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Losing My Fight With The Burger Giant

Takesure loves to write about life changing lessons he has learnt over time. He draws much of his inspiration from events in his own life.

My Neighbour’s Place

I was relieved to see the bus turn into our street. It had been a very long trip from town, the longest I’ve taken all my life. At last my torture at the hands of an inconsiderate friend and neighbour was coming to an end, I thought. “How dare she hit a man already on the canvas? Can’t she see I’m the victim here? Why isn’t she acknowledging that? On whose side is she?” I kept asking as the bus came to a halt at our stop.

We got off the bus together. She had a number of parcels with her so I helped her carry them to their place. As soon as we got off the bus she stopped the lecturing and suddenly became friendly. “This is because I’m assisting her with carrying her groceries,” I said silently. She turned her attention to power load shedding, water rationing and the general inability of the city fathers to provide basic amenities to residents.

Mrs Murehwa lived right next door with her husband Farai and their teenage daughter Ruvarashe. They were blessed with three children in all; boys Tinashe and Tinotenda, and beautiful Ruvarashe. Both Tinashe and Tinotenda were in college in Capetown, South Africa leaving Ruvarashe home with her parents. She attended a local high school, although she would’ve preferred boarding school, because her parents didn’t like having all their children away from home at the same time. “The house feels empty when all the kids are away,” Mrs Murehwa would always say.

When we got to the Murehwa’s place, there was no electricity. “This is what I was talking about Baba OJ!” she complained. It was as if the complaint was directed at me. “I don’t work for the power company!” I said silently. “These politicians can’t seem to have a solution to this problem. Until when are going to have to cope with these power cuts?” She continued. “African politicians have no idea what capital expenditure for national development is. All they know is to waste public funds on frivolous shopping trips abroad.” She fumed.

“Mrs Murehwa, I must be going!” I said getting ready to leave. “Thank you so much Baba OJ for your help with the groceries. Sorry I didn’t offer you something to drink. I just wanted to finish unpacking. Greet Sammy for me, will you?” She said as she continued unpacking. She wanted to finish that before her husband and daughter came home. “I will definitely do that!” I replied as I showed myself out.

My Appeal

“Sweetie, I’m home! Where are you?” I shouted as I poured myself an orange juice in the kitchen. I was very thirsty! I desperately needed an ice cold drink. It was too hot for an August afternoon. August, this side of the world, is not normally hot. It’s usually dry and windy rather. “Come on over darling, I’m in the study!” Sammy replied from behind the study door. Sammy loved to read biographies of the rich and famous. “They keep me motivated and inspired,” she would say. She must have read hundreds of them over the years.

“How did it go?” She asked as soon as I got into the study. She couldn’t wait any longer. She could see by my body language that it was bad news. Being the strong woman she is, she had prepared herself for the worst and handled it very well. I was trying my best to put on a brave face but I could feel that I wasn’t doing such a good job. My legs began to tremble. I threw myself into a chair next to me before I could collapse. “I wasn’t made for this!” I thought.

She took the dismissal letter and read it through. “Wait a minute! It’s not over yet!” She said pointing to a clause in the letter, "If you’re not satisfied with the hearing officer’s verdict and final determination, you can appeal to the company’s appeals officer for further arbitration.” The line read. “We fight on!” I said to my wife. “We can’t afford to easily give up the fight! We need this job!”

This time I sought legal counsel in the form of Tau Matambo. Tau is an experienced labour lawyer from the neighbourhood. His wife and Sammy are in the same sewing club. He was happy to assist with the case outside his business hours. We could not afford the fees charged by the firm he worked for so he chose to assist me in his individual capacity. Within two days my appeal papers were ready. Tau filed the papers with the company’s appeals officer for me.

He reported back that the appeals officer would look into my case and give his determination within fourteen days. Another forty night of torture again, I thought. I had no choice but to endure it. Thank God, I have such a supportive and strong woman as my wife. I don’t know if I would’ve managed without Sammy. She encouraged me to not only hope and pray for the best but to also prepare myself for the worst. She didn’t want the news to be a shock as they had been in the first instance. She feared I could spiral into a depression if I fail to handle the bad news reasonably well.

We sat down and looked at the choices we had assuming I wasn’t reinstated. There weren’t many options! It wasn’t looking good! Our investments had been eaten away by the runaway inflation in the country. My pension of over twenty years was slightly over thirty dollars though trillions in our local useless currency. Similarly our investments in the stock market were hit hard by the poor performance of the agro sector due to a poor farming season. Not to mention we still had mortgage and car payments to make.

I didn’t see a way out of this one without a job. Sammy saw differently though. We had three cars in all. She thought we could sell two of them and only keep the one still under finance. She thought with my knowledge of finance, experience in business, a bit of calculated risk taking and adequate preparation we could start and successfully run a business. “We’re only brainstorming and throwing around ideas just in case things don’t work out the way I want them to,” I thought. “I’m going to win my appeal since I have legal counsel this time. I would not need to go into risk taking what not,” I reasoned.

My Door Shut

The labour law is our country gives the employer’s internal appeals officer up to two weeks to re-examine the case and come up with a new determination. If the appeals officer fails to finalise the case within the two weeks, the employee is automatically reinstated. I hoped he would look into my case as early as possible so that I would not have to endure a good forty night of waiting.

My prayers were answered as he took less than a week to look into my case. I received a call from the appeals officer’s secretary informing me that he had made his judgement. It was the morning of August the twenty-eighth. I asked Tau to pick up the letter for me. He would drop it over at our place on his way home in the evening. We would need his legal advice too if things don’t go as I wished. I was still hopeful of good news, cautiously so, though.

At around six in the evening, I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door to see Tau, as I expected, envelope in hand. “Hello, Tau! How was your day?” I asked “Come on in and take a seat.” I continued. Tau came in and made himself comfortable. He was no stranger to our place. He handed Sammy the letter and asked her to open it. She did but from the look on her face I couldn’t tell if the news were good or bad. She was kind of emotionless. “Darling what does it say?” I enquired. She didn’t answer, she just handed Tau the letter.

Tau read the letter silently and said, “I’m sorry Baba OJ, they’ve upheld the earlier judgement.” He highlighted that my case was significantly weakened by my appearance at the disciplinary hearing without legal representation. He said much of what I said during the hearing, without legal advice, was coming to bite me now. He went on to explain to me the options that I had going forward. He said I could accept the dismissal and move on or I would continue fighting. I could take the matter to the labour court. This he stressed would take a lot of my energy and financial resources, not to mention the amount of time involved. "It can take you years in the courts," he said.

I thanked Tau for his assistance and showed him out. If only I had sought his counsel earlier in the case things might have turned out differently. We wouldn’t be needing to make such difficult choices as now. Well, it was water under the bridge now. I had to come to terms with my mistakes and map the way forward. It was time to look for a solution to the problems I had created for myself and family. “Only God knows how I’m going to do that,” I thought as I rejoined Sammy in the living room.

She still wore that look. The look that displayed no emotion at all. “Darling, what do we do now?’ I consulted. “We stop fighting baby! It’s not worth it! We can instead channel our energy and resources elsewhere, where we are likely to get success.” She responded. She was now sounding like my mentor not my wife. That was a side to my wife I hadn’t at all seen in twenty years of marriage. It scared the hell out of me!

© 2019 Takesure Danga

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