In 2018, I was a writer on iwriter, a marketplace for freelance writers. I had risen up the ranks and was earning almost $0.02 per word. My monthly earnings averaged Ksh30,000 to Ksh50,000.
This was enough for my bills but I never thought of stashing some in an emergency fund or investing in a side hustle.
Something I later regretted.
Out of the blue, iwriter banned Kenyan writers. My income stream was suddenly shut. I wished I had an alternative income source.
“What if I was working on other platforms?” What if I had a side hustle?’’ I asked myself.
Attempts to land writing jobs on other sites such as Upwork, Guru, and Freelancer bore no fruits.
My bills started piling up. I contemplated moving back to my parent's house.
Luckily, I received a call from a relative who lived in Coast asking if I was available for a job.
Sigh! I had received a new lease on life.
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I thought I wouldn’t be needing my laptop and sold it to a friend. In two days' time, I was in Mombasa though I didn’t know the job details clearly. All that mattered was that my tall relative had something for me.
Save for the heat, everything was fine when I landed.
So, this tall relative of mine was a supervisor at an EPZ company and had ‘organized’ for me a clerical job. My main job was to record hourly productions for four sewing lines assigned to me and enter this into the company’s system.
Here’s how it worked. Each line was assigned a target. Say, produce 1600 t-shirts in 8 hours. This means 200 t-shirts every hour.
But this was not always possible. Sometimes, the machines broke down, the sewers were just slow or needed to work on some repairs first. Regardless of whatever excuse, your line had to meet your daily target before being allowed to leave.
On many occasions, I left work at 8.00 or 9.00 PM and was getting frustrated about it. The overtime payment that came for staying this late wasn't something to smile about. It was less than Ksh100 per hour. In short, the job wasn’t fulfilling.
Three months into my new frustrating job, a neighbor asked me why I was always late. On explaining to him, he was so sympathetic that he offered me a job at his place. He worked at a transport company and seemed influential so I believed him.
Immediately after I receive my salo, I quit. Informing only one colleague. Not even my tall relative.
The next day, I called my neighbor to inquire when I’d start. He told me to meet him at a hotel. When we met, he assured me everything was fine and that I had the job.
Before we parted ways, he asked me for a ‘soft loan’. “Niazime elfu tano kuna tatizo kidogo nyumbani, ntakurejeshea tukiwa kazini”
Now, this guy knew I had just earned. I didn’t have any excuses or reasons to deny him. Plus, he was offering me a “fulfilling job”. So without thinking twice about it I gladly gave him the Ksh5k.
We agreed to meet the next Monday at his place of work. “Just ask for Alex at the gate,” he told me.
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On Monday at 7.00 am, I was at the gate ‘Hakika Transporters Changamwe.’ I called him but all my call went unanswered. On asking the guards about this Alex guy, they told me that they didn't know him. I returned home disappointed but still hopeful.
But my hopes lasted only a few minutes. I was left mouth agape when I arrived at my ‘new colleagues’ house.
The house was empty!
I later found out that the man had been sacked from his previous job. He probably used the Ksh5k I gave him to transport his household items.
That’s when reality hit home.
I was jobless, far away from home, and conned a whole Ksh 5,000. To say I fell into depression is an understatement.
After 2 months, things became unbearable. I had exhausted all my savings and had no emergency funds. I applied for jobs but none were forthcoming.
What’s more? My landlord was almost throwing me out. “Hii ni riziki yangu unachezea.’’ he told me as he gave me a vacation notice.
I remember googling the word “riziki” to at least be on the same page with him. Riziki means a source of livelihood.
My tall relative wanted nothing with me coz I resigned without informing her plus she wouldn’t understand why I quit.
“You made your bed, so lie on it.” She once texted me.
I didn’t inform my parents about all this either. The introvert that is me wanted no one to know what was happening.
Meanwhile, I didn’t have a laptop, so I couldn’t work online. I tried to apply for jobs, but only casual jobs were available.
I even tried to get a “mjengo” job but on that day, they were only hiring people who came with their own tools.
Luckily, a friend took me in. I at least had food and a place to lay my head. But I was jobless. All because I resigned without a plan B.
After 3 months, I still didn’t have a job. I swallowed my ego and informed my parents. So, I went back home, got a new laptop, and resumed online work.
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That was my fate. I have since learned to embrace fate. “Amor Fati’ the Greeks say. The good news is that I learned viable life and financial lessons.
Here are some key lessons I learned:
An emergency fund can bail you out in case of job loss. Experts recommend having 3-6 months' worth of your monthly expenses in an emergency fund. If I had an emergency fund, when I resigned, I wouldn’t have had trouble with my ‘riziki’ landlord.
In the army, nothing exists until it is in writing. I wish I knew this earlier. Don’t ever resign until you have a firm order on hand. I took the risk only ending up unemployed. I look back and wonder how I ever believed that Alex guy.
When Alex asked me for money, I should have suspected this’ fraud. But I was oblivious to this and had to face it tough.
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I felt like returning to my previous job but I had left without informing even my immediate boss. There was no chance they’d accept me back.
I was alone. Although a friend helped me, it was only after I informed my parents that things worked out. If I had informed them earlier, I wouldn’t have stayed jobless for long.
That’s it. What lessons did you learn when you resigned from your job without a plan B?