The life of a broke man is not one to be envied. It is full of trials and tribulations, which can only be understood by readers of the book of Job in the Bible. Nothing ever works. When you are broke, the simplest plans never succeed, the easiest tasks turn out to be a real mess and you are generally unlucky with everything.
An example of such bad luck and disastrous planning happened in my early youth, just after leaving university, when I received an invitation to attend a job interview. It was a promising job in that I was the only candidate invited for the interview and the pay was out of this world. All I had to do was show up and pass the interview.
I summoned my girlfriend for a celebratory lunch of two packets of chips, vinegar and salt at McFries, all for 100 shillings. The poor girl was genuinely happy for me. She had been through a lot with my bad luck and yet she saw something in me which even I did not see.
Her words of encouragement and affection moved me and so in a moment of thoughtlessness, I promised that I would take her to a Java restaurant immediately after my interview and treat her to something called a banana split, which I had been told by a friend was something quite magnificent.
From my friend’s explanation, three hundred and twenty shillings would do the trick in Java, assuming she didn’t fall to the temptation of anything else in the menu. All I needed was one month or so to save the amount required for the both of us.
The double dose of good news staggered her but she quickly recovered her composure and had the presence of mind to reward my generous intent with a nice warm hug and a kiss on the cheek.
The day of the interview came and I put on my best clothes which comprised of a shirt, a pair of trousers and shoes, all of which had been bought by my girlfriend over the years as gifts. My bike, a 125cc symbol of humility and poverty (which wasn’t bought by my girlfriend), was washed and stood outside waiting to take me to the interview. I said a small prayer and got onto the bike confident that at the end of the ride I would be a changed man with better fortunes.
All through the ride, I felt that the trousers, which I didn’t wear often, were uncomfortable and a little too tight around the thighs and crotch. I told myself it was the modern way of dressing to wear clothes which were a little tight around the crotch, all the successful people seemed to do it and I was about to become one.
I arrived 10 minutes early and thought this to be a good thing. As I alighted from the bike, I heard a loud sound resembling that of a large bed sheet being torn. I looked behind me to check if I could see the strange person tearing bed sheets in an office parking lot but there was no one. I must have heard my own things.
I removed by bike jacket and proceeded to tuck in my shirt properly and neaten myself when I felt a small tear on my trousers just below the belt at the back. I felt the tear some more and was surprised to discover that it extended a little further down. I looked down in bewilderment and saw that the tear was a lot worse than I had imagined! It started from the belt area around my bottom and followed the stitching all the way beyond the zip and button at the front all the way to the belt buckle. It was the worst trouser split I had ever seen, a terrible, vengeful trouser split that didn’t spare me even a little dignity.
I stood there for a while, confused and feeling a light wind blowing through my loins. I considered many things, like tying a jacket around my waist and walking into the interview and in the end decided that I would go to a supermarket to buy a new pair trousers with the only money I had and be late for the interview. I thought it to be the best solution.
At the supermarket door the watchman insisted that I put in storage the bag which I held in front of me. He also wanted me to remove the jacket I’d tied around my waist and to spread my arms and legs wide so that he would scan me properly, but I resisted.
Seeing that he wasn’t going to let me in, I let down the bag and jacket and the two watchmen at the entrance saw for themselves the lay of the land under my trousers. They looked at me in embarrassment and waved me inside the supermarket, it was all that could be said in a civilized world.
I sneaked in, picked a new pair of trousers and wore it in the changing rooms. I plucked out the price tag and took it to the cashier. The cashier refused to accept my explanation that the trouser I was wearing was indeed the one I had just bought and so we had to call the watchman at the door to give an eyewitness account of the state of my original pair of trousers. Someone was sent to fetch that original pair, which I’d discarded in the changing rooms, as an exhibit and the cashier, together with the manager, grudgingly accepted my explanation.
I made it back to the interview venue half an hour later and was informed that they’d waited for me and disbanded so there would be no interview for me and the job offer withdrawn.
I rode back to the house depressed. I had lost an opportunity to a split trouser and to compound the problem I was not going to buy my girlfriend a banana split because I had spent all the money I had saved buying a new pair of trousers.