A few months ago, I was somewhat offered a sort of position for a group/organization I highly respect. Yes, that’s my employment status: “somewhat sorta offered a sort of position.”
With a degree in Islamic Studies not necessarily having much prospect outside teaching in an Islamic Studies program, I jumped at the opportunity to have a chance at actually working and getting, quite possibly, what is commonly referred to as a “disposable income.”
Anyway, the individual with whom I was in contact lived across the world and he suggested that we pick a time to skype. Given the inconvenience of his location and my late-mornings, we weren’t seemingly getting anywhere. It just so happened that one day I was awake around 6 am and in the process of emailing one another, he suggested that we skype then. I agreed, excited at the prospect, nervous that I had done nothing to prepare.
He emailed me his name on skype, let’s say Begin Shareef. As I looked for him, I realized there were quite a few Begin Shareefs but picked the one that was most likely him. I emailed Begin to let him know I had added him and was waiting. Within a matter of minutes, Begin messaged me on skype and we started talking. The conversation started off rather simply, in that generic sort of manner: hello’s and how are you’s were exchanged cordially.
Begin then asked “So, what do you do up in Canada?”
While his completely non-chalant interrogation was a nice departure from the usual scripted dance, I was a bit confused. He had seen my CV and was well aware of what I had been up to for the previous few months. Nevertheless, I took it as an ice breaker and said what it was that I do: MA student, writer, blogger, full time food eater.
He went onto to ask a few more personally-framed questions, which seemed slightly odd but I took it again as a way of him testing waters and making the situation more comfortable, which I still did not understand as I was comfortable from the get go. He then asked if I had ever been on Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage. At this point I was really confused, but then thought that the Hajj wasn’t so far away and that he was just asking out of curiosity. I played along.
After awhile, I asked him, “So, what do you do over at NMC?” (News Media Company that shall not be named).
“NMC?” he replied.
“Yes …News Media Company..”
At this point I was extremely confused. Did he not know the acronym for his own place of employment? Becoming slightly irritated, I checked my inbox, noticing a new email had arrived.
From Begin. Ten minutes earlier.
He had written: “Sorry Sana, running a bit late, will be on in ten minutes.”
And it struck me, I wasn’t talking to Begin Shareef of NMC. I, the ever-enthusiastic grad student in dire need of employment and on the cusp of landing a dream position, had been talking to another Begin Shareef who lived in Capetown and, as it turned out, was mischievously intrigued by my boldness and initiative.
Unfortunately, he was not hiring for anything. So I blocked him.