All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney
Altoe Sert Company Limited, within its anti-climb mesh fence, looked huge, alluring, magnificent, above standard, unique, progressive and all.
There it stands!
Right before us!
Looking like the opulence of the entire globe.
Our captivated senses held on it as we approached, never to let go.
We must stay focused. No looking back. No distractions. No diversions. We must belong here as part and parcel of Altoe Sert.
We walked to the nearest gate with GATE1 written on it and waited to be let in. The surveillance camera kept staring at us. Our worth must be exposed to its scrutiny.
After a couple of minutes, I flipped the bell switch again. A man’s voice boomed through the speaker we never knew existed below the camera and our eyes rushed to it.
‘Good Morning young men, what can we do for you?’
“Good morning sir! We’re here for jobs sir,” I replied boldly and watched Ikedi nod in affirmation.
“What are your names?”
“Obinna J. Obinna sir”
” Ikedi James sir.”
“Here on the invitation?”
He paused for a moment and looked at our heads thoughtfully.
“Well, presently, there are no job openings in our company.”
“Sir please open the gate. We need to drop our resume with the HR department.”
“Sorry, that’s not how it’s done here. Job applications are online. Visit our website to apply under career.” With that, the speaker went dead.
We lingered at the gate for a while before seeking shade.
A lady walked by where we sat waiting for nothing. Going by her appearance, she worked at Altoe Sert. I walked to her before she reached the gate, and my friend, Ikedi followed.
“Hello please, spare us a minute.
“I want to find out something from you, please. You work at Altoe Sert, right?”
“Yes. Yes” she nodded proudly.
“Please we’re job seekers, and we’re interested in your company. How do we go about getting a job?”
“Online application only. You’ll have to apply online. Employment here follow a strict procedure.”
“Okay. What are the expectations?”
“If your application scales through you’ll be contacted for the first stage of interview – online test. If you pass, there wll be a second stage – oral interview. This is followed by practical tests, then personality checks, before six months probation. If you’re lucky at the end, you’ll be fully employed with good pay and pleasing working condition.”
“That’s scrutiny,” Ikedi said as he jotted down some points about stages of the interview.
“Well, Altoe Sert is like the apex of electrical companies in Lagos, well sort after nationwide and recognised worldwide as among the best. To maintain its standard, the company is careful about choosing its workers. Altoe Sert must keep up not down and what keeps it up? The quality product and services it renders to its customers worldwide.” she said and frowned at her wristwatch.
“How often does employment take place here?” I asked as if I didn’t hear the praise she sang.
“The company is expanding at a rocket speed and there’s an enormous need for more workers. That notwithstanding, getting a job here can be very very difficult because the employees come from all over the world. As you know, this is a foregn establishment – foreign investors are likely to be from Japan, UK and US.” Do you know with my master’s degree in Electrical design, it took me five years and a half to get in there? I threw a party after.” she giggled.
“You should. Why not?” I said and wished. I didn’t like listening to a pessimist. She shouldnt be an angel of doom, sent to dash our hopes and expectations. If we should listen to her, we would lose hope of ever getting a job in life. I didn’t really blame her, It’s because she didn’t know me. I was a die-hard job seeker and for the company before us, my zeal would make the unexpected happen.
“The thing is, it’s not just qualification that gets you there. You must be good at what you do and must be fast, smart thinker, ready to learn, learn and learn and then teach teach and teach fresh employees,” she said.
“That’s not a problem. We’re right for the job.” she studied me and smiled and I wondered what was going on in her mind.
“Oh! Break time is over. Sorry, I have to go now. All the best to you both.”
“Do you know someone who knows someone who could help us get in there?”
She laughed heartily and we joined her.
‘You’re such a joke! That company you’re seeing doesn’t work that way. If it did, the whole of this nation could have probably been among its employees.
“Thanks for your patience. What’s your name?
We shook hands and smiled together.
“May I have your contact, please.”
She opened her purse and brought out her card. It read;
Mercy Ibietan, Electrical design department, Altoe Sert Company Limited. Contact...
I glanced at it, with the thought of what format to give mine before handing it over to Ikedi
All she said about the difficulty in securing a job there could be true but the truth should not be an obstacle.
My destiny should not be likened to that of another loser somewhere. I’m not a failure. So we shouldn’t be cast down and away. In fact, our hopes must be stronger.
“Ikedi, we’re coming back here tomorrow, very early before the workers.”
“To do what again?”
To show our faces to the Recruitment Officer.”
“How on earth are you going to enter there?”
“En route Mercy.”
I think she’s right. You’re such a joke.”
“I know. first thing before coming back, we must go online and make our submissions.”
“Look, my friend, online application is a farce in this part of the world. How many people do you know who got their jobs through it?”
“Hundreds of people get jobs every day online. Don’t believe fake news about online job seekers being time wasters.”
“The truth is, online takes time, weeks, months or years to get noticed. I’m sure it works for Altoe Sert but I’m not casting all my eggs in one basket. I’m going to try many methods. A desperate desire requires desperate measures. I’m determined to break the protocols and go ahead to meet Officer in charge of recruitment. I want to penetrate into this company as soon as possible.”
Ikedi had since stopped talking as we went home by Keke Napep. He looked dead in his sleep.
The next day, I dragged Ikedi out of his father’s two storey building and nagged him for idling around. He told me he wished his old man would fix him in his business. The man had told him to go into the world and bear good fruit.
He regretted having him as a father.
“Your father is wise you know. He wants you to stand on a solid ground on your bare feet and feel the sand and every other thing under there. He’s training you to be independent. It’s for your good.”
“Forget that. I’m his only son. Who is he making his money for if not me?”
“Well….” Then I saw Mercy coming!
I nudged Ikedi’s side and we braced ourselves, read to make use of the opportunity as planned. Her right shoulder was laden with her laptop. I ran to help her but she hurried away as if she had not set eyes on us before.
We hurried after her. At the gate, she stood before the camera and waited. We were right behind her and we were going to enter with her — as her friends.
“Mercy!” I whispered and she didn’t even act as if someone was there with her.
Remember us? Yesterday? During break? Remember?
A sensor light under the camera came on and the pedestrian gate opened. Mercy entered and as we were about to enter, the security alarm came on.
It was loud enough to alert the community around us. We kept cool and kept walking behind her. Then saw them! Mote than ten armed security officers of different sizes and colours!
“Is this a bank?” I asked myself because Ifedi was already out of the gate. I thought he was as daring as I was.
I was caught and detained – inside Alto Sert.
To be continued..