Babatunde: Behind The Subway Counter

Westport is filled with spectacularly interesting people. So many folks here have transformative back stories, and do intriguing things.

We find them in typical places: schools, the train, the beach, cultural events.

But they’re also in places we might not expect. Like behind the Subway counter.

The hat says “Victor.” His real name is Babatunde Aborisabe. He’s happy to hear either one. In fact, he’s pretty happy always.

His smile and enthusiasm might be unexpected. His father died before Babatunde was born. His mother had a very limited education.

But school teachers in his native Lagos, Nigeria encouraged him. They gave him confidence. He joined the Debate Club, and learned how to organize his thoughts.

He was named a class leader. That’s an important responsibility. In Nigeria if a class is rowdy or inattentive, the class leader is punished.

Babatunde read a lot — about leadership, business and more. Ben Carson — the neurosurgeon and author — became a great inspiration. Babatunde devoured books like Think Big, The Big Picture and Take the Risk.

Heeding Carson’s call to be the best at whatever you do, Babatunde went to college for science and engineering. He worked in food and drug quality management for the government. He continued to develop intellectually.

Babatunde Aborisabe

Babatunde Aborisabe

Then he took a huge risk: He came to America to earn his master’s. In 2013 Babatunde enrolled in the University of Bridgeport’s technology management program. Very soon, he became a team leader.

He’s found his professors to be very approachable. “Here you are allowed to disagree, and challenge opinions,” he says with joy.

“I love it,” he says of college specifically, and the US in general. “The opportunities are wide for anyone who works hard. But I know that I am the only one responsible for what happens to my life.”

Babatunde has gotten involved with 2 churches in Bridgeport — including one with Nigerian roots.

He graduates next semester. He’s exploring Ph.D. programs.

In the meantime, to earn money, he is a shift leader at Subway in Westport. He makes sandwiches with a smile, for customers who have no clue about his story.

“People want to be treated well,” he says of his job. “I like doing that.”

Remember the names: Babatunde “Victor” Aborisabe. You will hear about him in years to come.

(Hat tip: Amy Scarella)

8 responses to “Babatunde: Behind The Subway Counter

  1. Brian Pettee

    On You Tube, there is a segment on the Subway operations leadership, based at Subway Worldwide HQ in Milford, CT, from the CBS show called Undercover Boss. You, Victor and 06880 folk would enjoy the segment if they have not already watched it.

    So, by the way, Dan, what do you think about a national $15 minimum wage? Would you go on the record on 06880 with your answer? I favor the idea because low wages deprive the workforce of much, anywhere, strictly speaking. Westport merchant’s should still love you if you answer honestly.

    • Before Dan answers that question, you should tell us all if you think the demand for labor is price inelastic. Of course if it is, $15 is far too low; $150 per hour would be much better. But then if it is not, a mandated increase in the cost of labor will reduce the demand for labor. Either way, a mandated $15 is the wrong answer.

    • A complicated question, Brian. i do favor it in theory. it seems to be working well in cities that have already embraced it. There is something wrong when people earning the minimum wage still live below the poverty level. As for Michael’s comment above, I think the $15 figure has been reached by economists; they did not pick it (like $150) out of thin air. A rising tide lifts all boats. I hope, however, that this thread does not devolve into an economic debate.

      • The $15 number is arbitrary . It does not reflect a market determined price. Raising the cost of labor relative to other costs will not increase the demand for labor. And in this case the aggregate impact will be no boats rising for those who are laid off and the owners who will bear the costs. If the market can support a &15 per hour wage, it will happen.

  2. Michael Calise

    leading question

  3. Barbatunde I admire your hard work, determination and attitude! You will go far I am sure!

  4. Ben Carson is known in Nigeria? Amazing!

  5. Jamie Walsh

    Ben Carson seems like a pretty amazing guy… A lot of common sense and he had a real career before politics. All the best Victor! You are a shining example of how people can immigrate to this country and embrace opportunity.