Two short true life stories prompted this piece and countless of instances.
Clearly the subject of tipping is accompanied with guilt and obligatory clouded with issues of class and income inequality. I put this question forward to students of the University of Lagos, what do we think of the domestic keepers in our environment (The School)? The ones in the faculties, hostels, walk-ways, car routes and any other space in the school where they are visible.
It was on a Tuesday morning, after an 8am – 10am class, I figured I needed to ease myself. Getting to the entrance of the ‘Ladies’, the toilet keeper was raining curses at students in Yoruba. A woman in her 5Os I presume, saying: “awon omo oși, ti won ba ri omo bi leyin ile-iwe ni won maa ma wa eni ti won șe kiri” which means “useless students, after graduation, if they are unable to conceive, they will tend to look for the person they have offended in the past time in other to seek for forgiveness”. She later explain to me that there is no water on the floor (3rd floor), she had to go to the ground floor to get water to clean the toilet. Before she got back, some girl already peed on the floor while on her period.
The second story is quite different but in line, a toilet keeper in the faculty begged me for money to eat after using the ladies. I felt pity for her, not for the fact that she is hungry, but for that she doesn’t care about her self worth anymore. She chooses to work hard in other not to beg and yes, she does work hard, cleaning others poos and pees (the most disgusting slash sterneous job if you ask me) and still the hopelessness of this hard work leads her back to begging.
Truth needs to be told, no one is ever happy to wipe someone else’s butt for money, but circumstances, the code of our five unequal fingers that God put to us to crack, which I already cracked to mean : we cannot all have it (for example: wealth) equal in this life. The code of our five unequal fingers also leave us with the need to learn to assist the needy just as stated in the Holy Bible: Proverb 29:7 and also in the Holy Quran: Chapter 3; Aal-e-Imran:92
“The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.”
“By no means shall you attain to righteousness until you spend (benevolently) out of what you love; and whatever thing you spend, Allah surely knows it.”
Chapter 3; Aal-e-Imran:92
Additionally, many a times I have noticed frowns on their (domestic workers) faces while doing their jobs. Yes, of course, you don’t expect one to sweep from Senate Building to Unilag Pharmacy with a smile on her face. I firmly argue that, I say yes it is possible, when we students pass by them, either rich or poor kids, let’s tip them with kind speech like “well done mummy” and the likes or better still tip them with money politely (for students that have excess). Some of us do not even greet them, I guess they are so invisible.
Please let us imagine the whole of UNILAG not being swept for a week, with all the junks and drinks we love to take and dispose the wrappers and bottles illegally, let us also imagine how we will most definitely find it difficult to walk on a clear pathway. We now see ourselves swaying from side to side to avoid one rubbish or the other. Same imagination goes to the toilet scrubbers.
Therefore, this is how important these domestic workers are, they need motivation, the essence of what they do is way above their salaries. I hope this ideology is pursued by the students aided by the management as well.