What did you spend your first salary on?

A man counts money.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

A relative amused me the other day when he recounted how two young men that worked for him approached him and asked whether he could help them buy gold-plated “teeth” from a certain online store.

This relative, an easy-going man in his mid-forties, is carrying out some construction, and the two young men, barely in their twenties, are some of the workers at the site – they earn Sh500 a day.

They did not own smart phones, which is why they wanted him to buy the tooth caps, one each, on their behalf. As he told this story, he looked both bemused and aghast.

He could not, for the life of him, understand why someone would waste their hard-earned money (the two spent most of their day hauling stones and cement around the site), on fake ‘teeth’ that they did not need, and which would make them look ridiculous anyway. It would, he said, have made more sense if they’d have saved up that money to buy smartphones.

I shook my head and pointed out that he was allowing himself to age too fast, surely he remembered how frivolous he had been in his teens, doing things that only made sense to him and his peers.

Wealthy barons

 The ‘gold’ teeth, I told him, were probably to impress the girls, rapper-style, that the last thing on these young men’s minds was investing their sweat money on something that could give birth to something bigger.

To begin with, they probably still lived with their parents and ate their mothers’ food, therefore they had no pressing responsibilities competing for their money. They could, therefore, afford to be frivolous and do things that did not make sense. For a while at least.

The fact is that had most of us started investing or using our money wisely when we got our very first salary, many of us would be wealthy barons right now – I, for instance, as you read this, would be sipping something cold and refreshing in a dainty wine glass somewhere on a private beach, devoid of any money-induced worries.

Gold-plated tooth cap

 But I guess that we have to go through certain phases of life, and each phase has its own demands. In my early twenties, like these two youths, I spent my money on things that I did not need, and even though it did not occur to me to get a gold-plated tooth cap, I bought too many handbags and pairs of shoes that I didn’t need, and ended up wearing only three of those many pairs.

Speaking of things that don’t make sense, the other day, my 10-year-old son found me preparing to go to work, and after observing me quizzically for a few seconds as I carefully prepped my eyebrows, he asked me why I “cut” my eyebrows and then “draw” them back again. “It doesn’t make sense,” he concluded, and then he walked away.

I had to pause and think about what he had just pointed out. Indeed, why do we women tweeze and trim our eyebrows only to draw the part that we got rid of back again? Children are very perceptive; I’ll give them that.

But I was telling you about the two men in search of jewellery for their teeth. Once my relative’s bewilderment wore off, he logged onto the online shop and found them what they were looking for.

The cheapest ‘gold-plated’ tooth cap was going for 200 bob, the most expensive costing about Sh3,000. Need I say that he was greatly relieved on their behalf when they chose the cheapest one?

cnjunge@ke.nationmedia.com

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