Full-time nobody

I do not mean to alarm you or make a sort of social statement here, but there are many unemployed people in Nigeria. No one knows the exact amount, so we just agree there are a lot.

Of the people who are actually employed (170 million minus a lot, which is approximately a few), a large percentage work at places where they do nothing, or at jobs they are not equipped for, or at jobs they don’t care about.
Which is fine, I understand that people need to take any jobs they can get to make money to live their lives.
What I don’t understand is why these same people in social situations always ask, “So what do you do?”
In the US, that question felt like a precursor to a conversation. It determined what else you could talk to the person about, which path the conversation would take.
Here, people ask it more even though for the majority the answer is meaningless (if you have a job you don’t care about) or embarrassing (if you’re unemployed).

The question becomes a roundabout way of verifying that the person can afford to have the conversation that follows.
Afterall, if you’re going to be talking about foreign vacations, you dont want to get stuck talking to someone who spends most evenings queuing to buy just enough fuel to power his generator into the next day.

I am sure there are other ways of establishing common ground, but what is common ground in Nigeria outside of financial means. What is common ground without common struggle?


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