Thursday, 15 December 2011

The day "Shalit" turned into "Shaltot"

By Shaimaa Al Nazer

Like many others who found themselves unintentionally attached to working fields they have absolutely no passion for, I found myself considering a career shift after spending more than one year in my current field. And given that my thoughts are still wandering in a chaotic state, I couldn’t shape a clear idea about which field to shift to until now. Yes I know I am a little bit behind!

So, I took a chance through my friends to apply for a very well known bank that is currently expanding and is absorbing a huge amount of fresh graduates to fill in its new branches, although I hated the idea of giving up being special and having a unique role by joining the banking field that has a routine nature whether you like it or not, I applied. Everything was going well with the first interview, and then a date was set for the famous IQ test, I got the call "you have a test next Saturday at 1 PM". To be honest, I was not that excited; I didn’t really want to work in a bank as much as I wanted to change my career. But so what, okidoki.

That was until the day of the test!

On that day, I was very comfortable, I didn’t care much about how well I would do, how I would handle the finance and accounting questions that would definitely expose my disinterest in the field, or even what I would do if I passed the test. I just went to try something new. When I arrived, there were about 30 people waiting to take the test. I thought the number was reasonable, until I found out that there was another room full of applicants waiting for the test as well, summing up to nearly 80 applicants in total! What annoyed me at that point is that I knew a lot of these people and many of them haven’t majored in anything that has to do with banking; so it wasn’t just me, there was a bunch of us out there! However, I took a seat and started playing with my BBM waiting for the test to arrive, meanwhile I couldn’t help but observe what was going on around and what was being said by the rest of the applicants, I will put it in the form of a conversation that – I swear by everything dear – will tell every word EXACTLY as it was said, including grammatical mistakes.

(People enter the test room, take a look around and then have a seat, they try to engage with the rest who are already discussing how the test will go, characters will be named A, B, C…etc, except for a guy who I will call Einstein for his excessive knowledge with Banking IQ tests, and a girl I will call Dumber for how stupid she was for me, but still may be not the dumbest… So here we go)

Girl A: I heard the test is not that tough, I know people who did bad and then got a second interview.

Guy A: rabenayostor, I heard they would call us in two weeks if we passed the test

Girl B: OMG we will wait for two whole weeks?!!!!!

Einstein: it’s ok, as long as you do fine with the test, many of my friends passed it and got hired.

Girl A: so what do you think will be in the general knowledge section?

Einstein: they would ask about where the last football world cup was held, what is the largest country in the world, who is the current minister of finance…

Guy A (interrupting him): what is his name?!!!!!

Einstein: his name is Hazem El Beblawy, and also the head of the stock market…

Guy A (again interrupting him): Maged Shawky, right?!!

Einstein (starting to feel unique): no, that’s the former head; the current one is Mohamed Omran. Also, I think there will be a question about how many governorates are there in Egypt.

Girl B
: are they 24? Or 26?

Einstein: no, they are currently 27 governorates.

At this point when numbers got in the supplied information by Einstein, this group conversation won the attention of the whole room, and my ears. At the exact moment, Dumber walked in and started listening.

Einstein (continuing): … there will also be a question about the Israeli spy.

(stepping in the conversation): who is that spy?

Einstein: the one called something Shalit, and there’s this other spy as well, the one in Egypt, but I can’t remember his name.

Dumber (ignoring the last part of this sentence): so there’s the governorates, the spy guy, and???

Einstein (taking the role of a tutor): and world’s largest country and last world cup’s place…

Dumber (interrupting him): No nono,you said some other stuff too… look, what I want you to do is say the questions that are expected along with the answers, don’t wait for me to ask you about the answers ya3ny!! Just say it all…

So Einstein laughs like a CEO with a Cuban Cigar in his mouth passing his experience to his fresh employees and starts listing all the information in a Q&A form and everybody else is listening and writing down what he says. Then he turns to a side conversation with Guy B whileDumber starts revising with her friend Girl C.

: so there’s Maged Shawky the current head of stock market and Shaltotthe spy… what’s going on with him anyways?

Girl C: the Egyptian government will exchange Shaltot with another spy; I think his name is Gabriel.

Dumber: so Shaltot in exchange of Gabriel, and then….

At this certain point I couldn’t help myself from opening my mouth wide up being shocked from what I was hearing, until Einstein was almost addressing me as a sort of consultation for a question asked by Guy B that he couldn’t answer. I guess he felt that me being quite for so long implies that I know stuff too.

Einstein: yes, they will ask who acquired Bank of Alexandria and turned it to Alex Bank; I just can’t remember the name!!! (Looks at me)

Me (with a very uninterested look): Intesa Sanpaolo

Einstein (happy to find someone else answering questions instead of asking): YES that’s it

Guy B: it’s Spanish, right?

Einstein: honestly I don’t know, but why do you think so?

Guy B
(with a huge shallow smile): don’t know, but feels like a word in a Spanish song, I can picture a Spanish dance on it.

And that was it… The amount of ignorance was too much for the capacity of one room for God's sake!! I could not believe that these are the young ambitious passionate members of a generation that is loaded with the responsibility of lifting this doomed country up high, a generation in which people have hopes and dreams, in which people have faith, in which people invested efforts, funds and aspirations. A generation that turned out not even interested in knowing what's going on with the country to the extent that Shalit turned into Shaltot, the same country that they almost got themselves killed in pursuit of its freedom and many of them got killed indeed! Not to mention that most of the applicants are graduates from very respected universities, and that they were coming in that day for a test, meaning they didn't even bother to get ready for it, to deserve the or even to feel as insightful and knowledgeable as Einstein did feel in such a context.

The whole thing made me pause and wonder if we are really doing our part in the whole process, was it really about seeking a better future, a better living, a set of deserved rights, recognizing that duties and responsibilities come along in the package, or was it just an attempt to prove that we are powerful and undefeatable even by a 30 years old decaying yet solid system? And then when the game is over and we win everything could come back to "normal"…

The test went ok, I finished in half the time, drove back home, went to my room and stared in the mirror for a while… and I knew that I wasn't anywhere near ok.


  1. I really enjoied reading this beautiful article :)
    Keep the good work

  2. I'd go with a little pessimistic.. Not all the society are as open to facts like you are, but many still are
    A nice article.. I hope you earned yourself a second interview :)