BY MIKE MUTHAKA
Most days I’m in the office by 7 a.m. Old Man drops me off then I climb a flight of stairs up to a small desk where a watchman runs a scanner over my tired, bent-out-of-shape body. And then comes a solo elevator trip to the ninth floor. When I sit at my desk, I cease to be Mike the vodka-marinated columnist and I become Mike the copywriter who spends his time swinging on a chair and crafting cheesy one-liners about shampoo and Bluetooth speakers.
You know what I think when I’m having breakfast every morning? Or when I stagger into the house with a sore spine at bloody 9 p.m. via tuk-tuk? I think this is slavery. I think I should quit and take my chances as a freelancer. And maybe one day I will.
But then I also think how fun it can get, working here.
Mostly because of the people.
Noel. Graphic Designer. Tall. Creative. Has quite a mouth on him, which he can decide to shoot at any time.
He’s like my tag team partner. I write and he paints.
In a few minutes he’ll walk in with a cup of water and a heavy jacket. Then he’ll regal me with a comical story about the metrics of being a bachelor in Nairobi.
On pay day we crack a bottle of Konyagi to celebrate.
Listen to how Aleya Kassam, the writer, describes Noel…
“(If Noel was a cocktail) he would be called The Noelito. A cocktail that combines a deadly kick with a bubbly effervescence. Best enjoyed at midnight during suicide missions.”
There hasn’t been a better way to put it, really.
Francis. He’s a regular in my Instastories, mostly because it’s easy to pick on him.
Nice chap. Amiable. Catholic. Pressed shirts. Goes to the gym four days a week. Eats healthy. Always the first to suggest we leave the club and go home. If I thought I was a Ted Mosby, I clearly hadn’t met Francis. (I’m sorry, but if you don’t know Ted Mosby by now it’s too late.)
These days Francis is spotting blue-framed specs. He’s filling out, too.
Now he’s charming all the ladies in the office. They all scramble to have a feel of his biceps and laugh at everything he says.
“Oh, you don’t know how to generate that report? Ask Francis.”
“Oh, you can’t log in with those credentials? Go see Francis.”
“Oh, you can’t open up that lunch box? and? You know who can take that thing right off? Yup. You guessed it. Francis.”
Hehe. Do you see how easy it is to pick on the guy?
Wambui. When Wambui laughs, the world laughs too. She has one of those laughs that inject life into a room.
She’s business minded, too. Likes cars. Wears shirts to work. She gets migraines sometimes. At the end of the day, when she’s not busy, you might find her running some math down in a notebook.
She’s in a chama. They have a pumpkin business and plans are under way to buy land in Kajiado.
Every Monday she asks, “Leo hakuna story?”
She means Dusty Rugs. And I have to shake my head and look away in shame.
Njeri. We don’t speak much, Njeri and I. But the best part of my mornings has to be our hello hugs. They’re long and cozy. I bury my head in her hair and she asks how I’m doing. Then she tells me how she’s doing.
I don’t know if I’d get as many cozy hugs as a freelancer.
Joy. Bubbly and fun. Kindest person you ever met. Occasional smoker. Copywriter who, like me, isn’t sure that this is the career direction she wants to take.
She’s the only other person I can hope to find when I get to the office at seven. Sometimes I swing by her desk and we talk about life stuff and we have a hearty chuckle.
If you catch her eating and throw even a momentary glance at her food she’ll ask, “Want some?”
Njeri. My lunch lady at the kibanda. Always keeps the chapos warm.
Follow Mike on Instagram: mikemuthaka