Like all his previous jobs, Kingsley once again finds himself in the company cafeteria having lunch at a communal table all by himself. He could hear whispers and snickers as people walked by. What else must he do to fit in at his new job?
A little over three months ago, Kingsley was all fired up, ready for another new start. At 36 he seeks work stability and yearns for friendship. This time ‘it was going to be different’, he told himself. He was not going to be judged before people got to know him. He had taken a bold step to move from a southern state to one in the western part of the country. Running from a reputation he inherited from his Father. If he changed his geographical location then maybe his new community would not judge him like others. He went about ensuring he had a job waiting for him in his new state. Advocating the use of tele and video calls for interviews and with a very solid resume, the recruitment process was like a breeze.
Fast-forward to a couple of days ago, Kingsley stepped through the office doors for the first time and asked to see the HR manager. He would need to go through an onboarding process with her and be introduced to all departments. He could feel a few stares burning holes in the back of his neck while he waited at the reception to see the HR manager. Finally, she came out and introduced herself, Kingsley replied, ‘My name is Mr. Kingsley Abibi, Jr.’
Oh! Did I mention that Kingsley is the only son of Kingsley Abibi, the notorious armed robber from the south who murdered scores of people in the late 70s. Kingsley Junior was conceived the year his father was eventually caught and executed on presidential order.
With age, Junior had come to physically look identical to his father. Although she tried to hide it, you could see the change in the facial expression of the HR manager. Being from the south as well, she knew of Kingsley Abibi Snr. all so well. There it was, less than an hour into the new job and Kingsley had once again been preceded by the reputation of his infamous father. It was torture as he went from office to office introducing himself and having the facial expressions repeated like a broken record.
A couple of days in, and here he was alone in the cafeteria. No one even acknowledging his presence. As he pondered how to overcome this unique problem of his, he knew he could not run anymore. He needed a solution ASAP!
Kingsley was thinking… in the past he had tried lying about who he was. This did not seem to work, as somehow, the truth always surfaced which quickly gave him the ‘office liar’ title that was a whole different kettle of fish. He felt, if only he was given a chance to explain, people would realize he was a nice guy and they might immediately like him. The challenge was, no one ever hung around long enough for him to explain, the book was already sufficiently judged by its cover.
Drastic times, call for drastic measures! Kingsley was not much of a church goer anymore, he had felt abandoned by God for a while now, or did he abandon God…? But he remembered what had quickly become his favorite verse as a youngster. He jumped back to reality from his thoughts and subconsciously leaped to his feet: “My Bible says”, he bellowed, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin. My name is Kingsley Abibi Junior. Most of You have heard of my father and the bad things he did, but HE did them! I am not and will never be like him and I hope you all will stop putting me to death for the sins of a man I never knew nor met’.
With everyone one staring and an eerie silence in the cafeteria, a couple of seconds passed by before Kingsley sat down burying his head back into his lunch. He pondered, ‘They must think I’m crazy’ but he had gotten it off his chest and it felt good. Two colleagues, who had been sitting at a nearby table on their way out stopped at Kingsley’s table. “I bet you never got bullied with a name like yours!” one said. “I got bullied in school a lot, wish I had your last name, no one would have messed with me”. Chuckles turned to laughter as they comically discussed the ‘pros and cons’ of having the Abibi name. In the short walk back to the offices, Kingsley had gotten an invite to hang out after work on Friday. It was two people out of hundreds, but it was a start.
No one knows what the future holds. Kingsley was just happy to have a chance to build a reputation of his own and he was not going to miss it. Be true to yourself and remember that yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.