A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject of today’s “AWITL” used to be a professional hockey player but that didn’t work out. Now, he’s a driver on Uber. He talks about using his rent money to pay for the car he drives, living out of his car, and trusting God for his future.
The only person that can make my car go anywhere on Monday is God. Outside of him, no matter what’s happening, my car no dey leave where I park am on Monday.
Monday is my day off because I can’t come and kill myself. I chose this day because it’s normally tight and everyone in Lagos is rushing. While people are on the road struggling, I’m resting. And while they’re resting, I’m working. I’ve scheduled my timetable such that I work from Tuesday to Sunday and I’m okay with it.
As a result, I spent my time today washing my car and clothes — just chilling.
Thankfully, I’m not married nor do I have children so nobody disturbs me.
After finishing my tasks, I find something to put in my stomach and sleep. In the evening, I warm my car and check the oil and water levels.
At night, I mentally start preparing for work tomorrow. By 9 p.m., I’m asleep.
On the days I’m working, I wake up by 3 a.m. and resume work at 4 a.m.
Why? Because this country no balance. The earlier I start hustling, the more money I can make and the more I avoid holdup.
It’s hard being a driver because everything is against you: Lagos traffic, passengers, bad roads and even yourself. This morning, my body refused to cooperate at 3:00 a.m. so I woke up around 3:55 a.m. The first thing I did after waking up was to brush my teeth and go online on the driver’s app. Because I was late, there was no time to baff.
My first rider was going to Iyana-Ipaja so I cancelled the trip. Around this time, I only go to areas I’m familiar with. The next order was somewhere around Surulere so I accepted the trip. My procedure before picking a passenger in the morning is to call them to gauge their voice. If my spirit doesn’t like their voice, I cancel the trip. If they sound okay, I move.
In this life, you can’t be too careful. Last last we’re all in the hands of God but you also have to play your own part. Them still dey kill person wey get 1,000 security guards talkless of me that I’m alone. The only belief I have any time I go out is that God is with me. Apart from that, it’s purely instinct.
After hearing the passenger’s voice, I went to pick them. I dropped them and did four more trips until around 7:00 a.m. when traffic started to build.
By this time, I had made some money so I decided to go have a bath. After that, my day properly began.
I’m looking at my account balance and I’m not happy. I’m doing hire purchase — instalment payments — for this car and after delivering money to my boss today, my account is empty.
I’m tired because I used the ₦200,000 I wanted to rent a house with to pay the initial deposit for this car. Now, the car has also become my house. I can’t pay rent and I don’t have money. But people will see me driving a car and be jealous.
They don’t know that my experience be like season film; too many things are happening.
Every night, I go to my former area to park because I know it’s secure. I open my car windows and push my front seat down so I can lie on it. That’s how I’ve been sleeping every night for the past two months and I never die.
When I wake up in the morning, I go to my former house to use their toilet and bath before starting my day. Sometimes, I use the toilet inside banks or hotels.
I know that all this managing is just for a while. At least, until I finish paying for the car. No be say I dey lazy, na favour just never set.
Today, I blame myself for being Nigerian. As you’re seeing me, I’m a professional hockey player with Lagos State. In fact, I also used to play football but I ran away because there was no money in it. In hockey, at least we used to get some stipends to hold body. If the government invested in athletics maybe I wouldn’t be a driver.
I’ve played many hockey tournaments from Lagos to Abuja. I’ve also won many medals and done a lot of training, yet, nothing to show for it. Last year, I was in training camp for almost twelve months before COVID-19 struck. That’s how all our plans scattered. To make matters worse, our executives embezzled our money. That’s how I suddenly found myself stranded.
At that point, I had to tell everyone: “bro, captain, coach, I don’t want to train again. Don’t bother yourself calling me for camp. Don’t try it because I’m not doing again. When I’m financially stable, I’ll start my training again. Until then, nobody should call me.”
All my talent is just wasting. I blame myself for being born in this type of country.
I don’t mind driving because the work is okay. Sometimes you meet passengers who’ll treat you like a human being and relate with you. Other times, you’ll see the ones that will talk to you anyhow or insult you.
I take both of them with my chest. Na me know wetin I dey find and I have a goal. My biggest drive is that one day I’ll make it and become somebody in life. I no dey even think am too much because I know it’s for sure. That’s why I start today by praying and telling Baba God that he’s now in charge of my life. Me, I’m not doing again.
My problems may be bigger than me, but them no big pass God. The main thing on my mind is how I’ll pay off the ₦2.5M on my hire purchase. There’s also rent to think of after that one. Even if it’s a room self-contained, I’ll manage. There’s nothing like sleeping in your own house, on your own bed, under your own roof. Nothing beats having your own toilet to shit in without restrictions. Me, I’m not going to kill myself with overthinking. With the way I’m hustling I know I have no choice but to blow one day.
I’m turning 32 this year and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that this life no balance at all. But my own must balance.