WHAT IS WORK?MY EXPERIENCE WITH A CAR WASH ATTENDANT – RICHMEN RONALD

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It was actually in 2007 as a manager of a hotel in Owerri, Imo state that I was thaught the meaning of work by the hotel’s car wash staff!

This particular staff Nnamdi, was the only applicant that applied with a First School leaving certificate as his highest qualification & specifically for the job of a car wash!

It was a 65 rooms hotel including single & double suits. On average 40 cars pack in the car park daily on weekdays & about 60 on weekends.
We weren’t charging fees for car washing. It was purely complementary.

In about a month of his resuming, I was getting excellent reports from guests & supervisors on the good conduct, attitude & professionalism being displayed by the car washer in his work. Within that period, there was an opening for a supervisor in the cleaning department. The number one candidate for the position that came to my mind was the car washer. I called him into my office & informed him that he will be resuming as a supervisor in the cleaning department with effect from the next Monday & that a new car washer will be resuming with him the next day for him to train in our ways of washing cars.

To my surprise & shock he declined the offer begging me to allow him remain as the car washer & citing his deficiency in education & good communication skills as inhibitions!

I allowed him to remain as the car washer but it raised my curiosity. I started to study his work as a car washer. What I discovered shocked me to the marrow & changed my orientation & definition of what work is & who actually is working!

On average he washes 60 cars a day including those of suppliers, contractors & customers that came to the hotel in the day time! Since the hotel complementary only covers washing the exteriors of cars, he collects a personal special fee of not less than 1k to wash the interiors of cars for customers that request for it. He gets an average of #500 per car as tips from appreciative customers & guests. All this translates to the car washer making on average 35k per day. If he shares 15k to his 2 assistants, he still makes 20k per day which translates to 600k per month where as my own salary as manager then was a little above 100k.

Another shocker I discovered was that this guy was actually a graduate but decided to apply with FSLC & specifically for the position of a car washer! What this means is that he knows exactly what he is doing, what he wants & what he was going to get from the beginning!

Why this story?

Because we have a wrong idea of what work is in this country & that’s why so many graduates & young men are roaming the streets jobless with ear phones in their ears, rucksacks on their backs & sagged trousers blaming the government for unemployment when millions of high paying jobs are staring them in the face at every turn! I know of roadside tailors that charge 20k to make a ‘senator’ caftan & could make 5 of them a day. I know of roadside seamstresses that charge 100k to make a simple wedding gown & could collect up to 300k if they are baking the wedding cake as well. Jobs everywhere but we give excuses with lack of power, government grants & loans as if those who are making millions everyday from these skills & trades got preferential treatment from government.

We don’t believe we are working unless we wear tie & suit or customs, immigration etc uniforms & go to offices every morning & swell the ranks of those agitating for 30k a month minimum wage even when the opportunities to do legitimate jobs that will pay us that in a day is staring us in the face at every corner!

These jobs & enterprises produce goods & services that grow the GDP, the economy generally & provide employment.

We need a change in orientation!

We need a new progressive way of thinking!!

Richmen Ronald

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