A Bus conductor is someone who takes your money as charge for a transport fare. Well, that’s my own definition. Some bus conductors give the passengers a ticket, whilst some don’t. Whatever the case is, bus conductors play a major role in transportation and if you live in Africa or have ever been to Nigeria, you’ll know that there are bus conductors and there are bus conductors. So, in this series of Lesson From The Streets, I will be sharing my opinion on bus conductors with emphasis on those in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, some people in different towns label bus conductors with names peculiar to them including, but not limited to ‘Thugs, Touts, Agbero, Utoto, Area Boys, etc’ which are names attached to criminals and people with evil vices. This may be true to a certain extent, but it is not completely true as not all bus conductors fall under this category. Yes, their looks may be sturdy, stony, dirty, raggedy, this or that and it may be easy to pass them off as criminals on the streets because they don’t take care of themselves, but not all bus conductors are untidy, dishevelled, with a bad odour or walk around with evil intentions. Some are kind, intelligent, God-fearing people who are simply trying to make ends meet for themselves and well, in a country like Nigeria with a high rate of unemployment, helping yourself survive as an individual seems to be a mantra to live by.
Each day I use a bus in whichever town or city in Nigeria that I am, I’ve had to be really careful with the way I jump on buses for security and safety reasons because well, you have to shine your eye if you don’t want to end up in a one-chance vehicle. I also try to position myself in a comfortable seat or position where a dirty bus conductor’s saliva while talking won’t drop or me or whose armpit won’t stain my dress or the bad odour from his mouth, armpit or cloth won’t affect me. However, there are lessons I learn from these bus conductors who may seem like they have nothing to offer besides shouting out bus stop stations, being lousy, collecting money from passengers and pissing off anyone they want to. Trust me, a bus conductor could be the reason you have a bad start or end a good day with a bad mood. So, what are the lessons I’ve learned from the everyday bus conductors on the streets?
Here, I’ll start by saying that these bus conductors who come off as a menace to some people in the society because of their unprofessionalism are actually skilled in a few areas which could be termed as transferrable skills. They know the roads and streets in the towns and cities and even when they don’t, they’re not afraid to ask anyone for direction or in the reverse- i.e in the case of helping a passenger, they offer help and support by giving directives. Now, this is knowledge that takes a lot of people almost forever to have. They know the different cars on the streets and sometimes by their brand names and models…do you? They are very strong marketers who see potential passengers and do not waste time to convince them to board their vehicles. They have negotiation skills and will always arrive at a price for the best interest of everyone and yes, they can be cheats too. They are organizers who know how to coordinate and organize their passengers in the buses , making arrangements and never forgetting who didn’t give them money or who needs to be given a balance of whatever amount. They are problem solvers, communicators and honestly, there’s just so much more that can be learned from bus conductors.
Do you have bus conductors in your town or city? What are their good and bad sides? Anything else you’d like to share? Any topic about lessons from the streets you’d like to be discussed? Please feel free to drop a comment and follow the blog for more content and updates on topics that interest you. The next topic in this series will drop soon, so, don’t go no where.