Interview With… is a Zikoko weekly series that explores the weird and interesting lives of inanimate objects and non-human entities.

Nigerian companies always like to say they pay a competitive salary, but it never lasts till the end of the month. Today on Interview With, we sat down with Competitive Salary and asked it to tell us the problem.

[Competitive Salary jogs in. ‘Eye of The Tiger’ starts to play from nowhere.]

Zikoko: Uhm, hello there.

[Competitive Salary stretches]

Zikoko: It’s good to have you.

[Competitive Salary drops to the floor and does 15 push-ups]

Zikoko: Pardon me, but I think it would be best if you sat down.

[Competitive Salary rises up and starts to squat]

Zikoko: …

[Competitive Salary drinks protein shake from a water bottle]

Zikoko: Is that a protein shake? Looks like you’re trying to bulk up.

Competitive Salary: Yes. I’ve been trying, but I’ve not bulked anything for the past eight years. Employers have told me to trust the process though, so I’m very hopeful.

Zikoko: I see…

[Competitive Salary dabs sweat and sits down]

Competitive Salary: Good day, Interviewer. 

Zikoko: Same to you, Competitive Salary. Thank you for showing up. 

Competitive Salary: I didn’t even plan to show up, but I decided to use the opportunity for Leg Day, so I jogged all the way here.

Zikoko: You sound like you are always training. Are you actually competing against something?

Competitive Salary: Interviewer, what is my first name?

Zikoko: Competi Oh…

Competitive Salary: Exactly. Since I was born, I have been competing. I am competing now, and I will compete till I die.

Zikoko: But who exactly are you competing against? 

Competitive Salary: Who

? I compete not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.

Zikoko: Only you? Okay, you have to explain now. Who are the principalities and powers?

Competitive Salary: HR. Or is it Talent Management they call themselves these days?

Zikoko: What about the rulers of the darkness of this world?

Competitive Salary: CEOs.

Zikoko: Interesting… What of spiritual wickedness in high places?

Competitive Salary: The government and everyone in power who is responsible for inflation and unnecessarily high prices.

Zikoko: Hm. It doesn’t seem like things are alright with you oh.

Competitive Salary: See, things are not alright at all. I never wanted to be about this life of competition. My relatives in foreign tech companies are in USD or other sensible currencies. But I am in naira and that’s why I am in trouble today. To be in naira is to fight and struggle everyday. 

And then, as if this isn’t enough, the HR and CEOs decided to make me competitive. They saw me fighting for my life and decided: “You know what this one needs? Competition. We will call it Competitive Salary.” That was when I knew they were the principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness of this world.

Zikoko: Have you ever tried to speak about it?

Competitive Salary: I don’t have to. The people who receive me are always complaining. Poor souls. They heard competitive salary and decided to apply for the job. Now, me and my owners don’t even get to see each other for more than a few seconds.

Zikoko: I’m not getting you.

Competitive Salary: The moment I drop like this, I’m running out of their accounts. 

I compete against house rent, black tax, Uber, food, debit alerts — unforeseen and foreseen, and if you have a car, I compete against it too, because it’s at the end of the month that the car will start making useless noises. I always advise people to increase the sound of their radio when their car starts to do anyhow. Let Ayra Starr’s voice help you drown out the sound of your gasket blowing.

Zikoko: That sounds like you want these people to have accident o. But tell me, if you were not a Competitive Salary, what would you rather be?

Competitive Salary: I just want to be a salary. As in, a livable wage. All this talk of competing is too much for me. This really isn’t a good way to live. Every day, I’m up at 6am, jogging,  squatting, stretching, doing push-ups and drinking protein shakes. Before the middle of the month, the things I’m competing with have defeated me.

Please, I’m tired. Is my creator on leave? Why always me?

[Competitive Salary breaks down in tears]

Zikoko: Pele. This is a lot. What advice would you give job seekers and everyone out there?

Competitive Salary: When next you’re asking about a job’s pay and they tell you that you should not worry because the salary is competitive, tell them that you will worry o. What’s bringing competition inside remuneration? They should say how much so you can know where you’re going.

[Competitive Salary gets a call and excuses itself to take it in the toilet]

Competitive Salary [from the toilet]: As in they’re coming now? Wow. But it’s just the 5th. I thought I had time. Okay. Bye.

[Competitive Salary returns]

Competitive Salary: If you’ll excuse me, I have just been told that there are debit alerts already hunting for me. It’s not even the middle of the month, but I can smell death. This is not life.

Zikoko: Ehya. Would you like

[Competitive Salary jogs out]

Check back every Friday by 9AM for new Interview With episodes. To read previous stories, click here.

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