This is a tale of a young professional who finds real professional life completely different from what is perceived during one’s time in school. You deal with it to turn your situation around or resign to your fate.
Mawuli is up at 4am and rushes through shower, throws on an already ironed shirt from his wardrobe and fits them on with pants from the previous day.
He is already used to the journey to the bus (trotro) station, since the stroll gives him time to walk off his sleep completely.
By quarter past five, he takes his place in the queue of commuters headed for Accra.
With his blue handkerchief, he dubs wet patches off his forehead.
As he loses himself in imagination, he gets a hard shove on the neck. He almost returns this gesture with a slap before he realizes it is a bigger fight than one he wants to involve himself in. It’s a scramble over who owns the 56th position in the infinite queue –the third time this week.
It only takes time, but soon Mawuli gets on a bus.
The frustration caused by vehicular traffic on the Spintex Road is nothing compared to the heat and varying breaths he has to endure (if you know what I mean).
So he cuts out reality and drifts back into dreamland. But this is short-lived; rising voices bring him to consciousness.
“Ooh no! Driver, don’t mind him. Young men think they can bully you when they have flashy cars”, one older commuter yells out.
A scuffle between the bus driver and his conductor on one hand, and the three occupants of a sleek-looking Toyota Camry that has been scratched on another hand. Occupants of the bus withdraw support for the now terrified tro-tro driver. The confidence the young owner of a Camry exudes as he maintains, “I will ensure you rot in jail”, gets them to realise it is a lost battle. Mawuli is outraged at the length of time spent on the brawl. The new struggle is one over grabbing a seat on passing by buses.
Dripping wet and refusing to lose his composure, Mawuli signs in at one of the Ministries’ Departments for work at 9am (obviously late) and excuses himself in search of some good breakfast. Waakye usually does it for him and this morning would not be an exception.
It’s 10am before he gets to his desk, now rushing through paper work because he met ‘the boss’ on his way in.
Not long after sorting a few documents out, he heads out for lunch. “Another queue”, he sighs and takes his place. A good conversation over fufu with ‘goat light soup’ is just right with other employees in the canteen.
Work continues late at 15mins to 2pm until 3pm when noise on the corridors cannot be ignored. A group of older women accompanied by younger ladies head for the building’s reception amidst loud laughs because they take interest in the Telenovela Series running on a local television station. It is a daily ritual.
“This destruction they cause us needs to stop sometime”, Mawuli voices his displeasure to a colleague. In response, this colleague, Nathan, says, “Let them be. The company does not belong to their families. They should have rest while they can”.
Thinking through his career journey, he shakes his head. He had dreams… big dreams, back in the University. He had hoped to practise civil engineering, in a big corporation that gave him financial security and fulfilment, and perhaps a permanent girlfriend he could cater for. Instead, he finds himself in the corner of this office (he takes a look around the poorly ventilated room with broken down air-conditioning) sorting out paper work in State agency four year on.
It seems to him that one’s zeal to give off their best at a career is often plagued with societal obstructions and institutional loose-knots.
Before 4:30pm, employees are headed out of the building, only two hours after their bosses take the lead.
Mawuli is lucky to get to the lorry park before the queue to Spintex gets long and winding. It’s another journey through traffic, sweat and tooting from vehicle. A long doze later, he is back home, tired, sweaty and sleepy.
This may seem like just another story, but to thousands of young professionals trying to make a better life for themselves, this is the daily routine. Hopefully such dreams manifest for Mawuli and all like him with devotion and passion for change where they find themselves.
How do you alter bring positive change to your career and life in a situation like this?