Oct 05 2014
Barbara Ehrenreich’s book “Nickel and Dimed” struck a chord with me because it outlined the degrading and exhausting day-to-day schedule of the so-called ‘working poor’. She posits that working in a minimum wage environment such as a fast food restaurant is not necessarily a ‘low-skilled’ position; rather, it requires a great deal of character traits like patience, grit and stamina. Furthermore, these jobs can cause chronic injuries to the workers because of the repetitive nature of the work (i.e: developing back problems as a result of lifting heavy boxes all day or foot problems from standing behind a register for hours upon end). The wage received by the working poor is inadequate, as declared by Ehrenreich, because it perpetuates the unhealthy lifestyle the workers are already exposed to. For example, many workers can’t afford healthy food to sustain a well-balanced diet and fall back on greasy fast food- ironically, the very same places many of them work.
The fact that there are ‘Work wanted’ or ‘Help wanted’ signs indicates that there is a continuous turnover of employees at these minimum-wage jobs, mainly denoting that the workers themselves aren’t really valued that much. I found Ehrenreich’s account interesting and saddening. It makes me glad that I’m working towards a degree so that I won’t have to go through the grueling effort of working in the minimum wage sector.
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