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Throughout Ehrenreich's attempts to work at unskilled labor jobs at Jerry's, Merry Maids, or Wal-Mart; she continually finds herself struggling to keep up with her coworkers regardless of the fact that she is very well educated. There are vocabulary words, slang, and unspoken societal rules that she doesn't fit neatly into. I liked her quote in her evaluation (page 192) that "no job, no matter how lowly is truly unskilled." This helped me to have a more understanding, if not respectful, attitude toward my "uneducated" parents and even the waitresses, store clerks, and attendents that may help me in life. I have decided during career week lessons to have a class discussion about the skills (like reading, math, physical strength, etc) that are needed for factory jobs, waitress jobs, store clerks, etc. Since some of my students will go to college and the majority of others will end up in places like Ehrenreich, I want them to feel good about what they're doing. I was thinking the other day of a school custodian job (you know this is a constant source of aggravation for me) and thinking what kind of skills a really good custodian would need. The skills would include: measuring cleaning products and mixing them appropriately and knowing when to order new product; and how to fill out the order requests; how to read the clock to stick to your schedule; people skills to handle situations/emergencies; how to operate equipment (lawn mowers, floor buffers); organization to put away furniture and supplies in small storage spaces; and other similar problem solving. Even what appears to be the "lowliest" job at our school is quite mentally demanding; not to mention the physical demands (if ours really did all those things :lol: ). I respect Ehrenreich for conducting this research...I don't know if I could cut it.

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Sat Jun 10, 2006 1:32 pm
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I can't think of any job that doesn't require a certain skill. I wasn't groomed for college or the teaching profession. I thought I was factory material. I worked in a factory for nearly 15 years. My wardrobe consisted of jeans, tee shirts, and tennis shoes. I had a few church clothes but they were never worn other than for church. When I began substituting I had a terrible time shopping for clothes. I didn't have a clue what to get. It was awful. My point is that there are reasons and skills needed for just about everything we undertake to do, even shopping. Hugs Elaine


Sat Jun 10, 2006 6:56 pm
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I just left a store and I found myself looking at the employees differently after reading the book - Nickeled and Dimed. I made sure that I put things back just as I had found them. I overheard two of girls talking about why they didn't wear watches to work - they would keep looking at them and time would go by so slowly. Good idea I thought. Their positions might appear unskilled, but I tried to notice all the things they were having to do - sorting and organizing, pricing, assisting customers with a smiling face, making change, working that credit card machine (Boy, did they ever push a lot of buttons!), discounting sale items, and I could go on. They were doing things that I cannot do. Maybe I'm the unskilled one.
And another thing, my husband and I were discussing a family friend that just graduated from high school today, and he is undecided about his future path. Luckily, he can live at home until he comes up with something. But many people don't have that option. One of my student's mother is struggling to make it right now. She is separated from her husband, she is trying to work at Hardee's, but now with school out, she has no one to watch the kids while she works. She has checked into day care, but that costs more than she makes. And she has to buy food, rent an apartment, buy gas, etc. The author of the book did not have to worry about children. She might have failed at her experiment much sooner if that had of been the case.


Sat Jun 10, 2006 8:06 pm
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I was doing the same stuff Stella. I had to stay in a hotel in Charlotte this weekend and I tried to be so nice to the cleaning lady. I'm glad to have this new look on the people that help us make our days possible. I can see how my attitude toward the everyday workers will change. It really isn't that hard to give someone a smile at WalMart or thank someone who is helping at a hotel or pick up a little at a place like Jerry's. Thanks Gayle for having his look at this book more closely.

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Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:12 pm
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It does make you think more about how you treat others and how people are perceived by the type of job they perform. I thought it was interesting how on page 100 she was treated according to what type clothes or uniform she had been wearing that day. She said she was getting a glimpse of what it was like to be black.


Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:29 pm
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