facilitator/  our lift to  finish he’s meeting and take us to the airport ’cause we were all tired and were eager to go back home.

The meeting finally concluded and we were driven straight to the Airport. On the plane, I tried reading my mind couldn’t let me. I was in one of those state were I would go through pages of a book and not remember what I had just read. We had dinner and Airplane food is as shitty as everyone says it is even though the Air hostess made so much noise about how British Airways switched to woolworths food to increase the quality of their meal. Never believe the hypebole, the meal was dry and tasteless.

We landed at O R Tambo Int’l a bit late ’cause our flight was delayed at PE, and had quite a rough landing. It woke me up straight away, The people who were supposed to pick me up at the Airport were late as usual. They finally arrived, I got in the car and we left. This might sound funny but I really hate being asked how the interview went, I don’t know how to answer that question, if I say it went well, I’ll be arrogant ’cause I don’t know how the interviewer perceived my performance, if I said it went terrible, I’ll come across as being overly negative but I digress. I was asked how it went and I honestly told them that it didn’t go very well. We got lost again! they missed an off ramp and the next minute we were on our way to Vereeniging, stopped at a Petrol Station and asked for directions, we heeded the petrol attendants’ direction ’til we saw a board directing us to Lenasia. We off ramped and took the another route, which turned out to be a bad decision ’cause it led us to a dark and deserted gravel road. The trip was rough, we scared that someone was gonna jump out of the woods on the side of the roads and hijack us. lol. After driving for about an hour on that Gravel road and finally we reached the Golden highway. We arrived home two hours later. A trip that was supposed to take us just about an hour took us four hours! When I got home I went straight to bed.

Like I said on the beginning of this unnecessarily long post, I didn’t want to write this until I knew my fate. I was supposed to be called sometime earlier this week, the week is practically over so I can safely assume that I didn’t get it. I wasn’t accepted into their graduate development programme. I don’t wanna lie, I am somewhat disappointed, this was another great opportunity that I missed but I’m not gonna beat myself over it though. Truth of the matter is that out of the tens of thousand that applied for the position I was considered, I made it to the last 66, I might not have made it to the 30 that were selected to the programme but I got a first time experience out of the whole thing, I flew for the first time and I got to see the ocean for the first time, I didn’t even have to pay anything (in case you haven’t notice, I’m one niggadly individual.lol) Other opportunities will present themselves.

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