The bus stop at the end of Kano street was rowdier than usual. Children going to school, men on their way to earn a living and market women carrying baskets of fresh produce and foul smelling fish were mashed together in a colorful mixture, all tense and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the infamous danfo buses as raindrops drizzled lightly.
It seemed like a mass epiphany had occurred, prompting everyone to leave their various homes at the same time as it became obvious that the rainfall that started almost two hours earlier was never going to stop fully.
As he struggled to keep the other commuters from stepping on his shiny shoes, Tunde silently cursed the gods for deciding to direct their odorless and colorless piss at his city on the morning of his job interview, fully aware that he did not own an umbrella.
The rain had been the only disruption in Tunde’s well planned morning. He had carefully memorized the bus route to the address of his interview, dry-cleaned his navy blue Pierre Cardin suit and white John Francomb T.M shirt, given the shoemaker down the road his black Zara brogues to polish twice and was already half dressed when it began to rain heavily and he realized that he had no umbrella.
“Palmgroove Ikeja, Ikeja Palmgroove”
The hoarse voice of a conductor calling through the window of an approaching danfo bus snapped him back to reality and as he watched several others ready themselves in anticipation for the Ikeja bound bus, he quickly realized that he was faced with a dilemma.
If he struggled with the others to enter the bus, he would arrive at his job interview with rumpled clothes and if he chose not to, he would have to wait for a few more buses and most likely arrive late for the interview.
As the bus drew closer, his anxiety increased and it dawned on him that even the school children at the bus stop had more busing experience than he did; until he left his father’s house six months earlier, Tunde had never boarded a bus.
In a blur of brilliance and sheer desperation, Tunde came up with a simple solution to his seemingly complicated problem. He quickly grabbed the small, wild eyed schoolboy standing next to him and made an offer he knew the child could not resist.
“See ehn, I can’t struggle for bus, find space and I’ll lap you, I’ll pay for the bus and give you N500 extra, you hear?”
The boy quickly responded “yes sah” before disappearing into the crowd waiting to struggle for the few seats on the approaching bus. A few seconds later, the bus was full and about to begin motion when Tunde noticed a small hand waving at him from the second row.
“Wait! wait!!” He shouted at the conductor before adding that the young boy was with him. He ignored the puzzled looks from the other schoolboys who were lapping one another at the last row, squeezed himself into the bus and carried his young accomplice on his laps as planned while the conductor slid the door of the bus shut.
“Ya money for dia bros”
Tunde gave the conductor a one thousand Naira note, collected his change and slipped a crisp N500 note into the hands of his new found friend. The resulting beaming smile from the boy stirred Tunde’s emotions deeply, the N500 was probably all what the poor chap would have to spend all week during lunch breaks in his school.
Nostalgia quickly subdued Tunde as his mind drifted to memories of his own secondary school lunch breaks. Before the bell rang to signal “break-time”, one of his father’s personal drivers, usually the same one who had dropped him off at school in the morning, would have returned with a cooler of warm freshly prepared food and juice freshly processed from the fruits plucked on Tunde’s fathers massive farm.
His father had always ensured that Tunde got the very best of everything and it was no surprise that at age twenty one, Tunde had acquired both a bachelors and masters degree in Business Administration.
Tunde’s father was severely shocked when only eight months after his Masters graduation, Tunde suddenly decided to relinquish his position as Chief Operating Officer of the family’s government funded farmland and relocate to Lagos to find his own way. In the weeks that followed, his father froze Tunde’s accounts and decreed that any comfort Tunde enjoyed from his father’s wealth was to be stopped immediately.
“If you want to act like a man, then you must do it the right way” he said,
Confident that he would easily secure a good job with his qualifications, Tunde ignored all warnings and pleading from his family members and moved from Abeokuta to Lagos. His personal savings account had not been affected by his fathers actions and it provided him with enough funds to rent an apartment on the mainland and furnish it with everything a young man could want except the only thing he would eventually need-an umbrella.
By the time Tunde realized that all the major companies he was applying to were either owned or run by friends and associates of his father, his bank account was almost empty. The pricey taxi fares, fast food joints and expensive social outings had taken a huge toll on his savings.
He had come very close to giving up a month earlier, he had even picked up his phone to call his father when he saw a mail fromhotnigerianjobs.com, inviting qualified graduates to write the Goliath National Bank aptitude test.
The struggle to write the test was worse than anything he had ever experienced as thousands of graduates, those unemployed and those seeking better employment, assembled at the different test venues.
The sight of such a massive crowd applying for the few positions greatly diminished Tundes confidence and he had been very surprised when he got the mail from GNB inviting him for an interview.
“Oya oya come down o, we haff reach last bus stop”
As he alighted from the bus and continued his journey, Tunde knew that not even the gods and their rain were capable of stopping him as he was now determined more than ever to complete what he had started.
“Congratulations on your new job Mr. Tunde, we look forward to having you here with us at Goliath National Bank,
here is your contract and you can go over it during the weekend but you must bring it signed when you resume on monday.
Your six months probation will commence immediately and you are to resume by 7.a.m daily.
Official closing time is 5.p.m but you cannot leave until you have finished all your work.
On your way out, stop by the store and show them this contract so they’ll provide you with your right size of the company uniforms which you have to wear on company premises.
Details about your annual salary and other benefits are included in the contract and you are welcome to come and see me if you have any issues that need clarification.
Once again, congrats. ”
As Tunde browsed through the contract, he felt his emotions drastically dissolve from pride and elation to disappointment and anguish, the six figure annual salary he was offered was only slightly above half of what he had earned monthly at his fathers farm.
Even the hundreds of fresh graduates employed yearly at his fathers farm in compliance with the terms of the governments funding, earned more than what he was being offered and under less stringent conditions.
As he walked out of the Goliath National Bank head office downcast and brooding, Tunde wondered if his father would still offer him his old job or if he would have to start from the bottom this time around, as a masters degree holding farmer.