“I just think a hustler’s ambition is that I never stop. I started off hustling and said I’ll never stop hustling. An ambitious hustler is the one to hustle the hustlers. When I grew up, my heroes were hustlers. Now, I’m their hero” – Young Jeezy

“Guys who might not be superstars but because of their hustle, because of the little things they do, these are the guys who can really mean the difference between winning and losing” – Dwayne Wade

“What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle and giving 110% all the time” – Don Zimmer

 

What is the slum without dope, what is politics without brainwashing, what is a star when the most important fan is missing? And what is a Nigerian hustler without HOPE?

It was a sunny Friday afternoon and staying idle in the hospital wasn’t what I needed at that moment. Patients no gree come again o. I’d have to include that in my morning devotion tomorrow: “Lord, the omnipotent and omniscient. Please, bring more patients to us o. Abeg!” And I believe my prayers would be answered. Lol! Just kidding o. God, abeg heal everyone of their diseases. But come to think of it; if people don’t fall sick anymore, what would become of the medical personnel and pastors? Na pastors I dey pity pass sef. At least, doctor fit enter inside bus begin sell paracetamol, mentholin and all those other drugs they sell inside buses. Alright, pardon me, I am digressing. I keep digressing all the time. No vex joor.

On this fateful day, there was power failure, the generator set was faulty, no patients coming in (yeah, I’ve mentioned that before), no calls from any loved ones…absolutely nothing wonderful was happening. I suddenly remembered I had a mid-day appointment at the car park with a prospective client who looks rather too young to be the chairman of the Drivers’ Association. One could feel the pride bursting out of his chest whenever he mentioned his position to anyone. Now that was my side hustle!

I picked up the materials I would need, packed them into my bag and headed straight for the door. On opening it, I looked casually in the receptionist’s direction. Lisa, hair-combed neatly and dutifully (plus gorgeously) dressed was standing with arms akimbo, as if lost in her own thoughts. Lord, forgive me for the thoughts that flashed across my mind at that instant! As a young man in an unfamiliar land, I’ve been trying to learn a few phrases in her local dialect and probably use them as ‘pick-up lines’ on her someday. I guess it would make a perfect start for the dating game. But I’ve heard it times without number that office games just don’t work out perfectly, so I swept the thought off my mind. Plus juju full this area…so my hand no dey o. I’ve even improved on my record in attending church service so as to get extra spiritual protection. Pamurogo!

About thirty minutes later, I arrived at the park. Hurriedly, I drove my car forward, taking care to move as far away as possible from some mean-looking guys who could be touts or bullies for all I care. My thoughts suddenly got disrupted by a tap on my window. I peered over my shoulders to behold the sight of a sickly-looking kid (about five years old, I guess). Before I could say ‘geez‘, she started gushing out her well memorized lines: “Oga, God bless you, anywhere you go, God go guide you, only give me money to chop”. As she was speaking, she was gesturing towards her mouth and then made invisible circular patterns on her tummy, depicting the rumbling of the stomach. As I made to bring out a few bucks (for her) from my pocket, she started rubbing the side of her head, as if rubbing a magic lamp and hoping that a genie would spring out of her temporal lobe, so she could make a wish for more cash. On receiving the money, she said to my surprise, “Oga, thank you, but this small money no go do anything for me”. And with that, she ran away into the crowd.

Totally amazed at her reply (because I thought a beggar had no choice), I locked the door and turned around to behold a lot of people. Everyone was busy doing whatever they liked. On the left side, a dusky man was wriggling a leather belt he was holding with his two hands and shouting on top of his voice: “Original kpomo leather with nafdac number, guaranteed till eternity, only N700 …” On the other end of the lane, a young man kept nodding his head in artistic agreement to the sound track of a popular hip-hop song. The sleeveless shirt he was wearing revealed a tattoo of a spider on his left arm. Two other guys (probably his friends) were behind him free-styling to the beats of the track, expecting someone to drop a tip for them. Or do they expect a scout for Chocolate City, Kennis Music or Mavin Records to be out there in the park at that time of the day?

On passing an autobus already filled with people, I saw a ‘blind’ young man (probably in his early 20’s) coming towards the bus, with a younger boy holding his hand to direct him. On reaching the bus, he started off with a melodious gospel song that would make even Hitler to empty his pockets into his collecting tray. After singing the hymn, he started pouring out a well memorized collection of sentences, pleading with everyone to help him out. Within twenty minutes, his ‘sojourn’ was over (with enough cash that could last for a whole week). Wow! Nice marketing strategy. I watched the young man walk away, wondering whether he couldn’t do something better and more useful. Surprisingly, I received the greatest shocker of my life. Or was I dreaming? I rubbed my face to make sure I wasn’t. The ‘blind’ man was sitting in a concealed store, with his two eyes wide open, counting the money he had just collected. GEEZ! Anyway, it wasn’t any of my damn business so I went my way.

I was suddenly interrupted by a huge and bulky guy, who opens the carton he was carrying to expose the contents. “Oga, buy better CDs here”, he exclaimed. I didn’t want to wave him off boorishly so I decided to do it in a more interesting (and polite) way. “Okay, do you have Metallica”, I enquired. “You say ‘Make I like am’, sir”, he replied. “Metallica”, I shot back. After some moments of careful contemplation, he said, “Sorry sir, I just sold the last one two days ago”. (That was another way of telling me he didn’t have the CD). And with that, I took my leave and he walks away hastily.

Beside me, an elderly man (with his hands full of books) was shouting: “Buy books on current affairs, know your senators and representatives, the local government areas, the first female speaker in the country, the first female governor, the rivers in your country…” And the cycle went on and on.

All these activities sum up to hustling. Hustling is never a bad thing to do. But Lord, have mercy! People could do things with shades of deceit in order to make money. That’s the result of the harsh economic situations in the nation. Or is that really the cause? Well, I guess some people wouldn’t even think about the corporate way of making cool cash. They prefer it on the outside, where they would run around in faded pairs of jean and tight-fitting shirts.

In a nation were hardships abound and take home salary is not even enough to buy food for the pets, not to talk of feeding the kids, it is pertinent for individuals to have a side hustle. It could be bead making, rearing chicken or even car washing. Whether corporate or not, we all hustle to make a living. After all, I came to see a client in the park. (That also, is hustling). And I must finish on time to be able to attend the bar mitzvah being organized by a friend of mine for his son. Yes, I’ve got Jewish friends so I guess that makes me a Jew man. Probably, I might get to meet a few people that could part with a few cash without batting an eyelid at the event.

And always remember: While hustling, don’t let setbacks break your strides. Peace out!

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