I am the first born in a family of six. I scored a C plain in my KCSE back in 2010. I moved in with a rich relative who promised to get me a job. Since their house help ran away, they asked me to step into her shoes as they sort out it out.
These relatives were very wealthy but constantly quarreling. They would go out most nights leaving me all alone to take care of twins who were only a few months old, a four-year-old and six-years-old kid. They would come back home in the morning drunk and stinking. They would spend the entire day sleeping and puking all over.
After several weeks of working as their maid without pay or any sign of them getting me a job we quarreled. I angrily packed my stuff and went home. My parents didn’t receive me well. They felt I had lost a lifetime opportunity to change our family’s fortunes. For days my parents and I were not in talking terms.
I started hustling for a job. I was lucky to get a job as a waitress at a nightclub. I learned everything from scratch. When my parents saw my determination, my father took me to college. I still consider it a miracle.
I studied on part-time basis so I would work all night then struggle to stay awake during the day. At times I would doze off in class and my classmates would make fun of me. But I survived and graduated with a Diploma in food and beverage management.
The photo of me in my graduation gown is the first thing you see when you enter my parents living room. It always reminds me that my dreams are valid.
Soon I was able to support our family and so they regained hope. I could now afford nice clothes, shoes, shopping and three meals a day. Everyone else thought I was happy but I wasn’t.
Working as a waitress at a nightclub is tough. You have to take in verbal, physical and emotional abuse. A male colleague would make sexual advances at you. If you refuse they hurl insults at you but who do you report to when you are getting the same treatment from managers, supervisors, waiters, bouncers and even cleaners?
Prostitutes are highly valued at the club since they bring in men who spend money. They are arrogant towards all waitresses. You have to be very careful when talking to a male customer while taking an order otherwise the prostitute would be on your neck. Management always supports them.
Male customers spank us, some even try to finger us when we are wearing mini-skirts or mini dresses. If you report to the manager she tells you on your face your job is to entertain customers so long as you don’t f**k them at the club.
Coming from a religious family, it was very tough and there was no way I could quit work because I was the sole provider in the family and even helping clear the loans they took to educate us.
Getting a job at a five-star hotel after graduation was a dream come true. To my surprise, the prestigious hotels pay very little compared to the clubs yet the workload is intense.
At times we would have functions catering for more than 500 guests and my friend, the preparation alone is enough to kill you! Imagine cleaning 500 glasses, dinner plates, side plates, soup bowls, cutleries, serving the guests, clearing the mess and still set the place for the next meal or next function Heh!
I used to earn 12k and there were no tips at all. The hotel restricted their guests not to give out tips and it was all over on notice boards. A few customers would hide to give us tips at the washrooms or otherwise fold them on serviettes or napkins.
There was also no service charge despite their overpriced food items and drinks and overrated taxes imposed on guests.
I couldn’t take care of my family on Ksh 12,000 per month and so I moved back to the night club where on a good night I can go home with up to 5.000 bob. An average waitress at a good night club earns Ksh 15-18k, if you include tips, one ends up pocketing at least Ksh 40k every month.
As revelers come to spend their cash, some of us are here to invest and invest in abundance. This is true because I still support my family, educating a younger sibling.
Working at a nightclub humbles you and toughens you in equal measures. You serve a guest who has so much money yet they still respect you for who you are. They don’t throw cash on the floor for you to pick, no no. They tip you good money and appreciate your service. They understand slow service when the club is fully-packed and don’t mind sharing tables. Some of them wish you the best and hope you get a better job.
However, the broke fellas who only buy two beers the entire night give you hell. They throw a 50 bob tip and run to the manager when you delay just a little. They call you names and remind you that they’re spending their cash.
I have survived over these years and not once have I thought of getting a sponsor so I don’t understand girls who do such things.
Ever since I was a kid I wanted to work in media so I enrolled for a diploma in journalism in 2015. I will be graduating in October this year. I was lucky to have my internship at KBC. I swear it was a great working and learning experience compared to what spreads around about the filth in media.
My success in media is a story yet to be told. Still wondering it’s far from reality or just a perception. Nevertheless, no matter how tough it turns out to be I won’t give up or give in until I make it.
PS: #PerceptionVsReality is an online campaign that seeks unveil the truth behind seemingly prestigious careers, highlight the plight of top Kenyan graduates, and showcase the positive stories. The purpose of this series is to prepare students for life after campus, candidly share the challenges young professionals are facing in the corporate world and pick life lessons from those who found a way to thrive having surmounted great tribulations.
To take part in the initiative email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions will be published anonymously to protect the identities of the participants. Follow the series on Facebook www.facebook.com/MarkMaishCom