Nothing beats declaring to peers that 'I'm at a Sandton firm'

Kwanele Ndlovu Singles Lane
The writer says she has always wanted to work in the Sandton CBD for the sheer prestige of it all.
The writer says she has always wanted to work in the Sandton CBD for the sheer prestige of it all.

My friends and I have always aspired to work in Sandton.

We have always held romantic views about the corporate world and particularly that area. While studying for our degrees, we resolved to launch our legal careers there. We applied to every firm we could find on the net. We knew we were destined for nowhere else.

I cannot describe my excitement when I finally landed a job there. I, Kwanele Ndlovu, the daughter of Zwe, was finally going to climb the corporate ladder in the city of Sandton. I am talking fancy cars, lots of zeros in my bank balance and food names I couldn't pronounce.

This is how I had imagined my initiation into the ranks of the richest square mile in Africa: I will arrive early in the morning, just in time to see the sun illuminate that marvel that is the Discovery building in Katherine Street. I will first head to gym and watch the bustle through the glass windows while I sweat scented drops of sparkling water.

Then I would catwalk across the road at lunch time and have a light meal and designer coffee with my friend. Hug and air kiss as I head back to my air-conditioned office to complete whatever was in my diary for the day. Did I mention that I am doing all this in a perfectly fitted suit and carrying a genuine leather bag that matches my comfortable heels?

Think of all the fashion scenes in The Good Wife, Suits and The Fixer. I was going to be that creed of lawyer - thin MacBook, style and money.

But of course employment is not like TV. In fact, I would not want any moment of my work day to be televised at all. It is full and busy and I am here to learn and be productive.

All that illusion about glitz is really not scripted into my days as yet. The one month as a training Sandton lawyer has been a rude awakening, see. First of all, nobody even notices that I am now part of the corporate culture.

The reality is that I work in Sandton. Work. Which means I am neither a shopper nor a tourist. I grind. See, a wealthy corporate culture is sustained by hard work - and that is what my Sandton dream boils down to.

I live in the East. I wake up in the wee hours of the morning because traffic to Sandton is insane. If you don't make it in by 7am, you might spend close to an hour in traffic from the freeway. While I do reach the office just as the sun rises and lights up all the majestic architecture around here, I have no time for all that artsy admiration. I get started with my work.

And lunch times are spent at the office eating from my lunch box.

I am newly employed and starting at the bottom ranks . the cafe macchiato and a summer garden sandwich is way beyond my scope. I do not wander into the Diamond Walk at the mall across the road. I remain in the office until such time that the traffic has subsided and get home after dark.

When I do get out of the office, I see all these people wearing linen and white shirts and Panama hats.

Relaxed, known around town and never in a rush. They spend almost all day looking cool and reading newspapers in these fancy cafes. A meeting here, drinks there and maybe a purchase or two at the boutiques. Those are not the people employed in Sandton. Sandton employees look something like me; suited up, in a rush and busy.

I guess the best part of being in a suit in Sandton is that I love my work and couldn't have scored a better employer. Every day I look forward to going back to the hustle and bustle. And, of course, it works wonders for my cred when I tell my peers "I'm at a Sandton firm."

You just can't beat that.

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