NICKEL AND DIMED

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After reading about the travels Barbara Ehrenreich took in the book Nickel and Dimed as an attempt to “discover some hidden economies in the world of the low-wage worker” to Florida, Maine, and Minnesota, I have been able to deepen my understanding of the harsh reality people face while working in low income jobs. (Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, p. 3) She undertook several different types of low wage jobs such as a waitress, hotel housekeep, nursing home cook, maid and a retail associate. The workers she encountered in the low-income workforce struggle daily with the grueling task of trying to find affordable and safe housing, medical insurance, fair workplaces, and many other different issues that apart of trying to survive on minimum wage. Barbara’s adventures have opened my eyes to the rude reality that most low-wage workers truly face.
As Ehrenreich ventures out to start her undercover journey her first destination is Key West, Florida. She manages to find a job as a waitress fairly quickly and succeeds in maintaining herself financially while working. Not long after starting, she is able to see firsthand what struggles her co-workers are dealing with on a daily basis. The harsh treatment and unrealistic expectations from the managers result in an overall negative atmosphere for the team morale, mental state, and attitude towards the job entirely. The management personnel also seem to come across as a bit degrading towards the employees.
Throughout Ehrenreich’s venture to the various states and job titles, she continuously observes the same sad patterns repetitively. The businesses that she works at are denying breaks, a clean work environment, and in some cases real job training. Businesses are refusing to pay enough in wages to allow an employee to cover the costs of safe and adequate housing. Employees are forced to have to turn to living in their vehicles or with a working roommate. A second income from a roommate

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