The paradox of blue and white-collar jobs (Part II)

Part one of this two-piece narrative, published last week by this paper, introduced us to the life-journey of two citizens; a construction worker (seen as a blue-collar worker) and a banker (seen as a white-collar professional).

Part one of this two-piece narrative, published last week by this paper, introduced us to the life-journey of two citizens; a construction worker (seen as a blue-collar worker) and a banker (seen as a white-collar professional).

Once again, this story is not meant to demean any career or encourage school dropouts. Its main goal is to educate us on the consequences of our good and bad choices in life, our perceptions and how they influence who we become.


So let us now see how the two citizens manage their life and money earned.


As introduced previously, the construction worker is naturally able to save more because of his low expenses. More so if he is wise and disciplined he will start saving with the dream of purchasing equipment and plant to set up his own construction company in the near future.  


His street wisdom and survival instincts will have taught him that he can actually take advantage of his walking journeys and extra incomes to start up a small market stall near his residence.

His wedding will be manageable, friends will be there to assist and his wife most likely from a humble background, shall quickly help him build economy. They will both very easily agree on how to plough back even the little profits, invest in Sacco cooperatives and many other brilliant life skills that the banker isn’t thinking about as yet.

On the other hand, in order for the banker to sustain his “high class” status in society, he will be busy trying to fit into this certain lifestyle worthy of a white collar job employee; he will be upgrading from motorbikes and buses to buy his own car, which inspires him to indulge in a bank loan.

While the construction worker is ferrying supplies for his wife’s growing business, you will find the banker busy on social media updating his growing number of online fans and followers on his daily escapades.

Updating new photos with his car, which are hoped to make his friends think better about him. His female friends are watching more keenly now. This makes things a little more complicated for him.

As the construction worker builds his savings and expands his streams of income, the banking clerk gets busy financing a lifestyle …

Five years down the line, the construction worker has already grown his economy and soon will be a contractor or a businessman. Lucky him! He already has the hard skills of managing business. His wife’s business has blossomed and brings an extra income a day to the family’s kitty.

The story of the banker is not all bad either. He has already managed to clock in a few more years of experience and has been promoted to a better position. He now takes home Frw500,000 basic salary per month.

He will soon be finishing up on repaying the car loan and next on his plan is how to fund his upcoming big wedding budgeted for Frw5,000,000. Note that due to his promotion at work he now has to deal with more workload, meaning his mind is fully occupied and he cannot even think of running a side-hustle.

Years pass by and at 55 years of age, the construction worker has managed to grow his and his wife’s businesses several folds. He is now a fully-fledged contractor or he has opened up several shops in various neighborhoods.

He has employees under him who want to be successful like him in the future. He will easily construct a decent bungalow in the pre-urban area and he may pick up an inspiration to venture into agriculture; keep some cows, rabbits, chicken or try farming.

On the other hand, the banker will have reached a senior managerial position. Good for him. But he will still be stuck in debt. He has another mortgage loan for the maisonette house he bought in Nyarutarama – the mortgage loan has a repayment of 20 years meaning he will repay it until he turns 75.

His kids are going to international schools and he is already feeling the strain of paying for school fees.

To make matters worse, technology sets in and the bank he works for ventures into digital banking. A memo is circulated in the office that some people will be retrenched.

He becomes a worried man. His health deteriorates. He is on the verge of having his maisonette house repossessed if he loses that job. He tries to secure a loan to start a business (remember he has no hands-on experience in managing his own business), it most likely fails.

I don’t need to go further. You can now join the dots and figure out what happens to him in his sunset years.
Important lesson

Once again, the moral of this story is not to encourage you to despise some jobs. We cannot all become construction workers. But there is an important lesson in it for all of us to learn.

The ‘banker’ in this narrative; who spends his time on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter etc, who despises humble beginnings ... could be you and I. The pedestrians we splash storm water on with our jeeps bought on loan might soon give us a run for our money if we don’t make wise decisions.

Let’s all wake up, get out of our comfort zones and stop financing lifestyles for the sake of perception. Let’s start working on our dreams. Focus on our real needs and realistic visions.

Dreams don’t work unless we do. Cheers
The writer is a lecturer at the School of Architecture, University of Rwanda, and an architect and urban designer with keen interest on the dialectical relations between Architecture and Society.

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