Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Gaborone’s broke working class millennials struggling to keep up with the ‘Kardashians’

The most popular franchise restaurants are their favourites. It is of course an opportunity to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers of city life. Wining and dining with the so called successful puts you up there with them. Or at least that’s how it looks.

They are easy to spot. Alone or in groups. They don’t just down a drink. No. Theirs is an art. One small, calculated sip at a time. Careful not to sip too much lest they finish too long before closing hour. Careful also not to give themselves away. After all, broke or successful, reputation is everything.

Unless once in a blue moon, meals are out of the equation. Especially when in groups because it usually entails going Dutch when the bill arrives. Nobody wants to be caught off guard. “We see them almost every night,” says Brian, a waiter at one of CBD’s franchise restaurants. “You can even tell from the way they interact with you that this one is on a tight budget.” Brian knows all about the calculative, single drink master ‘sippers’. They do not take kindly to constant visits by the waiters.

“You keep checking if they need a refill and they sometimes lose it,” Brian says. The waiters sometimes have to bear the costs of these poor, pretentious millennials. “Sometimes after a whole night of drinking they realise the tab has exceeded their limited budget and they bolt out without paying,” Brian says.

These poor broke millennials are also easy to spot at the office. Every second week following month end they conveniently go on a diet. Coffee or sleep at lunch hour.

While street vendors offer lunch at reasonable prices they can afford under normal circumstances, wining and dining at expensive restaurants remains a priority. It is all about keeping up appearances.

And the weekly Monday rib-nights and Friday happy hours do not make it any easier for these na├»ve, young urban dwellers. Come payday they go all out to prove they fit in. Blowing an entire month’s worth of expenditure in a couple of days to keep up with the ‘Kardashians’ of Gaborone.

Most do not have a car. But taking a 16 seater combi to work with the rest of the pack is a no, no. They would rather spend 10 times as much to take a cab straight to the office than be cramped up in a commuter mini bus, wrinkling their relatively expensive wardrobe, and taking a sweaty walk from the bus stop to the office.

These are the poor, broke working class Gaborone millennials trying to fit into the expensive city lifestyle.

And they do have influencers. Bloggers like Gaborone based stylist and socialite Thapelo Letsebe are some of the young people other millennials look up to. But he insists they should not try to live his life. “Without trying to say I’m successful,” he tells Lifestyle, “it has taken time for me to be where I am. Success is gradual. It is not an overnight thing.” He says young people need to be patient with themselves and stop trying to achieve and be everything at once.

While Letsebe’s social media posts depict someone who is always out and about, patronising some of the most expensive resorts and restaurants in the Botswana, he wants young people to know it is only part of his job as an influencer.

“I don’t get to pay for half the stuff I do,” he says. “If it wasn’t for my job I wouldn’t be going out that often because it is damn expensive. I cannot afford to do that. The job market nowadays is very fickle. One day you are employed the next you’re out on the streets .If you don’t save enough you are going to be in trouble.”

Studies have found that millennials blow up their budgets by eating out more often than the older generation .The average millennial, studies say, eats and drinks out five times a week, making it difficult for them to develop a saving habit.

“While Millennials may be known for their tech-savviness, their financial reputation isn’t quite as gleaming. Millennials are falling victim to common financial vices like spending money by eating out or ordering in a lot,” USA Today says.

Although one may argue it is a matter of choice, it may not entirely be their fault given the growing popularity of liquor restaurants such as Cappello, Main Deck, Dros, Chez Nicholas, MKOP, and Rhapsody’s as opposed to cheaper next-door bars like Marulamantsi (Rulas), Ed-Las Chisanyama, Raz Mattaz, Kilimanjaro, Calabash, Georges, and Bonanza, coupled with an increasing pressure to keep up with the fast city life.

“When you’re young there’s just a lot of temptation out there …  so you’re going out and spending time socializing and dining and dating which often takes place at bars and restaurants,” USA Today says.

A Business Insider report also supports the notion that it may not be entirely the millennials’ fault. “There are some interesting differences with different generations, but I don’t think they’re about the individuals, I think they’re about opportunities,” Dan Ariely tells Business Insider.

“So, think about the housing prices right now in big cities. They basically mean that it’s impossible for somebody at age 25 to get a mortgage and hope to buy a house.” The average salary for millennials in Gaborone is P5, 000 while the lowest monthly instalment for mortgage is P6, 000. If they cannot afford a house, it seems, they might as well drown their sorrows at expensive franchise liquor restaurants.

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