Upon demobilization from the Royal Air Force, Mr. Braithwaite was confident that he would have no trouble finding a job. He had "a science degree and varied experience in engineering technology," and, after being interviewed by representatives of the Appointments Office, was given a list of three firms which had vacancies for qualified Communications Engineers. After promptly submitting his resumes to these companies, Mr. Braithwaite received invitations to interview with each of them. Upon reporting for the first of these interviews, however, he was surprised to be greeted with "silent hostility" by the receptionist, who curtly ushered him to his appointment. The interview itself went extremely well, in Mr. Braithwaite's estimation, and when it was over, the head interviewer complimented him on his qualifications and obvious knowledge in the field. He concluded, however, that he would be unable to offer Mr. Braithwaite employment, because the job for which he was applying would require that he be placed in a position of authority over a number of English employees, which would "adversely affect the balance of good relationship which has always obtained in (the) firm." In other words, Mr. Braithwaite could not be hired because of the color of his skin.
Stunned, Mr. Braithwaite called the other two companies which had offered him interviews, and told them straight out that he was a Negro. In both cases, he was politely told that the positions, sadly, had already been filled, and that it had been their intention to let him know this through written correspondence.
Mr. Braithwaite, angry and resentful, reflects on the "British Way of Life" which is so appealing to colonial people, and which, despite outward profession to the contrary, remains unattainable to individuals of color. Unlike in America, where racism during the post World War II years is "open, obvious, (and) blatant," prejudice in Britain is more subtle, but no less a betrayal. Realizing that essentially, he is an outsider, "British, but evidently not a Briton," Mr. Braithwaite reappraises his future. Resolving to make the best of his situation, he considers that his savings will last for about two years, which will be "plenty of time" to find the employment he is sure exists for him if he only looks hard enough (Chapter 4).