Nickle and Dimed Summer Reading

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Emily Fontenot
AP English III
Summer Reading

I. Journal:
After playing the game Spent, I learned that low-wage workers have to sacrifice many things in life and make difficult decisions. For example, if two bills are due at the same time, they may have to choose which one to pay. Also, they are not able to provide their children with many things most kids take for granted. Children of low-income families may have to miss out on birthday parties, field trips, and even meals because their parents can not afford them. These families may also have to sacrifice their health due to the high costs of health insurance and doctor visits. By playing this game, I realized a decent family income is needed just to be able to provide your family with the basic necessities. It showed me that a low-wage job for an adult will not be sufficient to provide you or your family with a comfortable way of life. I learned that when faced with a difficult decision based solely on a financial means, people will choose things that they would not normally consider a good choice. The main thing I learned from the game is to get a good education so that I can get a higher paying job and not be faced with these tough decisions. II. Reading and Understanding the Book:

1. The author uses the term “wage slave” to refer to workers that take any job available to them, for whatever wage is offered, because they have no other choice. 2. In the beginning of the book, Ehrenreich sets three rules which include: she will always have a car, never be homeless, and she will never go hungry. Although she doesn’t actually break her rules, she comes close at times and settles for living in a hotel and eating foods from convenience stores. 3. The author’s higher education doesn’t really play a part in the story because she chooses not to reveal that information to anyone. She feels this will allow her to better fit in with the lifestyle of her coworkers. 4. The author’s comment about not waiting for a bus is made while explaining why she will always have a car in this experiment. She feels it will be a waste of the readers’ time to listen to her problems with public transportation rather than her actual jobs. I disagree with her choice of always having a car because most low-wage workers can not afford the luxury of a car and would be forced to rely on public transportation. 5. The want ads are not a reliable source for low-wage jobs because many of these industries run a continual ad just to have a supply of backup applicants due to the high turnover rate in these jobs. 6. The living conditions of the author while in Key West appear to be better than that of her fellow workers. She is able to afford a monthly efficiency on her own while her coworkers pay weekly or daily for trailers and motel rooms. In addition to paying more, most of her fellow workers live in these tiny accommodations with a roommate or roommates. 7. George is a nineteen-year-old Czech dishwasher at Jerry’s who has just arrived in our country. He appears to be an honest and anxious worker who is earning below minimum wage and living in very cramped quarters with other Czech workers. The author and he befriend one another as she attempts to teach him English. Ehrenreich does not intervene because she felt like she no longer had the moral confidence to do so. As a low wage worker, she now felt that had to put all her efforts into looking out for herself. 8. There are many instants in the book where the author has to deal with people talking down to her. The manager at the Hearthside threatens to take away the break room because he said they are leaving it in a discussing mess and are spending too much time gossiping. This is only one example of the many times she and her fellow workers are treated as low class citizens by their boss. In several of her job interviews, she has to answer demeaning questions about her morals and honesty, which she feels would not be...
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