Someone should please tell me I’m not the only one with embarrassing childhood memories. That wishing I could go back in time to smack some sense into my younger self isn’t a feeling peculiar to me. I really need that assurance for what I’m about to share in this post. The memory I talk about in this post is one of those that always leaves me feeling this way. Whenever I remember it – and commuting on Lagos roads does bring it to my mind a lot – I can’t help but wonder what must have gotten into my mind. It’s one of the major cringe-worthy memories in the extensive back catalogue of cringe-worthy memories I’ve made in my relatively brief time on this earth.
Growing up, we all had lofty aspirations as regards what careers we’d want to practice when we became adults. While the majority of us, back then, nursed professional dreams of becoming doctors, engineers, lawyers, pilots, surgeons and the likes. A very few had dreams of making it in the creative industry as musicians, fashion designers, actors & actresses etc. Meanwhile, somewhere in Ketu-Ijankin, a not so popular suburb of Lagos, a certain young and impressionable Toluwalase was dreaming otherwise. As a kid, I had the worst career ambition. At that stage of my life, I thought I wanted to grow up to become a, wait for it…. bus conductor.
I know this might be a little bit difficult for some of you to believe. It’s the truth. I dreamt it. And, at that time, I meant it. I was convinced I wanted to be a bus conductor. I really wanted to become a Lagos bus conductor. In case you are out there making excuses for me in your mind. Thinking I’m probably not referring to what you know and understand bus conducting to be. Firstly, I would like to thank you for your kindheartedness and for believing the best in me. But, sorry to disappoint you, I really wanted to become a Lagos bus conductor. I mean the hanging-by-the-side-of-the- door, top-of-the-lungs-bus-stop-name-screaming, an aggressive-passenger-soliciting bus conductor. I was thinking the real deal and I was willing to go the whole nine to achieve my dreams. Funny.
Thinking back to that time now, I can’t help but feel for my parents. They must have been left with no choice but to feel disappointed in me at that moment. Or, even though they acted really concerned, maybe somewhere at the back of their minds, they knew it was childish talk. Whatever the case, I’m glad to have outgrown that dream now. But, how did I arrive at that dream in the first place?
If I’ll be completely honest, seeing bus conductors with wads of money in their hands was my motivation. Lagos bus conductors were, and still are, popular for holding their money in thick bundles. That was where I got it all wrong. Once again, in my defense, I was young and impressionable. I want to believe people who grew up in Lagos would understand where my younger self was coming from and also sympathize with him.
What made me even more unwavering with this bus conductor dream was that commuters still gave these bus conductors money. I mean, these were people flashing wads of naira notes in our faces. It didn’t make sense to me at that time that we should be the ones giving them money. I wasn’t seeing doctors or lawyers receiving that much love. For all I knew, people tried their best to avoid having to meet with them. To my young mind, the bus conducting life had to be the dream life. You couldn’t tell me those guys were not balling. Wheew…. *buries head in shame* Like I said, I was, at that stage of my life, very young and extremely impressionable.
Thank God I knew not to dwell on that dream for far too long. I can’t begin to imagine my lazy self hanging by the door of a danfo bus screaming at the top of my voice, Anthony! Maryland!! Ojota!!! If there is anything I’m grateful I failed at in life, it has to be my failure with this dream. I really do thank God for failing successfully.
So, with this post, I propose a toast to bus conductor dreams that never will be.