VOCATIONAL TRIVIA…THE AMBIDEXTROUS BUS CONDUCTOR A.K.A, THE TROTRO MATE.

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Ever wondered why some Bus Conductors or Trotro Mates are always at logger-heads with passengers? Ever wondered how these “mates” go about their work and the conditions under which they work?

Correct me if I am wrong but I believed a Bus Conductor’s job is one of the most under-estimated jobs in the country. This is due to the nature of the work and their physical appearance whiles on duty.

Some “mates” can wear one shirt unwashed for more than three days while still working and most do not take their baths in the morning and the stench from their armpits is extended trhough the whole day until their retire to their homes. When you confront them on this unhygienic practice, the excuse they give is that they always have to wake up early before the sun is out and work starts immediately. This means, you do not get enough time to take a bath or even brush your teeth. Make your own judgement on this excuse.

Some of these mates also have very nasty attitudes. Some are very rude when talking to passengers and others go to the extent of fighting with passengers over lousy reasons like coins and whether there is a bust stop or not.

But hang on, have you for once overlooked how annoying these mates can be in order to look at their humanness from a different respective? I am not holding brief for them but let us take a look at some of the adventures and conditions under which they work.

STRESS AND OVERTIME….
You cannot underestimate how stressful the work of a mate is. Some have to wake up as early as 2 am , yes, at dawn. They wash the bus or van before their master wakes up. They sometimes make sure the car is in good condition for the day’s operation. Work starts immediately and they can run through the day till about 10 pm, yes, in the late hours of the night, before they can retire to bed or to other domestic businesses. If the master or driver does not have another mate to run a shift system, then at 2 am again, the hustle begins. There is stress in waking up early to work and sleeping late after working long hours. Medical and Psychological Scientists have reminded us over and over again that stress has a toll on our physical bodies as well as our brains, which affect our attitude. So you see, some of the nasty attitudes of mates can be attributed to the stressful nature of the job.

DEALING WITH A HETEROGENOUS PUBLIC..
In every profession where there is direct contact with human beings, there is bound to be misunderstanding and conflict. Dealing with humans from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences as customers is a very serious and tedious job which requires lots of patience, endurance and confidence. Some people can be so complicated that they can make you quit your job. The mate has to on a daily basis deal with people he doesn’t know from anywhere and has to lure them into his van, wait till they majestically sit wherever they deem fit and even take their time to bring out money to pay their fares after the mate had beckoned them a “million times”.

Some passengers come to town with frustration from their homes and they lash it out on the innocent mates. As human as they are, some mates I talked to said they put up nasty attitude as a defense mechanism against any unforseen rudeness from passengers. They said this starts from the point of picking passengers. A mate would take his time to call out to a potential passenger to board the trotro but some people rudely turn away not even responded to the mate’s call. They ignore the mates as if they are not human beings. Mates are shown no courtesy just because of their appearance.. But that is their gear for work. You do not expect them to wear suit and tie.

SKILLFUL SALES PERFORMANCE
In order to draw more passengers into his vehicle, a mate would have to shout on top of his voice multiple times and most times, continuously throughout for hours to attract passengers. This requires lots of voice modulation, breath control and energy that can last him for hours. These are skills that they learn on the job without going though any formal capacity building training or course to study. They are talented and fast learners.

ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL BALANCING.
If you work in a Bank or you are an Accounting Professional, you would agree with me that handling money and rendering account daily are not easy tasks. However, trotro mates have to be experts at these practices without prior professional training. If the bus takes a larger number of passengers, the mate has to develop the ability to do fast calculations on his feet and have enough coins for change. Just as some clients explode in rage in some banking halls over poor customer service, so must the mate have the stomach to ensure angry passengers who feel short-changed when it comes to collecting their change.

At the end of the day’s job, the mate will have to render account of the day’s sales to his master in order to receive his daily income. And talking about income, if some mates tell you how much they make in a day, you would lay your tools down and develop interest in their job. Honestly speaking.

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