Nickel and Dimed

Topics: Wage, Employment, Minimum wage Pages: 3 (1320 words) Published: May 6, 2006
Is America truly the land of endless opportunities? People from all over the world come to the US in high hopes of becoming rich with minimal efforts. Sadly, this is not the case. After reading Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich, I have a new outlook on individuals struggling to get by on low wage paying jobs in America. Barbara travels to Florida, Maine, and Minnesota to "investigate" life as low wage worker. She plays a different role in each of these three states to experience the true life of these workers. She works at four different low paying jobs as a waitress, housekeeper at a hotel, house cleaner and a Wal-Mart associate. In the course of three months she finds insight in life with minimum wage. Reading this novel has truly had an impact on me and the way millions of people within America truly live. As an upper middle class citizen I don't experience these struggles Barbara experienced in investigating different types of low wage lifestyles. It has really opened up my eyes to the way people live and makes me feel extremely privileged.

The first place Barbara embarks on in starting her new low-wage life is Key West, Florida. She manages to find a waitresing job at a place called Hearthside. There she earns $2.43 an hour plus tips. During this investigation she used $500 a month for rent and still wants to have $400-$500 left over for food and gas. She gets by at this waitressing job but comes across a number of interesting observations. She mentions how managers demand of you to perform you task, while they can sit for hours at a time and do nothing. "Managers can sit- for hours at a time if they want- but it's their job to see that no one else ever does, even when there's nothing to do." This is true for most places that pay low wages. You would never see a respectable business man or women just ordering others around without performing their job as well. Barbara also experienced the way these low income individuals live outside of work. The...
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