Nigerians Hustlers & ‘Don’t Teach Me My Job’ Culture

Nigerians are hustlers, bloody hustlers! We can make money out of virtually anything and go hard at it. If that isn’t something, I don’t know what is.

There are different kinds of hustles in these streets. Some are certified with big degrees, some talents, some training and there are those by chance and constant practice but you see, there is one thing all these have in common, ‘don’t worry, I know best, 'do not teach me my job’ culture.


When people patronize our services, most of us don’t want it to appear even in the vaguest way like they know better about the hustle than we do even when they actually do. We don’t even want it to appear like they know anything about it at all.

You go the hospital and the doctor writes you some prescriptions. To be very sure, you tell him that the drug at the top of the list made your brother itch all over and you hope that won’t be the case with you. He gives you the overpowering ‘don’t teach me my job’ look and continues like you didn’t say a word or if he is in a good mood, he says something dismissive like, ‘madam please go and get the drugs’.

It’s your birthday and you go to a photographer for a shoot. Everything goes fine. You get home and remember you forgot to mention something so you quickly send him a message on WhatsApp. ‘Please easy on the edits. I don’t want my legs to look unnatural’. He reads your message and doesn’t acknowledge or even reply, the ‘don’t teach me my job’ thingy.


You send your designer a picture from his collection, ‘I want this shirt,’ you say. ‘Will it be available by next week?’ He assures you it will and you pay him. You pick your order a week later than he said it’d come and it’s a different shirt, howbeit lovely. You call him and complain and he says with a confident voice, ‘That one is better. It will fit you more.’ Bitch, was that the agreement? Of course, it wasn’t but it’s what the ‘I know best’ voice in his head says. C’mon now, do not attempt to teach him his job!

You give the tailor your fabric and tell her, ‘please I want a straight cut skirt. Nothing fancy at all, just a straight cut skirt,’ You return in four days’ time and a straight cut skirt with darts is staring at you. ‘But ma, I said just straight cut na.’ ‘I know, I know, but you know say you no get nyash, the darts go give you shape.’ Wait a sec. Were you hoping to teach Iya Bisi in Yaba her job? You asked her for straight cut and she’s giving you something even better. How dare you even complain? What do you know about tailoring? She’s been in the business for ten years!

Ugh!

Truth is, the clients’ fears, the concerns they expressed at first (but you ignored because you know best and don't want to be thought your job) always happens and you make a last-minute rush to save the day. Something that would have been averted had you not ‘known best’. Had you let them ‘teach you your job,’ even if it’s for a second.

The doctor’s prescription gives the patient rashes. Her legs look super unreal and unnatural in her birthday pictures. Even though the shirt from his designer is lovely, he hates how it looks on him, and the skirt with the darts the tailor made for her makes her look plain stupid.

Dear Nigerian hustlers, more than your skills, more than your experience, more than what you think you know, more than what you think comes naturally to you, it’s important to calm down and listen to your clients, especially when they are paying you to get the job. It doesn’t make you less knowledgeable, it’s ironically wisdom. They make a lot more sense than you think and that’s probably making a bunch of you insecure.

Your clients know what they want and even if you have an idea of what you think is the best, (which most probably is), they want what they want and they are paying you for it. It makes the work easier for you both. That’s the major problem with hustlers we have in Nigeria!

If you can fix this, you can fix everything.
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