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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Go & Bring My Slippers From the Car

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Writing Monday Morning Banter used to be a lot of fun for me. It was light and easy; I didn’t have to worry about depth or pseudo-intellectuality. Just keep it simple, and you’d be fine. However, two years later, I’ve found myself asking questions about purpose and essence. So ,I’m caught in this place of keeping it light, and trying to pass a message across – leaving a mark with one person . Now, it’s about that domino effect.

I ask myself questions about the effect of what people read on my column in relation to lifestyle and cultural change. How are we shifting the dynamics of what we know to be ‘norm’ and how are we making things better? If we’re to be a part of the change we want to see in Nigeria, Africa, or Black people in general… how much are we doing to open our minds to the ideas for change and impact?

What are those tiny things which we do as rote? Why do we do them? Have we ever asked why we do what we do? If we try to do these things differently, will we be better people?

One of such things is the idea of sending subordinates on errands. Earlier on this year, someone on the TalkNaija WhatsApp group told us about how she was in such a hurry to get to work that she forgot her shoes. Luckily she had a spare pair in the car so she asked her house officer to go get her shoes from the car. Then, I asked why she couldn’t get her own shoes? If she absolutely had to send someone, then why didn’t she send someone whose job description included running domestic errands? She retorted that as the house officer’s boss, she could send him/her on any errand. She further cited the hippocratic oath, stating that it was part of the subordinate’s job to ensure the boss could perform effectively.

As I am not a doctor, I do not know the nuances of the profession; however, I have been on the receiving end of being sent on all forms of errands by virtue of being the youngest person in the room.

A lot of people say that being the last child comes with a lot of perks. There’s a belief that the last child is spoiled rotten, and doesn’t have to experience the strict regime of the parents. {We explored the different things associated with a child within a family here}. Nobody talks about the fact that you’re an automatic subordinate and therefore subject to being sent around. When I was younger, my cousin Abemu specialised in the art of SENDING! On days when she was at home, we (the younger children) found creative ways to make ourselves scarce! She fancied herself as a clean freak, so on Saturdays she would sit down and start ordering the minions. “Clean the window sill”/”Did you get that space behind the TV?”/”If I look at that glass, will my teeth sparkle?” At the end of the day, she would complain of extreme tiredness! Ahn ahn! Sister, tiredness from sending your younger relatives on errands?

As Nigerians, the ability to boss other people around is one of the perks of seniority. From secondary school, you’re anxious to become a senior so that you can mete the evil done to you (by seniors) on junior students. {Remember ‘Senior Pangolo’?} There’s that sense of entitlement that comes with a position of authority. It’s one of the reasons why a lot of students are terribly unhappy when they’re transferred to another school just as they’re about to attain the ‘Senior’ status.

In all of this, we find this attitude spilling over into adulthood. But it begs the question of how we’re fostering a culture of laziness. Or is it simply our culture – you’re older/in a position of authority and as such every other person beneath you is available to do your bidding. It can also be argued that delegation of duty is an important part of people management. Some people argue that they need to delegate to subordinates to effectively manage time resources.

So if I’m on a conference call with clients, then it makes sense to ask my staff to buy me mobile top-up for my phone. Or if I’m about to perform important surgeries, it’s more effective to send my house officer to bring my shoes from the car.

Where do we draw the line between delegation and just taking advantage? Do we have this innate culture of ‘this is how it was done to me, and I must do it to people coming after me’?

I know a lot of people who have said one of the reasons they don’t like living abroad is the fact that they don’t have cheap help with domestic activities. In Nigeria, there’s the acceptable culture of servitude. “Your boss is coming, rush and carry the encyclopaedia he’s holding, because he’s going to pull a palm muscle if he holds his own book”. Are we subconsciously continuing a culture of laziness?

What do you guys think? Is this OUR WAY and we should deal with it? Is this a form of delegation? Should people start doing things by themselves or are some questions best left unasked?

Have a fantastic week ahead. Remember to eat healthy, exude joy from within and impact positivity to people around you.

Peace, love & cucumber slices.
Toodles!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Orangeline

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

87 Comments

  1. peaches

    September 15, 2014 at 10:54 am

    thank you Atoke o! this whole culture of sending subordinates on unnessary errands when absolutely nothing is wrong with ur two hands and legs is horrible especially when the errand is not part of the job description. my boss is the chief culprit and i totally hate it! arrgh!! get ur own coffee comon!….go buy ur own recharge card!…… oh some days i cld totally kill him!

    • Amara

      September 15, 2014 at 11:12 am

      hehe that coffee one ehn!!! i still do it anyway, because it would make Mr boss happy and he would teach me what i need to learn. Not doing it, or grumpily doing it would lead to a slow development rate for me at work…….Unfortunately, that’s how it is here too and one can only just go with it

    • Berry Dakara

      September 15, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      When I just started NYSC, I was warned that people might try to take advantage of me and I’d end up being the akara and bread girl. Within a couple of weeks, someone asked me to go and deposit a check into his personal account. I told him I didn’t know where the bank was. He said, “Go to the second floor – it’s there.” I replied, “I don’t know where the second floor is.”

      berrydakara.blogspot.com

    • Cee

      September 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      buy your own recharge card abi go get some bank’s mobile app since you’re forming seniority and class. Ish.

  2. adenuga busayo

    September 15, 2014 at 11:08 am

    i like this piece………it is the aspect of running helter skelter when an oga is coming……….sometimes i just wonder…………..are not your hand s clean?

  3. Babytohcute

    September 15, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Ah! Mothers. Okay let me talk for myself. Mother! I love you but ahn ahn. My mother can so send. But the annoying part is having to go to the same place so many times within a short time. If you want to send me, send me all at once. Not the one you’ll send me every 5 or 15 minutes and sometimes to the same place. Very annoying!

    • Trina

      September 15, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Your mother cannot beat mine oh.

      My dear mum can send you to bring the oxygen she will breathe into her nostrils.

      Love you mum, but we are all exhausted!!!

    • Chinwendu

      September 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      kai that’s my Mum she will be sitting right next to the remote control but cant gt it herself you have to come from the kitchen to get it for her. Chei mummy sha you have to start doing things for yourself oh at least for health sake, love you crase

    • oj

      September 17, 2014 at 9:02 am

      I love my mum but she would call you when you’re outside and when you come inside in response to her call, she ask u to give her something that’s right beside her.

  4. India

    September 15, 2014 at 11:18 am

    There is definitely an over abuse of subordinates or other people deemed ‘beneath” in Nigeria. When I’m nice to people serving me or i want to do something as little as take my own plate to the kitchen people look at me funny. I’ve definitely been on the other side of the coin too being the youngest female in the room. I had to serve everyone by order of age. Not only did i have to be quick i had to remember the order of importance. It’s a cultural thing that i always thought would continue in perpetuity it’s nice that someone is actually having a discussion about the validity of such actions. I guess it will be up the next generation to make that change.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      I think I piss off my mum’s cook whenever I visit the parentals because I’m always invading his kitchen space during the first few days of my visit. E go dey do me one kain to see a grown man carrying my plate away from the table to go and wash it so I’m all, “No thank you, don’t worry, I’ll do it myself”. And then I’ll be gently reminded by my mother that it’s his job so me doing it for him makes him feel less than adequate.

      As long as it’s part of the agreed job description, the service can be used. The problem is always the tendency to abuse the service – for instance, a Personal Assistant transitioning to your personal whipping boy/girl. Or your office admin staff becoming on-call slaves both during and outside work hours (have often seen Naija ogas and madams getting their admin staff to run errands at parties and other social events).

      With that one of “sending” younger family members, I put my hand up kwanu to declare my guilt. Not saying this by way of excusing the subjugation of others but it’s definitely a cultural thing and thankfully, my 31 yr old baby sis still dey gree make I “send” am from time to time… 🙂

  5. Ade

    September 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I feel it is FINE and OKAY, to dish out work/assignments to one’s subordinate, as long as it is within the job description but then this should also be within limit. Outside that, it should come in form of a polite request with the addressee having the liberty to honor or not.

    As for the home front, I feel it is part of our culture, to send the younger ones on errands but again and again, we should know when it amounts to excess.

    I believe the golden rule of TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WANT TO BE TREATED, should apply.

  6. Iyke

    September 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I concur!
    It’s an unsustainable social construct, fostering a culture of laziness, Jim Crow’s mentality and imbalance in the today’s growing capitalism. There is need to change the perspectives on race, culture, and community.

    • Tru

      September 15, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Gotta love your use of grammar 😀

  7. Menoword

    September 15, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I have carried bags for my former boss; not because she was my boss, but because I was brought up to collect things from my elders. As a trade off to going above and beyond my JD, I got to be mentored and treated more as a younger sister than as an employee, and it helped me grow very quickly.

    More generally though, I think that there’s a balance; and there is also a time and a place. In the work environment, it’s necessary to define what each person’s role is, and respect that. And yes, in Naija, there is a problem with crossing that line and sending people on irrelevant and random tasks that have nothing to do with their JD. However, in less formal situations, I think that it is more permissible, simply because we have a more hierarchical structure than non African countries.

    I would say, decide for yourself what you’re comfortable with. Some bosses you might find that you don’t mind doing a little extra for, because they don’t take it for granted and treat it as what it is; a favour. For some others, lines must be drawn in permanent marker and boundaries erected with brick and mortar, before you find yourself going to market to buy foodstuff or cooking their meals or something equally out of the way.

  8. Bibi

    September 15, 2014 at 11:37 am

    My dear, its a serious something. Imagine my Aunt has something in front of her in which she can just stretch her hand and get it, she then calls out to me to come and get it for her, bearing in mind, I am not in same room with her. Its so very pathetic. Lately, she tells me she is getting fat, and bcos i want to be respectful, i cant tell her she is lazy. She does it a lot, there is nobody she cant send an errand. Even if she is just meeting you for the first time.

  9. Ivy

    September 15, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I have finally come to the conclusion that being a personal assistant is not for me. Forget the when your boss is happy so are you crap….i just cannot take it anymore. I cannot keep getting blamed for everything. Biko why can”t she carry her own bag? Didn’t i carry mine from my house, at least she drove….i didn’t. Ask what she will eat for lunch, y can’t she stand up and go for lunch? I can’t leave the office if madam hasn’t left….WHY? I cannot even plan for dates or movie with the girls without praying for madam to leave early. Which kain thing be this?

    • Ivy

      September 15, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Pardon my rant….just needed to get these off my chest before i cry.

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      September 15, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Its alright, honey. Rant all you want. This outlet is specified for things like this amongst others.. Most of us go through this as well, but we would rather like others to think we are our own madams or ogas. You are honest enough to state that you don’t have that luxury and by so doing have given a voice to loads of people who are going through the same things as you but are too ashamed, guilty, or shy to say it. Salut.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Rant away, luv. This is definitely a great forum to do it in and I personally think maltreated PAs in Naija should do like their oyibo counterparts and explore the lucrativeness of writing some juicy exposé about their employers (using well-constructed pyseudonyms, of course). If properly marketed, the thing dey pay and you get to vent properly at the same time. 🙂

      [Unless you signed up to a watertight Non-Disclosure Agreement as part of your job, in which case, ignore everything I’ve just typed up there]

    • Ivy

      September 15, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      Lol. Been thinking of doing that o! But why should i kill people’s dreams because of my experience?

    • Menoword

      September 15, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      Hi Ivy, I started work as a personal assistant. The first thing my boss told me was that “if your boss isn’t happy…” line. It wasn’t fun, I didn’t always enjoy it, but girl I learned a whole lot that has stood me well in the many years since then. I think that good followers make the best leaders, and I think you’ll be an awesome leader as you continue to learn. Give yourself a set period of time to learn all that you can learn. Be the best darn PA you can be and when your time is up, move on with all the wealth of knowledge you have acquired. Pele luv, it’s not easy, but you’ll come through it

    • Ivy

      September 15, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      Amen o! Meanwhile, i hate that happy boss=happy p.a line.

    • Que

      September 15, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Sister or brother Ivy, PA work is definitely not for u…. its a ‘personal’ role as the name implies…. It is essentially a glorified help role, so the things u’ve described are not uncommon in such jobs…. I dont agree with carrying bags and waitressing family events,, but honey I dont know any PA who closes b4 their boss!.. its a long ass daily for many- cos even when u’re out the office, you probably still have assignments to handle…..its d nature of d role, difference being that in some proper organisations they are paid shit loads and the perks are mad! Even more than many bankers I know….. it is not a job for the faint hearted; and certainly should not be a long term plan…. if u can take d heat for 2yrs, u should get out after or transition to a different role… I must say though, frm a friend’s experience, being PA for the right kind of people can open career doors way quicker than melting behind some regular desks! Its your call!

    • MC

      September 15, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      A PA waitressing family events?
      huh!?

    • richbee

      September 16, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Am a PA in the oil n gas sector and I get to close before my boss most times as she is always in never ending meetings that can stretch till night and that has always been our agreement from day 1 that as long as I finish my daily tasks and not leave tasks for Monday to Tuesday..then we are good to go and have been working with her for more than 3 years.Truth be told that PA jobs can be very demeaning especially when you don’t know how to draw the lines by politely declining some absurd tasks as if you are everyone’s robot cos for me my boss doesn’t send me on demeaning tasks so why should one left leg employee think he or she can order me. PA jobs don’t enable you move up except u consciously improve yourself in other areas but if you have favour with ur boss,I tell you that God will make things happen for one.personally,am tired of the role not because my superior are intimidating me (far from it as I have a very wonderful and respectful rapport with my superiors but I don’t find it interesting and challenging again but even though am still on the lookout for a better role,I will still stick my bombom here o cos no one is making life hard for me and I ve learnt so many thingss that is outside my scope.

  10. Tinker bell

    September 15, 2014 at 11:45 am

    *yawns*

  11. great

    September 15, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Another beautiful piece from you Atoke! When I was in secondary sch, I used to get so picked on. The snrs will send me on all sorts of errands and punishments for being light skinned. It didn’t stop there .This unnecessary and outrageous wickedness did not end with the snrs. It actually started from the school authorities who insisted all snrs must be called “aunty” . So it was aunty this and aunty that!
    Infact every friday we had this routine called “manual labour” where you will be made to cut grass till your hands got sore. Such school regulations should be banned or reported to police. They only encourage more younger students to get bullied. And support harsh school regulations that impose forced labour.

    • Yes!!!

      September 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Did you attend FGGC Oyo? You just described my experience there.

  12. funbaby

    September 15, 2014 at 11:51 am

    ahhh atoke your so on point with this, when I join my organization, I was welcomed into the yes ma yes sir setting. if you become very polite and do as they say, the ogas tend to like you and treat you well, they can even go out of their way to help you however if you come with the ‘don’t send me on errand kind of attitude’, firstly it can delay your promotion, 2nd you become the most hated if there is any English like that. so I guess the best is to just be diplomatic and know how to balance yourself, its called office politics.

  13. Theresa Doghor

    September 15, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Do we have this innate culture of ‘this is how it was done to me, and I must do it to people coming after me’?

    It ‘tire’ me.
    I think it is when you feel threatened that instead of working as a team, you want to designate some peeps as ‘any work’.

    In a healthy work environment, everyone works to achieve goals. No need for schemes and scams but it is a Nigerian thing to try to sabotage people under you. I lost two atm cards and anything else that can be taken but heck, this is the professional world. It is to keep finding solutions in spite of unexpected obstacle.

    This is life nau and I am a winner already. Just to make sure I do my part and God will do his, so In spite of all, I am developing competence, professionalism and integrity cos I am going somewhere.

    • Dunni

      September 15, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      I recently joined a team of two. The boss (an old man), and then the other guy, who is supposed to be my peer. But because he’s older and more experienced, he’s supposed to supervise me till i get a hang of things. Anyways,this guy i work with treats me like his ‘any work’ , when we are supposed to work as a team. It’s so frustrating, and some days I go home crying because I am not learning anything on the job. All he makes me do are errand-like and random mundane things:( I hope someone has words of wisdom for me… and even if no one responds, it feels good to share.

    • Easy n Gentle

      September 15, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      Miss SA and Iyke, over to you two. You seem to always have something nice and mature to say. We (I) want to learn

    • slice

      September 15, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      I’m not either of those folks but here’s my two cents. first and foremost, don’t take it personal. some people are bad teachers because let’s face it, teaching is tough business. when i mentor someone, i have to let them do the work, then review the work which they likely messed up and then i fix it, that can be frustrating and thus easier to just do it yourself. but there are ways to subtly remind your teacher that you would love to be taught. One of those ways is to create a diary of accomplishments that you share with your at the end of each week. tell him that to facilitate my learning process, i’ll be keeping a diary of work done that I’ll share with you. diary is not the word but i can’t think of a better word now. also ask your boss what he or she is doing. i’m not sure how your office works but in mine, there’s always a little bit of time at the start of the day when people are grabbing coffee and just mulling around talking about the weather and yesterday’s game. at that time, ask him what he’s working on. talk about what you’re working on and how you can work on some of his stuff with him. finally, solicit the help of the older boss. tell him what you’re working on and ask for his help with adding more stuff to your plate. ie if there’s anything you’re giving Dele to work on, i could help him too so please give me some of it. that kind of stuff.

      also, you won’t like this but make sure you’re reading the writing on the wall. sometimes you get less and less stuff bc they have lost faith in you and they are just keeping you around for mundane work till they hire someone else. If that’s the case, start job hunting ASAP

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 16, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      I’m a bit late but will be cosigning with a lot of what @slice has already said.

      My remit involves managing and mentoring team members with a lesser body of experience and honestly, nothing will bring me more pleasure than watching each one grow into a full-fledged, self-supported specialist. However, I’ve often found that what I want for them and what they want for themselves can differ in great leaps and bounds. Like @slice mentioned, it is frustrating to keep correcting the same errors when you’ve taken time to explain things to the person and have to take more time away from your own busy desk to review their work and there are many times that I feel it’s more efficient to handle things myself.

      However and saying that, I always make sure that I give the trainee in question enough room to prove their willingness to grow. That’s how I grew myself and you can only learn by doing. If I perceive there’s a real desire to KNOW the job, I’m extremely happy to keep trying you out with new tasks. If I perceive you’re just taking information into one ear and it’s quickly coming out the other, I may start to think you’re only capable of handling mundane tasks.

      Pay close attention to what’s happening in the office and ask questions. More importantly, do your own research and reading (I’m not quite sure what your field is) on anything new you find out about the job so that you’re able to raise these as discussion points with your mentor and show an interest in progressing. If he loves teaching, like I do, he’ll be glad for the opportunity to impart knowledge. And the next time something comes in which touches on that topic, he may then ask if you want to get involved in the task.

      Can only think of one other reason why anyone won’t be willing to teach a mentee and that’s if the mentor’s paranoid that they may teach the student so well that the student starts gunning for their job. You really don’t want to work with people like that, in any case but while you’re there, continue to show yourself to be a useful and willing student so that by the time you eventually leave, your experience is comprehensive enough to aim for better positions somewhere else.

      Don’t cry anymore, hon, although I know it’s maddening to be treated that way. Start looking, instead, at the opportunities (especially with the firm being so small) you can get out of your time there.

    • chyla

      September 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      My Dear Dunni, i am in the same shoe with you and i am thinking of leaving the company cos i am tired of complaining

  14. TANTRA

    September 15, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    There is nothing wrong with sending someone on errands. The problem lies with the frequency and with the type of errand. I run personal errands for my boss. I am not even his secretary. One day, I asked him why he always sends me to the bank. He said it was because he trusted me, since he was busy and couldn’t do it himself. My lecturer used to send me to buy his food. I remember one day, he was pacing up and down, I bumped into him and he told me how he was waiting for me. I said, “Sir you would have sent someone else”. He said it was only me he could trust for now. I enjoyed those errands. Now, people run errands for me. Even when I don’t want them to, they always say they are comfortable running the errands.

    • lol

      September 15, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      The question is why does your boss feel a need to send you to the Bank? If he worked for an International company or travelled out of the country to work, he would have to make time to do it, the same goes for your professor, whether you are happy to do it or not is not the point, the point is why do they feel the need to have you do it when they are completely capable of doing it themselves. Again it is just like Atoke wrote, it is a mentality that just keeps circulating because we don’t see a need to stop it and that’s why you meet people at the airport screaming “You don’t know Who I am” blah blah blah!!!!

  15. Miss Pee

    September 15, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    This exactly my point, I was discussing something like this to a colleague last week Friday, I’m done with this errand this and that, I need sachet water because of my position it’s embarrassing for me to purchase it. Where I currently work, we don’t have a cleaner and then it’s expected that staff in the company do the cleaning, mind you it wasn’t stated in my appointment letter, and then you decide you want to do it, it becomes your permanent Job Description’ the day you’re just tired it’s termed you’re not doing your duties very well. Another thing Atoke please can you write about this stereotype thing where it’s termed a woman’s job to keep the office clean? Cos it happens in my office and I’m tired of men coming very early to work and waiting for the ladies to clean the office when they come, in the place where your office doesn’t have a cleaner. Thank you

    • Atoke

      September 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    • www.lifeasvira.blogspot.com

      September 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      You clean the office? I would have been fired a long time ago.

    • Miss Pee

      September 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      Nne/Nna, gi ni ka e choro kam me? meaning, what do you want me to do?
      sebi na persin wey get job plenty at dem disposal go dey do strong head, I’m fed up, when I first got the job it was for experience after NYSC, now that I’m better at what I do, it’s time to move on.
      My Boss just told me today that he won’t accept my resignation if I do, I just laffed in Ikwerre, I’ll be quitting this december, they should employ someone else that will clean and do her duties effectively. Long story for another day

    • Chima

      September 15, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      jesus!!! They expect WOMEN to clean the office?! Yeah, I definitely would have been fired long ago. But here’s the deal, draw up a schedule for public areas AND let there be a rule (everyone must follow) that they must clean up their personal space. SIMPLE.

  16. Jennifer

    September 15, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Great piece, Atoke. Reminds me of a dp I saw saying, “”You know you’re African when your mum calls you from across the house to change the TV channel when the remote is right next to her.””

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 15, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Hahahahahahaha!!! That DP is on point and my mother has got to be the greatest “work supervisor” ever. The woman can supervise labour for days… Na she go carry her leg enter her dressing room to find something, next thing your name is being called, next thing you’re moving trunks and suitcases around while she decides on a spur-of-the-moment search for other things. Next thing, the few minutes errand she promised this was going to be turns into a couple of hours of “carry this to my room, take this downstairs and leave it for Sunday to throw away, go and get me something to drink, I’m getting thirsty from all this work, didn’t you see ice to bring? Please see if there’s anything in my fridge I can snack on… oh, you said you have somewhere to go? Don’t worry, we’ll soon finish…”.

      Mumsie is a DON.

    • Chima

      September 15, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      African parents are very lazy and entitled.

    • Kili

      September 17, 2014 at 12:45 am

      Working 9-5 in a Nigerian Public Office has taught me a lot of things,adjusting has been the toughest thing to do lately. A lot of time I come off as being rude,nasty or a plain snub, as soon I figured that it wasnt the modern, fast-paced, result driven, mind-your-business,kinda enviromment; I drafted a list of DO NOTS
      1. No speaking of pidgin English (for whatever reason)
      2. No unnecessary interaction. Overfamiliarity was bringing disrespect.
      3. No discussion of/about personal life. Some people started feeling entitled to my life
      4. No idle chatter.
      5. Alway carry a book or my ipod with me.
      I remember one time when a superior told me to go wash kolanut for him I gave him all the flimsiest excuses I could find till he was tired, got up to wash it himself ( Ta lo raiye osi) .
      I have also heard funny and unbelievable advice on marriage e.g hide money from your husband, marriage is about endurance, a man must cheat or it’s ok for a man to cheat) which I totally I dont believe. So I have politey but firmly warned that I do not need anyone’s advice and that I know where to look if I ever need some which in turn has turned me into a rebel but really I dont care.We must be careful when we work in organization where there is no proper structure, we owe that to ourselves.

  17. May

    September 15, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I worked briefly at a public hospital laboratory. Every thing was cool until one of my bosses brought boiled corn and coconut to the office. After offering me a couple of times and I refused he insisted I had one. Which I kindly obliged. 10mins later, the corn and cocnut was finished, he stretches out 200bucks to me and asks me to go buy him more corn and coconut down the road. I looked him straight in d eye and said sorry sir, I can’t go. 3hrs later I met him @ the corn spot @ the end of work and we chatted for a bit, he even paid for my corn n cocnut then I drove off. From that day He never even asked me to go to the store to bring him a new set of Petri dishes again.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 15, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Correct babe. 🙂

  18. nammy

    September 15, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    D culture of asking younger ones to run errands for u within d family setting is perfectly ok to me but it shouldn’t b abused, but for the office, I hav issues with running errands that r not office related, oga is coming in, run and collect his bag, phone, car keys, carry him on ur shoulders. I think it has to do with our orientation, some pple r ever willing to run errands so as to curry favour nd d bosses r ever willing to use them, it’s d way u present urself that’ll determine if ul b respected or not(if u turn urself to sugar, they’ll lick u finish-Mama Isio). If I am called upon to do anything outside office duties and I refuse nd my dumb colleagues r asking me” how can u say no” I’ll ask them to show me where it is written in civil service rules that I shld carry my boss bag or such similar stuffs.

  19. di

    September 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Thank You oh Atoks! i remember when i interned with a certain Nigerian bank, whenever we went out for presentations… myself and my colleague (two beautiful young ladies o!) na so we go carry laptop plus projector plus ‘Ogas bag’ etc while our MALE Ogas will be strutting along in their suits!!! it wasnt until i joined another oyibo led organisation that i realised that you dont have to carry anybodys bag to show respect! even the oga pata pata Oyibo man sef will carry watever load he has to his office BY HIMSELF even if his office is on the 5th floor! And the way the men respect ladies ehn…they will hold a door open for you even if u were fifty yards away!..in fact ehn i just tire for some certain kinds of naija mentality…nuff said.

  20. Abimbola

    September 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    My sister should read this, really. She can send a foetus on an errand yet at d end of d whole thing she tells everyone ard her she’s tired as if she did all the job.it’s wrong, like seriously

  21. di

    September 15, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    one more thing…my sis once came home one evening and gisted us how the MADAM in her office ordered a certain cleaner to get a bucket of water to flush the toilet for her after she used it since water wasnt running in the restroom…………i still keep trying to imagine wat would have been going on in that cleaners mind…mehn me i no go fit o!

  22. www.eniwealth79.blogspot.com

    September 15, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    If I start, I no go finish today. Is it about being called on the phone from the sitting room to go and on the gen since Soliu* got fed up of being sent mundane errands outside his job description? To come and open the gate while my aunty is seated by it? To come and dish food that I’ve suffered so much to cook and packed neatly in her food flask on the dinning table? The most annoying is to come and help bring the remote when you’re seated just at a arms length away from it!

    • Kili

      September 17, 2014 at 12:55 am

      The cooking and serving part used to drive me nuts.
      My mum couldn’t be bothered but my dad made me do that for my brothers and I so hated it. I mean how would I slave in the kitchen to cook and put it away in the food pack and then wait on you (or keep asking ) to let me know when you were ready to eat. Anyways, the results are showing my brothers cant cook to save their lives. Only one has moved out due to the nature of his job.
      But the 2 are still in. One is 30 the other is 36. I pity their wives evenmy mum does too lool. Good riddance

    • cledges

      October 1, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Ur Papa no try at all. Dish gini, for what na.

  23. beautifulonyinye

    September 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    This is a nice article.I’m a house officer and some of my senior colleagues are just irritating,the example you gave is just a small part of it.My colleagues and I have started fighting back by;1)Collect the money to get whatever esp food and don’t just go and return the money with a good excuse hours later.2)Blatantly refuse to go on the errand saying ‘it’s not by job description'(Only the very ‘minded’ pull this off though).For some reason though,they don’t send me,maybe because I’m on the big side or because I’m married.Dunno the reason but it’s great to be exempted from such stupid errands.

  24. www.lifeasvira.blogspot.com

    September 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I can send! But only my younger ones and I always give them some sort of bribe cz I know how much I hated to be sent on errands when I was younger.

  25. Que

    September 15, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    I believe it is fair to expect to be used (including errands) at different points and places in life generally, that’s if you expect to depend on others when d need arises……my issue is with the ‘abuse’ which society has accepted as tradition!

    As a coworker you will know some errands are necessary given the scenario and even if its outside your job description, it will serve you well to extend yourself occasionally if for nothing else, to have allies… Only a minute number will occupy lead roles, or even lead well by sticking sstrictly to their job description… doing that largely means the company’s welfare doesnt matter to you… We cant possibly analyse every single scenario, thats why its a personal judgement call…. so sometimes I will give in, and others I will resist- (like if I realise you’re playing the age card/feeling unnecessarily entitled or just being lazy…then no!)

    Back in d day, one time, my senior colleague, who has never even been friendly with me, wakes up n decides that I should use my lunch hour to go hunt, buy n bring her fish frm a particular place…. so I went out, had lunch, honestly chekd for d fish, realised the money she gave was short of N10 (wch most people would’ve just topped up), and I returned money in hand with no fish, after break was over. she was beyond stunned when I explained with a straight face n dropped d money n moved to my desk sharply….needless to say noone ever sent me yeye msg again!. The same set of people may send me to clients or to grab files and even handle some of their tasks, and I’ll do it…..But I set the tone for the type of errands I will not be doing cos of how I had seen it play out for colleagues at my level.

    Now if as colleagues, we are friendly, I may be inclined to do some crayfish waka for you depending on the day. What I absolutely hate is colleagues and older strangers in wider society automatically assuming I’m their younger sibbling cos I’m younger or in a junior role; and the assuming such liberties to be their entitlements…. honeyyy….u will sleep on a bicycle with me o!

  26. lol

    September 15, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    It all makes sense why there is a sense of entitlement with many Nigerians…many!!! I even see it with Nigerians that have left the country, I worked with someone for a short while with my company but since moved up this dude because he is older than me expects me to just make them promote him without any and I mean any effort from him just because he is older than I am, says it is respect. I also struggle with this when I visit my parents when driver or helps want to help me with my bag when I insist that I can do it myself, this people actually take offense that I don’t like them. I mean this people are grown, some have kids my age. Why in heaven’s name do I want you carrying my bag, food or cleaning my dishes???? Even the young ones that will be calling you “aunty” Aunty gini??? I got my hands and feet, not ill. My mum brought us up not to sit at the back when driver is driving or expect anything from the help but suddenly we are grown she expects us to allow it and say we need to learn to adjust. But how do we balance all of this and make this people also see that it is ok to let your boss or someone you consider your superior do things on their own? and does not have to translate to me not liking you or in any way mean that you are incompetent.

  27. Flames

    September 15, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Sending ‘subordinates’ on errands is a culture in Nigeria. Like pple c it as dia God given ryt 2 send dia juniors on errands dat wen u refuse, dey’re so horrified dat u would dare 2 refuse like its 1 of d mortal sins 2 politely tell some1 dat u cnt do somtin dat dey’ve asked u 2 do even if u have a valid excuse.

    N I also tink its d ” it was done 2 me so I have 2 do it 2 odas” mentality. I 1ce asked 1 of my aunts y she’s always sending sombody on all of dem errands(like she’ll wnt 2 cook n she’ll call u 2 prepare everytin 4 her, den her job is nw 2 put d ingredients in d pot wen d tym comes or she’ll b in d sitting room n som1 will knock on d door n she’ll call u dats inside d room 2 com n open d door) n she told me dat she did it so she doesn’t c y nw its her turn her juniors wnt do it

    Dnt even get me started on d 1 wia 2 aunties will send u on diff errands n dey’ll start doing game of thrones on top ur head. 1 will b like “I’m older dan she is so u have 2 do mine 1st” n d oda will b like “try me nw n u’ll c wat I’ll do 2 u”. Dey dnt even care dat u’re nt interested in dia quest 4 power 😐

  28. Oluwabee

    September 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Atoke God bless you! Atoke God bless you again! Atoke GOd blessssssss You again!

    I am at a breaking point right now at my job on this same issue.

    So I say one more time God bless you!

    I am the secretary, but the truth is I am 20% secretary and 80% messenger at my office but secretary is d lowest rank available. My office is a small cubicle office tho, but sometimes I wish i could just do something about it. So everyone at work is my boss tho i have d small bosses and the big boss.

    The big boss calls on his way to the office and he calls in “buy food for me” or he enters the office and the first question is, “A ni jeun leni ni?” ( Wont we eat today?) And d small bosses? na wa for their own. They call from the road or from their houses sef “buy food for me”. Its only when he wants to buy N500 or 1k recharge card he goes himself, but if its N200 or N100 i go to get it. if gen goes off i have able bodied males boss who seats with his legs on his table as he facebooks away while d macho plumply girlie me goes to put d gen on (no kick start o, u must pull d rope, put fuel, check oil etc), Buy food , sweep floor, wash toilet, wash late etc. and on some annoying days someone goes into the toilet and goes “this toilet is dirty o wen last did u wash it, or dis plate u washed is not clean or, wen last did u mop this floor”.

    The list is endless. They claim we are family, and i must confess as i get these on this side i also get d good side too. U need sch fee? I’ll pay; u need laptop? i have an old one take; has she finished paying her loan? dont worry write it off; take for the wikend.

    So i really cant complain! but i can, can i?

    But i plan on doing some shocking things soon!

    • hi

      September 15, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Be careful

    • Chima

      September 15, 2014 at 10:33 pm

      You want to reap the house girl benefits but don’t want to do the work. Reason why oyibo ppl don’t do the sending is to reduce unnecessary familiarity with their staff. So it works, you don;t see an American secretary going to beg for money from their boss. If you want to be treated better, you’ve to communicate better.

    • slice

      September 16, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      you are absolutely right. the exact reason you can talk about school fees at work is cause they’ve sent you to buy corn and clean up. you best continue to do those things very happily sef for now so you can get the benefits you’re getting. the people that can legitimately complain are those doing “househelp” work without getting the benefits. you better don’t complain before they start holding onto their change.

  29. Personal Assistant

    September 15, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Ivy I share your pains. If we swap jobs, your madam wont last one week with me. She will think twice before vexing at work. Sometimes we should lay down some (silent) rules before things get out of hand because na as you take put body for ground person go know how to take send you message. I see no reason why a madams would send an assistant to the market to buy fish. seriously FISH. Assistant will enter public transport to buy fish for Madam.That is wickedness. In all my personal assistant glory, i will start pricing fish in the market???? Na dat day the person go chop fish reach. It is in this same office a madam sends a secretary to Jankara market to buy God-knows-what. I hardly send people on errands so I dont expect anybody to send me.
    I am a PA but my oga dey select message wey e dey send me and na with better abeg and driver too.
    As for family errands, if you are not my mum (her errand comes just as ur butt touches the sofa to watch TV), then pray I am in a good mood to help you out. I no be slave at all.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 15, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      I repeat. You PA’s need to do a “warts-and-all-expose”. Imagine what juicy details might be revealed… hehehehe

  30. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    September 15, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    No one likes to be sent on errands. When we go, it is usually out of a sense of respect, to fulfill an obligation, future benefits, to avoid strife or because we are afraid to stand up for ourselves.

  31. you

    September 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    my mum is the oga of dem all and she has 6 childen so enuf messangers. Sometimes I tell her shes just being lazy, but she ll say dats why I have plenty children u 2 born ur own, even up to flushing d toilet. I tire for dat woman,tank God she married my dad, if not

  32. Shady

    September 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Nice write up. Actually read all the comments. The truth is that when it comes to work errands, it depends on your Boss and as you arrange (present) yourself. When i started out in my career, i stared as a PA to a lady – a rich one at that. She would never ask me to make her tea or wash her mug. She will come in, boil her water, make her tea and clean up after herself. She will leave her office, carry her plate to the kitchen and wash. She tells us that the cleaner’s job is not to wash our plates, so everyone should do their dishes after eating. I really respect her for that. One would have thought she would act otherwise.

    If there is one thing i have learnt from her, it is that your job is your job. Even to send me lunch which is even once in a while, she will beg and plead and explain why she cannot step out for lunch or send her driver….. She has never kept me to work late. Even if she is, she will tell me i can go once i am ready as long as i do not have anything to do for her. From that position, today, i have risen and given the opportunity for career development and not head a dept in the organization. It really depend son who you are dealing with.

    One day we went for an event and a university student who thought collecting her handbag was a sign of respect was shocked. She was like, i am not an old lady, why are you collecting it from me – i have my hands. I pitied the girl ( lol )cos she was shocked and just stood there with her hand still stretched out.

    I went to my husband’s office one day and the gateman was like madam welcome, please bring your bag- i said no and he insisted almost cutting my bag o. I refused and told him it was not his job to collect bags from people.

  33. Onye

    September 15, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Not just naija o! Even na UK. My boss makes me go and buy his lunch for him. In naija I would not do that but yeah in UK, I’m finding myself doing things that are not even in my job description. Wait until they sign me off, when I’ll insult this man eh

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      I’m curious, where do you work?

    • Hairmillionaire

      September 21, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      LOL, me too I’m curious? Where do you work? LOL!

  34. Oreke

    September 15, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Atoke thank u o dahz d way my boss turned me from an IT student to free help_buh to confess sha I do it for my aburos too. Thanks for d enlightening tho

  35. Ivy

    September 15, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Jeez! Its so annoying ehhhh. & the ex p.a’s make it seem like its the right thing to do. Biko, i cannot fit. I don’t want this kind of development biko. Which door will open? God alone opens doors, He uses man to open doors and i have an extremely bright future ahead of me. Forget, p.a job pushes u. It sort of reminds me of devil wears prada….how “a million girls will die for the job” but her happiness was important and so is mine. The work i was doing in my former office was way more than this and very enlightening…it helped me grow. Not this one i’m ordering food. I gats get that Sapetro, Mobil, Total or Addax job o!

  36. Woah-naija

    September 15, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    A girl called Dee resumed work at a telecommunications firm in the VI area as a Business Analyst..

    On her first, second and third day, nobody assigned her any work, not even her manager. She shared an office with the other HR staff while her manager had his own office next door. She decided to read the company’s website, arrange her desk, help with any small tasks she could, but she was generally idle.

    On the fourth day, she was reading the company newsletter to update herself on happenings, when the manager poked his head through the office door and saw her: “Oh, so you are idle, eh? Ok go to Tantalizers and get me a Tanta-roll.” One Tanta-roll.

    She had a car, but it was around the lunch rush-hour where there was bound to be loads of traffic.

    As if he read her mind, he said “Take an okada. Be back here on time, because I don’t want the office empty.”

    She was not thrilled at being “messaged” but she thought to herself: it is alright, it is just like a coffee run. Interns and new staff do coffee runs at times.

    Well that is what she thought.

    The next day her boss sent her to get more Tanta-roll.

    Then it became a daily ritual to send her at 12 noon to get all kinds of bites from eateries far and wide, from Tanta-rolls to meat-pies, yam pottage, egg rolls, beans, bread etc. Soon everyone in the office was also chipping their money once it was 12 to send her to Tantalizers.

    She once stained herself with a large “map of Nigeria’ red stain on her crisp white shirt from palm oil leakage while juggling takeaway packs of yam-pottage and other Tantalizing foods, and trying to hold on for her dear-life on a speeding okada.

    It was like the boss was saying – I know you can create business process maps, pivot tables and are proficient with Microsoft Office, but can you buy lunch for the whole office with similar skill and dexterity

    That was the last straw – she devised a plot to go to the loo once it became 11.45 and stay there till way past 12 noon. After then, she would come to the office, grab her jacket and announce that she was off for lunch.

    She did this for like 3 days in a row, before she noticed that her boss had now assigned a new chap doing his NYSC attachment to do the “Tanta runs” instead.

    On the 4th day, her manager put his head through the office door at 11.40am and said “Dee, bring a laptop in tomorrow, we are going out for a meeting with a client at Ikoyi Hotel.”

    These are little examples, but I am sure that everyone has had some kind of experience. There are certain people in this country who due to cultural influences, believes that a boss, particularly for certain industries, has to be unapproachable, authoritarian and aloof. It is the same kind of people who call the bad guy in the movies “the boss” and believe an office manager just has to be like them.

  37. Personal Assistant

    September 15, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    PAs can’t tell it all oh especially if you had to sign some form of confidentiality stuff. But then I think one should learn to say no to some errands assertively. If u send me to buy you crocker fish, I will buy you crayfish and if u send me tomatoes I will buy onions. Send me to the dry cleaners I go help u go tailor to adjust the size of the garment and open my big innocent eyes for you when yawa gas. Message wey my mama no send me, stranger no go try am.

  38. babygiwa

    September 15, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Ahhhh, is this what i’ll face at work? Nysc is a matter of months too. Not fair tho, me I can’t come and turn to house help for any oga o. I can help you fine but don’t abuse it

  39. MO

    September 15, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Hehehe…., i can totally relate to that of the workplace. I had this experience when i did my undergraduate internship at one of those pretty large companies with tons of departments in Lagos. I started off at a section called Reconcilliation, all i had to was filing, registering receipts, and most definitely, running errands. It didn’t take long before i got bored as i was constantly at the beck and call of about nine persons. “Hey MO! Get the document i sent to the printer(sometimes as far as the next office when ours fails to do the job); then i’d mutter angrily underneath my breath, “You sent it, why not go get it? The ladies were the most annoying as they would just sit at a spot and almost expect you to bring the rest-room to their station.
    All because i was an intern, Hian!!!

    Being a good girl that i am, i did all that thinking it would attract some favours, and i’ll be opened to different tutoring from at least some of them. But i was soon to realise that it held no such promises for me.
    I made a change and interned happily ever after. *smiles*

  40. Ololajulo

    September 15, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    That isn’t assertive, it is passive aggressive.

  41. AY

    September 16, 2014 at 12:54 am

    This is one topic, that’s gets me off most times. I’m the last born in my house, so I know what it feels like to be enslaved technically.
    It’s just one of those mentally unsanitary attitudes Nigerians posses, maybe out of our tradition of helping elderly people but it has been blown out of context, where by the minutes some individuals know they’re superior to you (Age-wise or position) it’s expected that you should meet their every need whether its necessary, convenient or otherwise. Such slavery is a bit acceptable, coming from your parents but when it happens within a working environment is what kills me. I can’t understand why an employee would be sent to get food and what not, please this should stop, it’s an unhealthy practice.
    I once heard such a ridiculous story from a relative, under going his IT, I mean IT and all they did was run errands, please when did errands become part of IT. It got to a point, of one then had to speak up and behold the so-called seniors in the office, we’re complaining like errands are truly part of the IT process.
    Lastly I’ve an 87 year old in my house, who does all she wants herself, even if you’re right beside her, she wouldn’t bother you. I mean she cleans her room and bathroom every morning herself, without any help whatsoever and washes her clothes and plate when she done with them, this is not due to the fact that there’s is no help, no we have a maid and a laundry guy, who even makes use of the washing machine but grandma prefer to get it done herself, that’s why I see no reason why, an able bodied individual in his or her late 30’s or early 40’s can’t do stuff on their own.

  42. yeokunrin

    September 16, 2014 at 8:37 am

    The devil wears prada

  43. FO

    September 16, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Hi dear, I’ve been there, done that and dint buy the T.Shirt. I was an EA for 3 months before resigning the job. My simple advice, if you can’t take it any more, please leave. As a PA you practically have no life of your own, your entire life is centered around your madam. Biko, this is YOUR life, LIVE it!

  44. Ayoola

    September 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I have never seen where someone is used more than a maid in my life until I started my internship.Those residents/senior residents can send house officers …Kai. Talk about a resident sending a house officer to get a take away from tantalizers and still wanted the house officer to buy meat on the food with her own money..OYO lo wa o.
    My father is the chief sender of our house.it’s that bad that we always run into hiding whenever he’s home.He claims the reason why he asked God for us is for him to be able to send us on errands.
    A lot of people don’t know how to use the word ‘please’ and thank you,that’s why it sounds rude when someone sends the subordinate or colleagues on errands.

  45. Hadassah

    September 16, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    As much as this is concurrent in most of our Naija organisations, I believe your carriage is important.
    Then as a 19year old intern in a Naija owned organisation, they havent *born* the person that will send me to buy Amala… Trust me I was the friendliest of all but I just drew that line in my head. Initially, it wasnt easy oooo… all those married aunties swore to deal with me. i got this *who-do-you-think-you-are* looks; but hey i took my stand and I found other ways to compensate such as being excellent at my job and being a listening ear… #Charlz-B things
    Like I would gladly help pick out gifts or give ideas about events to my bosses, i read a lot..know a lot.. sometimes i allow them tap from my brain….
    imagine after having such a productive brain-storming session where I gave solid suggestions… the last thing on your mind would be *hey-come-go-and-buy-me-purewater/alaboku/park & shop rice.
    The hate gradually turned to mutual respect and friendship..years later some have my bosses have been instrumental in my career growth
    I just believe that in any situation…. state your stance without being rude and look for other avenues where you can compensate your-refusal-to-buy-amala (or whatever it is)-shortcomings
    Finally, dont start what you cannot finish… The moment you start the *unnecessary* errands, omo you have added another role to your job-description. Them go use you finish.

  46. ayanfe

    September 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    My sis calls me her PA cos she can fit send me ANYTHING… If possible, she fit say make i wash her bumbum…lol… I can go on errands ooo for correct people and trust me, i know where to draw d lines for yamayama people. There are some that will so send you and yet they can not do 1kobo favour for u. As much as i can go on errands, i really dont like to over use my subordinates by sending them on plenty errands. I do the “extra” for my ogas cos dem be correct people!

  47. e don do

    September 28, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    i think my mom wins.. my mother will not even call u.. she will send u a text, whatsapp msg or even flash u just to get d remote that is ryt next to her.. as long as she doesnt hv to strain her voice calling ur name.. she is good

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