The Driver Who Was Too Smart To Drive
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Assigned by the company to be my “driver” for the day. But the way he spoke, the way he talked, the way he carried himself … was just different. I could not place my finger on it.
And as the Air Conditioner from the car protected me from the madness outside Lagos, I could have easily forgotten about him.
But I couldn’t … his face stayed in my head. I couldn’t understand why he was driving, he looked like someone that could be working for us…the company.
A couple of months later I sat down at a management meeting…and I don’t know why but I started thinking about drivers and wondering about their opportunity to grow within the company. You see when we talk about drivers we rarely look beyond the wheel … in fact the career path of a driver is quite predictable …driver…senior driver and senior senior driver…you get the point. So my hand defied gravity and I raised it up…
“How can we give drivers more opportunities” I asked.
A voice from across the room said we did one time it failed…another said it was difficult to do because of this and because of that…but I kept asking and asking, until finally we had to move on to another topic…
2 months later, the HR rep called me. When HR calls, you are either in trouble or in real BIG trouble. But I was called to interview a “Candidate” for a technical position. She sent me the resume…a UNIBEN graduate…his name didn’t ring a bell. But then he walked in…I remembered him … the driver that didn’t look like a driver …
But the interview had to happen…I dusted off a bunch of engineering questions … I wanted to know if he could handle them…I heard rumors of candidates who could not answer simple primary school questions, so I had to ensure he was not one of them. But this guy…he was rusty but smart, he understood the questions and tackled them quite impressively. I gave my recommendation to HR…
“engineering foundation solid but would need to learn on the job.”
They promised to get back to him…6 months passed…9 months and then a year. I would bump into him occasionally and ask “how far job” and he would say nothing. Nothing.
So last week I had a cough…that dry harmattan cough that would not just go away. So I went to see the doctor and bumped into him…yes him…the “driver.” He was filling out a form…I asked him what he was here for, “Was he sick?” He said no…he was here for his Fitness To Work Medical Check Up…he had gotten an offer. Finally!
When we think about that word driver it is easy to see that low life poverty stricken guy with no education working for us. It all merges into one, we see our drivers as well drivers, we save their names as Ade The Driver or Driver Ade, as if driver is their last or first name.
But not everyone driving is doing so because they want to be there or they have a passion for driving. I mean nobody gets up in Primary school and says “When I grow up … I want to be a driver!” Most people drive because of the crazy circumstances of life in Nigeria, the high unemployment.
So aside from our mandatory responsibility to treat drivers with respect, we should also push them to finish up their education, if they need to go to school on weekends arrange for it. Help them become better, and for those of us in positions of influence advocate on the behalf of the talented drivers you discover. Remember nobody
except Jason Statham grows up wanting to be a driver! Drive the change.
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