A Nigerian Job Odyysey

Chinazor Onianwah

. There was that time in 1995, I’d just passed the test for the Microsoft Systems Engineering Certificate and there were too many jobs to be had. The problem was deciding which one to keep. In a spate of one month, I jumped from one job to another that offered to pay more. The Internet was booming under the Clinton era. Network engineers were hot and too hot to keep. I was single with no kids. I was willing to travel to reset a password in Alabama and stay in a hotel for two nights and bill the company $5000 just because the CEO, forgot the password to the company Windows NT server over the weekend. Compared to now, every device can identify themselves and be clustered through a wireless IP Address, locally and wide. Yep, we’ve come along way.
Now, network engineers have gone the way of dynosaurs- extinct. But there was that great job I had with a CNN contractor as a field producer: I had a journalism background and IT, and web development experience; it came in handy as media began to merge with content development for both platforms. It was my dream job except that when I met with my crew, all white males, they were expecting an Asian guy.
My name, Chinazor Onianwah sounded Asian to some but I didn’t look Asian. They had gotten used to an Asian that knew technology and they could take directions from him. But me, they feigned inability to comprehend my accent. Media storage devices went missing. On locations, we recorded events with no audio. But I circumvented their ploy to ruin my work, I bought my own digital camera and my own laptop. When they said file was missing, I uploaded mine which I had edited. I was turning in my work and getting compliments but it wasn’t fun. I was exhausted not from work. From mental stress. And there was no one to talk to. Then one day, the alarm buzzed I reach out and turned it off. I never returned to that $40,000 a year gig. No regrets though.

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