“We’re sorry but your job has come to an end.” Mark read that line on the email he had received earlier in the morning about 50 times.
The job he had dedicated 10 years of his life and sacrificed time with his family was over. He never expected that such a day would come yet he wasn’t worried. A month prior to the job loss, Mark was part of a group of employees who had been accused of stealing from the company.
“We have information that you had something to do with the Ksh 60 million that went missing from our accounts.” One of the financial managers said to Mark.
“I didn’t even know that such a thing had happened.” Mark tried to defend himself.
“We will put you on an indefinite leave as we carry out investigations.” The man said and dismissed Mark.
Before leaving the office, he looked around at the place he had spent most of his time in. It looked like a prison with bland gray walls and a sole ticking clock. He remembered how the sound of the clock used to irritate him when he was working in the dead of the night. He couldn’t help but smile as he packed his belongings which his colleagues found very strange.
“What has happened?” They asked.
“I got suspended because of some missing money.”
Everyone let out a loud gasp. Mark was the last person anyone would accuse of stealing from the company. His suspension was a wake-up call that any of them could be next. Sure enough, ten other employees were suspended due to the theft but the company still didn’t know who had done it for sure.
During the month that Mark was on indefinite leave, he completely switched off from work and spent all his time at home patiently waiting for a call back about the investigation.
“Everything will be fine. Don’t worry.” His wife comforted him.
“I’m not worried. I just want to clear my name.”
“It doesn’t matter what anyone says. I know you’re innocent.”
These words snapped him back to reality. Though he had put his work before his family, they still stood by him. He resolved that no matter what happened, he would focus more on his family.
A week later, he received the fateful email informing him that he had been fired from the job since he was suspected of stealing from the company.
He went to his home bar, calmly poured himself a glass of whiskey, then went back to the living room and turned on the TV to watch the news as he usually did. However, his calm demeanour was beginning to crack. He didn’t take a single sip from the glass or pay attention to the TV. His thoughts were racing and tempers were rising. He squeezed the glass so hard that it broke, slipping whiskey on the carpet and cutting Mark’s hand.
“Why?” He yelled but no one was there to answer him.
After he calmed down, he called one of his colleagues to enquire if he had suffered the same fate.
“Did you get an email from work?” He asked.
“Yes, I have. They fired me.” His friend was more emotional than him and broke down in tears.
“We’ll be alright,” Mark said.
At 35 years old, he had lost a promising job and his whole career had been destroyed due to the accusations against him. He thought about suing the company but he knew it would cost him nearly all his savings and might not end well. So, he had to come up with a different plan.
Out of the 10 employees who had been accused of stealing from the company, 6 of them had lost their job. Mark reached out to each of them and asked to meet. During the meeting, he proposed that they start a business together.
“This experience has taught me that a job can end at any time and I don’t want to go through this again. We were all employed for many years and have our savings. Let’s invest somewhere.” He said.
“What do you have in mind?” One of them asked.
“I have been eyeing a certain space which I think will be perfect for a grill spot. As you know I have been barbequing meat for you guys for ages and everyone loves my nyama choma. Guys are always asking me if I can be making some to sell. I think with our combined expertise we can create a great spot that can bring us some good money.”
The suggestion wasn’t met with as much enthusiasm as Mark hoped. However, he believed in his business idea and he was going to go through with it whether the other guys were on board or not.
The only person who seemed to be interested in the idea was Kevin, the first guy he called when he found out he had lost his job. He had been a good friend throughout the challenging time and the two leaned on each other for support.
“I think you have a great idea.” He said.
“Yes, but I needed the other guys to be on board as well.”
“What if we ask our spouses?” Kevin suggested.
Mark hadn’t considered asking their spouses to join in the business but it sounded like a good idea. Additionally, he liked that the business would be a family business. The only problem was he was so used to being the breadwinner that asking his wife for financial help felt unnatural. However, she had proved that she loved him regardless of his financial situation during the past months.
That night, he treated her to a romantic dinner as a way to show his appreciation and to break the news to her.
“We need at least Ksh 700,000 to set up the space.” He said to her.
“That’s a lot. How much do you have?”
“We have about Ksh. 200,000.”
“I can get Ksh 500,000 from my Sacco.” She said without hesitating.
Mark had tried to put on a strong front throughout the challenging times but his wife’s kind gesture got to him. He broke down in tears in front of other diners at the restaurant and it took his wife a few minutes to calm him down.
“You’ve been such a blessing in my life.” He said while the two embraced.
Kevin’s wife also contributed and the two men were able to establish the business.
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