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That time when

. . . I had just moved base from Lagos, Nigeria to England, UK. I was reminiscing with a friend recently about those times and some of the things I got myself into just to make ends meet. Well, I wonder what ends were loosed and I was trying to tie up! You might know…lol. So I thought I might as well blog about one of those things this week.

I came to this country for an MSc degree with £200 only, not sure of how I was going to live. Thankfully, my mum had the insight to get me to book university-owned accommodation instead of with private landlords. I knew I had to get a job which was even limited to 20 hours per week at that time.

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My first job was working in a freezer. I don’t have a better way of putting it. It was advertised as a packing job and I thought, it can’t be that bad. Only for me to walk in and I already felt like frozen Christmas turkey. Bear in mind that I had just come from tropical Africa and God didn’t design me for subzero temperatures. To make matters worse, they gave us workers some flimsy gloves. I told the guy in charge I couldn’t continue but he said I had already committed and had to stay the full shift. I sheepishly stayed on packing the coleslaw tubs as they came through the conveyor belt. In no time, I came one with the machine and could neither feel my face nor my hands nor my feet.

I don’t think you need to be told, but that was my first and last shift on that job. Never went back. Never got called back even. I think they got the message. To make matters worse, the shift finished at ungodly o’clock and I had to walk back home in very cold October temperatures.

When I told my mum that was the job I got, she begged me to stop, that she’ll sell her last clothes and send the money to me to avoid killing myself all in the name of money. Especially as I had just come out of a bout with pneumonia. (I love my mother!! And that love grows deeper everyday as I better understand her role in my life.)

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Things got slightly better. I got a job as a cleaner in a primary school where I later, in the year I started my teacher training, did a week long work experience at.

I still needed more money than the roughly £65/week wage I got. So I signed up to tons of survey sites for that bit extra. From one of these,  I got a call to attend a focus group 30 minutes away from my house on a Sunday afternoon, promising a pay of £90. I did the maths as you can expect. It was going to cost about £5 on the bus for a return ticket. I could invite someone else and I did but she was an unbeliever in the £90 for 90 minutes of discussion.

To the focus group I went. I have to confess I left church to go. And I even got there 30 minutes late. You won’t believe the topic of discussion. Holidays with horses in Finland! I just did bold face and bold mouth and acted like I knew anything about horses and holidays in Finland. I probably said a maximum of 10 sentences. Ate their biscuits and cakes and drank their tea or water. Didn’t even bother socialising. Just show me the money.

I got my £90 cash. Happily signed for it. Even had the efontery to ask if I could take for my friend who was absent. The guy must have thought, all these black people! He just smiled and said no politely. Well, I went shopping after. To the clearance stores though. Ain’t about that full price! Bought some African food and skipped back home with some extra cheddar.

That’s all for now folks. To your remembering how far you have come, . . .

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