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Monday, April 9, 2012
Nairobians who disobey laws of the wallet
Spending habits define the Nairobi man or woman, writes Edwin Makiche
We are in the city and it is approaching lunchtime. Operations come to an abrupt end and workers engage a different gear.
Phones begin ringing while many others start dialing across. Chairs start creaking and mouths yawn and salivate.
The cheeky employee switches off his/her Facebook and Twitter windows on the machine.
And with palpable expectation, the slow civil servant announces to members of public lining up for service to "Please come back after lunch".
In Nairobi, lunchtime behaviour is crazy and varied, but everything boils down to one thing — residents of the metropolis are a rare breed.
Here, there is lunch for everyone, everywhere and quality, quantity and price is custom-made to suit various times of the month.
It is perhaps in Nairobi where most workers seem to obey one cardinal law; that from 10th of every month, they automatically change their diets to suit the weight of their thinning wallets.
But Crazy Monday has noticed that not all seem to obey this ‘law of the wallet’. Our investigations came up with an array of city workers, who we have categorised as follows:
This character is found in nearly every organisation in the city but in really small numbers. Majority in this category are men and for them, attention is a matter of life and death.
The impressionist is the kind of fellow who brags about everything. He want to tell everyone how he has had lunch with the country’s who is who at five star hotels.
Whether he earns peanuts or not, this fellow seems to have money to spend throughout the month.
When his colleagues are struggling with shoestring budgets, the impressionist can afford a square meal any day. The man easily wins the hearts of female interns, thanks to his generous spending habits.
He is perhaps the only person in the office who takes a balanced diet from the beginning of the month to the end and would do anything to ensure that everybody knows it.
According to Martin, a construction company driver in Industrial Area, a middle level manager at the firm fits this bill.
For lunch, Martin says, this junior manager prefers going to exclusive five-star hotels where he settles for buffets.
"At times of the month when even heads of departments seem to complain of financial strains, this manager doesn’t miss his lunch at these exclusive joints," says Martin.
He continues: "It is during these hard times that his self-aggrandizement habits come into play. After lunch, he shows up in the office totting tooth picks in his mouth and he is easily heard gloating that the chicken soup he had in this or that hotel didn’t taste to his expectation."
The impressionist is often not good company to keep because he is an intruder and interrupts conversations.
But how do such characters maintain their larger than life personalities?
According to Geff Koech, an economist in the city, these people practically live on credit.
He says while his colleagues technically fast towards ends of months, impressionists eat on credit rather than lower their standards.
"He is the fellow who foots huge bills at the end of the month and starts all over again," says Koech.
The gold digger
These are mainly women who hardly spend their money on meals. They are parasites.
She is the kind of person who waits for anyone to take her out for lunch. They find pleasure in living off other people’s pockets.
At lunchtime, her phone gets busy calling people to offer her a meal. She is fond of lunch hour meetings with friends and acquaintances.
If you take the gold digger out for lunch, be prepared for dire consequences because they prefer expensive joints and from the menu, they pick the most expensive meal and drinks. If you are really unlucky, she will come for lunch with a bevy of like minded women.
She is the kind of person whose account keeps growing while her victims wallow in misery, thanks to her insatiable greed.
The office economist does not spend easily. Any expenditure must be accounted for to the last coin. There is no gender bias in this category.
They follow a strict budget. They do not look at the quality of meals they take. Rather, their biggest concern is the cost implications. They are the kind that eat the same meal for lunch every day, from one month to the other.
The economist takes his or her lunch at smoky shacks in down- town parts of the city. The most preferred meal for an economist is plain githeri (a mixture of boiled maize and beans).
They visit crowded food kiosks where no personal attention is given to customers. The economists’ preferred meal is well known in these joints because they do not miss a single day.
These fellows are difficult to work with and often avoid staff welfare associations because they consider them a waste of money. They do not take any offers from anybody for fear of paying back.
They are like gold diggers and are mainly men. The hustler’s passion for freebies makes him an unsuitable company to keep. Hustlers take any kind of meal anywhere so long as they are free. They gatecrash into parties and jump queues so as to access the juiciest part of meals. He is the kind of fellow who ensures that he takes large chunks of everything during staff parties.
The hustler can run errands in exchange for a meal. They love the company of impressionists who permanently have extra money to spend. They are guns for hire ready to be used in exchange for anything.
In this crazy city, this group is the largest and they cut across both genders. They are the people who feast on chicken at the beginning of the month, settle on beef at mid month and almost starve at the bad side of the month.
Their life is a rat race. Soon after money flows into their accounts at end month, their lifestyle and expenditure go.
When they have money, they hit the road running to big hotels and hardly go to work until they are broke. If they do, they are usually the first to break for lunch and the last to come back to work.
As their accounts begin to dry up, they also start drifting to the less expensive joints. Some begin bringing packed meals to the office.
Towards the end of the month, these fellows are literally operating on empty stomachs. They also find interesting excuses for not going out for lunch. They invariably claim to have pressing assignments to complete. Simply stated, they are hard workers when broke.
The miser does anything but spend his money. This crazy lot is dominated by both men and women in almost equal proportions. Details of where and what the miser takes for lunch is a mystery to everyone in the office just as it is on how he spends his money.
He is the kind of fellow who would be clad in cheap clothing throughout the year. He never seems to make any progress in life. He is always complaining of lack of money and many other hardships in life yet he never seems to spend money.
The minute you mention anything that concerns spending their money, you will part company with the misers.