Friday, January 27, 2012

Week 65: Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

I may never drop another product on the floor again at Wal-Mart.

Barbara Ehrenreich did the unthinkable: she left her comfortable life as an editor to experience the lives of the "working poor". Not only did she work as a waittress, a maid, and a retail employee, but she lived the life, attempting to make ends meet with housing and food. She discovered what most of us know: it's impossible to live on minimum wage.

To many of us (so-called professionals) who sit at a desk and make decisions and write business letters and make phone calls, it can be easy to forget that others labor for next to nothing right next door.

I waittress on Fridays and Saturdays. I just started two months ago after working office jobs for 10 years. I forgot how demeaning the job can be, and how little respect you receive for working your ass off. There's nothing like a regular dose of humiliation to keep you on your toes.

This book re-opened my eyes about poverty in the U.S., challenging the "work hard and succeed" mantra we've all heard.

This book makes me think about the woman who takes out my trash and the guy that trims our hedges around the office. Maybe I'll shake their hands the next time I see them, and thank them for a job well done.

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