Beryl on vacation. Photo: Getty

How to afford a holiday if you’re poor? Beryl has some ideas

It can be near impossible for many New Zealanders to afford the most meagre of holidays. But there is an answer, and that answer turns out to be: go foraging berries. Emily Writes explains.

Stuff published a fantastic article by Josephine Franks the other day. The rise of ‘holiday hunger’: The Kiwis who can’t afford to take a break resonated with many. Simply camping in New Zealand can cost a fortune. What used to be a cheap holiday, just a break really, is now totally out of reach for many.

Just one moment of pause in a life of grinding till you die is now seen as a luxury that many think should only be accessible to some. It’s a capitalist nightmare.

But never fear – if you thought the answer was paying more than minimum wage for crucial roles like teaching and nursing, or addressing pay inequity, or stable housing, or creating a society that doesn’t churn through people like they’re disposable – you’d be wrong.

Because the answer is to be found in the people with Helpful Thoughts about the situation Franks describes, and the answer is: foraging berries.

I talked to Boomer Beryl from that flawless source of human wisdom, The Online Comments, on any story about millennials doing anything. She told me how you too can have an overseas holiday if you just follow her advice.

Hi Ber –

In my day you know how we afforded holidays? Do you know what we did?

Sure I –

BERRIES. That’s the thing with millennials they don’t know how to forage berries. In my day I had to grind my own flour. Had to get milk from the sheep. Make my own cheese. 1986 was a difficult year.

How –

We foraged berries all day. Bare foot. Couldn’t afford more than two pairs of shoes each. Had movie nights where we ate our berries dipped in flour. Never went to the movies. Not like you millennials. You’re always at the movies. Movies all day. Movies all night. We didn’t even have shoes. And our parents! It was even tougher for them.

Well, I –

1987. War rations. We could only afford one house back then. It was a dark time.

How did you –

I bought our house on berry money. Foraging for berries earned me about $80,000 a year.  Foraged all day. Foraged all night. Grinded my flour and dipped the berries in the flour. Holiday? What holiday!

So you can afford a holiday if you … don’t take a holiday?

That’s it! You millennials are slow learners. Don’t know Excel either. I did a three year uni degree on Excel. Useful skill. Millennials can’t do Excel, can’t forage, can’t save money. We were on one income. Never had job stability my husband worked 35 years as a public servant until he retired at 65. It was only then that I stopped freezing berries which saves you around $123,000 per year. We now take overseas holidays twice a year but we earned it.

OK, so –

We didn’t even think about taking holidays! EVER. This is a millennial invention. I didn’t even have a car! We just all stood there holding a wheel each and we made car noises. You don’t know how lucky you are.

Oh I know we are really luck –

YOU DON’T. I GREW UP IN THE WAR. The war for the North Shore we could only afford two houses because the North Shore was being taken over.

Um, I –

School books? I cut down a tree and stripped it and made books by hand.

Wow.

Made ink for pens out of berries. Killed a goat with my bare hands. Ate it for a year.

I’m vegetarian.

Of course you are you bike-riding millennial avocado eating holiday taking scum.

Thanks Beryl that was –

I USED A WOOD STOVE. I WASHED MY CLOTHES DOWN YONDER RIVER. WE GOT PAID $6 AN HOUR AND IT WAS FINE. WE NEVER WANTED FOR ANYTHING. STRUGGLING GIVES YOU CHARACTER. IT DID ME NO HARM. LOOK AT ME. I AM A DEEP WELL OF COMPASSION. GET A LIFE GET A GRIP YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT EVERYTHING MY HUSBAND ISN’T SORRY FOR BEING A MAN WOMEN IN MY DAY HAD DECORUM NOT LIKE YOU SLUTS BERRIES BERRIES SLUT.

Beryl you’re on fire! Beryl are you OK?

FIRE ONLY MAKES ME STRONGER.

[Dialing emergency services] Please help, another boomer has spontaneously combusted with rage.

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIESSSS.

Rest in peace Beryl. Your legacy will never leave us. You taught us so much about the power of nostalgia, of a need to call to a time when things felt simpler. So much so that we imagine a world we never lived in. You taught us that the struggles of one generation, the difficulties one family might face getting by, isn’t erased by insisting another generation or another family struggles needlessly.

That we might find empathy for others in our hearts rather than offering up budgeting advice that makes no sense. That we might believe families in 2020 shouldn’t have to find food in order to survive. We will forage in your name Beryl. We will forge ahead in partnership so that no other boomer might die from In-My-Day-itis.


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