I was 36 years old, had a plum job with The Observer. I had resolved, in my heart, that after covering the 2016 general elections, that would be it for me. I would move on and do personal projects, related to journalism and also do private business.
See, I was not tired of journalism or angry at someone at my workplace. I was just fed up of the routine that came with my job. I would wake up at 5.00 am and would be in office by 6.30 am or 7.00 am. I would attend the editorial meeting, pitch a story. I would call up the same political actors or analysts to get their views, write the story and hand it in for editing. The cycle would go on and on.
I believe journalists who have covered one beat for a long time can identify with this. It gets boring but what can you do if you are trapped by that salary?
I wanted to do something that breaks this routine but also earn good money while at it.
So I set off to plan my life anew. I Jotted down a few assets that I owned and mapped out how I could survive without a monthly salary. I had saved some little money that I hoped would take me through the rough months as I stabilized.
I had also bought an old Ipsum car which I deployed as a special hire in Kamwokya. It brought me Shs150,000 per week or roughly Shs600,000 per month.
I had resolved to sell my personal car, if need be, to boost my financial position.
My plan was to leave The Observer by December 31, 2016. In fact, I had long written my intention to resign letter (a copy of which I still have on my old laptop). I had not informed anyone, including my wife, colleagues and close relatives about this plan.
But a couple of months to December, I discovered that I was day dreaming. Reality hit me.
The biggest set back was when I lost my Ipsum car after it was stolen from the special hire driver by someone he ‘sort of’ knew. To make matters worse, I lost about Shs5 million to shrewd security operatives who milked me as a I did everything to recover an old car I had purchased for Shs9 million.
“Mzee, we traced the car in Arua. Send like Shs500,000.” Gosh! I gave up
In short, I realized that I still needed the job. My biggest worry was not about meeting the basics especially food and rent because I had figured out that one.
My biggest nightmare was dealing with things like school fees, that call for consistent earnings. I also wondered how I would handle a medical emergency that required millions of shillings. There would be no luxurious expenditure, I resolved.
To cut the long story short, I realised that I was not prepared yet to live without a monthly salary.
Psychologically I was not prepared to “struggle” because a salary conditions you to a certain lifestyle and society expectations.
So I went back to chasing politicians for the stories i.e political reporting.
This is an excerpt from a longer Facebook post, The Salary Trap.
Facebook: Edris Kiggundu