4 January 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

A day in the life - Series

Up until one of the last few times my friend, Ifeanyi rode with me in my car, I always got worked up whenever I noticed a squeegee boy approaching in traffic. On that particular day, as the boy was doing his thing on my windscreen, I told my friend how I was worried about how much the stubbornness of these street kids gets to me. The only invitation they will ever need to proceed with rendering their service is that your vehicle's windscreen is not sparkling clean. It won't be surprising if they deemed your windscreen deserving of a wash as you drove your car home from a car wash centre.

Ifeanyi asked me to just ignore them, that none of these kids was worth my fretting. From that day onwards, that was how I handled any of these ubiquitous pests who approached me. To help his hustle, each time I see a squeegee boy approaching, I usually make a waving hand gesture to indicate that I am not interested in his service. But that rarely ever stops him from going ahead - my car's glasses are not tinted.

He will go ahead to dutifully apply his squeegee on my windscreen with one hand - soap bottle in the other - completing one side before proceeding to the next. He would continue until either the windscreen is spick-and-span - by his judgement - or the traffic light which brought us together turns green. He would then proceed to the side of the car where I - the driver - am seated to request for a monetary handout; his tip for an unsolicited job well done.

All the while he's going about his business, I would watch calmly from the protection of my car; confident in the security that my wound up car windows offer against him. More often that not - since I am usually in a good mood - I would look in the pigeon hole and the other compartments of the car to see if I have any small notes to hand out. The availability of such notes would then be the sole determining factor of whether or not he was going to get paid for his service.

Today, while walking along Herbert Macaulay road in Yaba, Lagos, I walked past a group of squeegee boys on one side of the road. For the first time in a long time, I did not feel threatened by their presence within my immediate vicinity. After all, my forehead bears no resemblance to the windscreen of a car - except that both are positioned analogously (kind of). The first thing that came to my mind was a (bathroom) idea that got me really excited a couple of weeks ago.

I often find myself wanting to know what a typical day is like for people whom the regular flow of our daily activities would never allow our interactions - if at all they ever happened - breach the mere surface. My mechanic, the Obioma (nomadic tailor), the ancient looking man who has been hawking cleaning mops around the Sabo/Alagomeji area of Yaba for the past few years. Or the mama fine-bara of Ozone/White house at Sabo who inspired a funny Facebook note I wrote five years ago. So, I thought it would be a good idea to let my curiosities lead me as a writer. To go ahead to satisfy my curiosity by starting a writing series which documents my chat with one person that falls into this category from time to time.

Up until today, I had procrastinated my first chat out of a baseless fear that the subject of the interview would not be as cooperative as I would like. As if one episode of rudeness from a stranger would zap all of the self-esteem that I've struggled to build over the last decade of my life. However, today was one when I was not going to let this perfect opportunity slide past me; the conditions were perfect and my passing upon this opportunity would make me doubt if I have what it takes to achieve my dreams in life. I made a mental note to approach one of the squeegee boys on my way back from the business which I had set out for.

To be continued tomorrow...

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9 March 2017 at 16:08 delete

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