In Nigeria, some occupations can be a huge source of pride. Some folks would even bite your head off for forgetting to add it as a title when addressing them. These include “Doctor”, “Barrister”, and “Engineer”. The other end of the scale are those occupations that some would rather die than letting friends and relatives know they’re involved in. The cleaner is a ‘card carrying’ member of this less appreciated group. And the public toilet cleaner appears to be even worse off. But is this job that ignoble? Let’s see….
One of the reasons people readily give for discrediting the toilet cleaner is that they are forced to deal with repulsive body fluids and substances. Very true. But may I remind you that the doctor you gaze at with great admiration equally has to do deal with such- and even more. Blood spilling everywhere into your mouth isn’t cool. Neither is your lovely outfit getting covered in torrential vomit. So in reality, there isn’t anything that the cleaner has to handle that a doctor or nurse hasn’t.
Another factor that does not occur to many is that the toilet is not only capable of receiving things. You could very well pick up some stuff there too. Some people have gotten infected just with one visit to a poorly cleaned toilet. Some ladies have had their reproductive systems blocked! Unlike the doctor who only treats you after you have become sick, the cleaner’s job helps to prevent your need to ever see the doctor in the first place. So which do you prefer? The disease curer or the preventer?
I don’t know about you but a clean toilet gives me peace of mind. Some others would even tell you that their best inspirations come from time spent in the toilet. While I don’t understand the psychological operation of this, I am sure you would agree that while a clean toilet inspires, a dirty toilet can be a ‘muse crusher’. So for every great idea you ever got from the loo… guess who you owe some kickbacks.
Have you ever been in a public toilet and had the misfortune of mistakenly dropping a valuable item down the toilet bowl? A phone? An expensive jewellery? It is arguable that your decision to rescue or abandon such an item is directly proportionate to how dirty or clean the toilet bowl is. So for those who have been saved from replacing stuff… You know who to thank.
Nigerians often say that the real custodians of genuine information in any home are the driver and housekeeper. In the public setting, I would add the toilet cleaner. Why? Since a lot of people consider these group of workers to be nonentities, they are virtually invisible. Thus, people make a lot of private conversation or calls around them. Do you want to know who really doesn’t like you at work? Or the key questions for the next promotional interview? You might be shocked at how much that ‘irrelevant’ cleaner knows.
LOO BUSINESS IS…
Many Nigerian youths complain about the fact that there is no job. One thing many fail to realize is that “loo business is good business”. Before you snap your fingers in rejection, calm down and reflect. Many public buildings and properties are in dire need of someone to pay special attention to their toilets and environments. Pick one in your area. You will be surprised to know that some cleaners take home pay is more than what some so called white collar job workers are earning. With diligence and a smile, you will be surprised at the class of connections you could get. And who says you can’t start a cleaning company with time?
So next time you encounter a cleaner, treat them with respect. They render a service that is much more essential than many of us realize.
Inspired by Pharmacist Isaac Onoja.