A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject of today’s “A Week In The Life” is a club hostess and waitress. Club hostesses help clients with reservations and carry out bottles with sparklers when people buy expensive drinks. Our subject talks about the stereotype associated with her job, balancing school and work, and some of the most expensive drinks she has served.
I feel lucky that I have a job because I can’t imagine how I’d cope without one. A little back story: I’m currently living in Akure because of school and outside of classes, I have nothing to do. A typical day for me usually involves class, hostel, class, hostel, rinse and repeat.
With a job in the mix, I’m happy there’s finally some variety: class, hostel, work, rinse and repeat. Keeping a job as a student requires constant moving around of my schedule. Some days, I go from work to class. On other days, it’s from class to work.
Today, I’m going from the lab to work. School ends at 4 p.m., and I have to prepare for work at 6 p.m. The club officially opens at 9:30 p.m. but resumption time is 6 p.m.
I work as a hostess in a club and I like to call it waitressing pro-max — if such a name exists.
My job is to go to work, be on my best behaviour, look beautiful, put on a smile and welcome customers. It’s also my job to show them to their table and make them comfortable. On nights where we have a full house, I also substitute as a waitress and help serve drinks.
The part of my job I love the most is seeing people buy expensive drinks, hey Jesus! Dorime things. When I’m hyping the person popping drinks by dancing and carrying lights, I’m constantly reminding myself that if the drink falls, I’m finished. Some of these drinks cost more than my annual salary. I haven’t gotten used to seeing people casually spend millions of naira on alcohol in one night.
But, I try not to visibly show my shock because the show must go on.
School is currently in session, so my work schedule has changed from every day to only Friday to Sunday. From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Although, I still find myself working during the week because work is fun and my co-workers feel like family.
Midnight of Friday/Saturday morning:
I resumed work at 6 p.m. yesterday. I barely made it to work on time because I overslept when I got to the hostel. It took the grace of God for me to jump up when I did and I rushed to work.
The first thing I did at work was to eat the cereal I packed. Next, I started making reservations for guests coming later at night when we fully opened. At some point, I helped the barman take inventory and plan the drinks for the night. When I was tired, I went to a restaurant in the same building as the club to chill.
At 9 p.m., I went to change. I was torn between a red dress with a thigh slit and a plain black round neck shirt. I almost chose the red dress, but I remembered that the last time I wore it, a man pointed at my nipple, another slapped my butt and one couldn’t stop staring at my breasts — even though they aren’t that big. And so, the plain black round neck won.
I’ve been by the door welcoming guests all night. In that time, I and the other hostesses have danced up to five times for people popping drinks. I’ve also worn a mask to hide my face during those five times because I’m shy.
In this same night, I’ve also gotten offers from people who say they want to fuck me. One even offered to triple my monthly salary if I go home with him. Wonders shall never end.
The alcohol has finally kicked in. The DJ’s playlist is fire. People have stopped coming in and now I’m catching my own fun.
I’m not doing again. I’m tired. These people should come and be going home.
God. These people are still here dancing and partying. Don’t they want us to go home? Are they not tired? I’m tired.
I miss my bed.
Finally, the last customer just left. Thank you, Jesus!
Nobody can separate me from this bed. Not food, not water, not even phone calls. I want to sleep till tomorrow if I can.
I can’t believe I have to get up for work. This adulthood is very somehow because someone can’t even relax. Just work every day until you die.
Midnight of Saturday/Sunday morning
Tonight has been uneventful. People are coming in much slower than usual and the energy on the dance floor is off. With the kind of evening I had when I got to work, I’m glad things are slow now.
For the longest time, I’ve suspected that people view so-called “club girls” differently. However, today’s incident proved me right.
The owner of the club I work in owns a hotel within the building our office is in, and I chill at the hotel’s bar and restaurant all the time. Yesterday, [male] friends from my school came to lodge in our hotel. That’s how I went to say hi to them because these are friends I had before starting this job.
As I was leaving their room to start work, I heard someone say, “she has gone to do the job they hired her for. The job of fucking customers.”
My heart dropped, my palms and face were covered in sweat, and I was speechless.
It’s somehow when people just stereotype you. Club girl doesn’t mean she fucks around. Club girl doesn’t mean she’s for sale or wants your money. Club girl doesn’t mean she’s not a person; she’s a human being too.
Last last this work is not for everyone because if you don’t have sense they’ll run you streets.
The last customer just left, so we’re done for the day. However, according to our contract, we can’t leave until 6:00 a.m. Everyone is either sleeping or about to sleep. I can’t because my body is already used to sleeping during the day.
To pass time, I try to match drinks to their prices. We have:
— Hennessy Paradis. We sell for ₦1M and people buy it like pure water.
— Azul costs ₦400k and is decent.
— Ace of Spades is ₦450k.
— Hennessy xo is ₦350k. Same price as Remy XO. Dom Perignon is around ₦300 – ₦350k too.
— Don Julio is ₦400k.
— Then we have the Moet family which costs ₦65k. This is in the same category as Hennessy VSOP.
— We sell Glenfiddich between ₦65 – ₦85k too.
— Our Ciroc goes for ₦45,000
There’s a drink for everybody.
Finally, my watch has ended. I’m going home to sleep all day. I’m grateful that my colleagues told me to go home while they stayed back to balance the account and clean up.
The only thing powering me this morning is energy drinks. Last night was so busy that you’ll never have imagined that the next day was Monday. Customers were everywhere, so I barely had time to rest. To make things worse, my first class starts at 8:00 a.m. today and attendance is compulsory.
I have to do everything in my power to not touch my bed. Anything that makes me lie down small, that’s the end. I’m gone. I just need to manage till 2 p.m. when school ends for today. I don’t know how I’ll survive the lectures, but the first step is getting to school in one piece.
It’ll soon be a year since I started doing this job. It’s funny how this job started as a way to keep busy and earn passive income after the lockdown was eased, and school was still closed. Now, it’s something I’ve come to enjoy. Beyond that, I’m really grateful I have a job I enjoy that occupies my time.
As a student, there’s no greater feeling than knowing I have my own money. I don’t depend on anyone for anything: I see something, I like it, and I save for it. Apart from the occasional harassment, this is a job I enjoy doing.
I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had nothing to do.