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 Nickel and Dimed Issues 
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I was so shocked, while reading Nickel and Dimed, at the housing situations. I never really thought about it, but if you are an adult making minimum wage or below it would be very difficult-almost impossible to afford a decent place to live. I can't believe some of the characters from the book lived in their car. Nor can I believe that a husband,wife and friend lived in a hotel room and allowed other people to take showers in their room. Why is society not doing anything about this? Are there any solutions to the lack of affordable housing? The sad thing is is that a couple students at our school are in this situation. Some have lived in tents before, others do not have running water.

Who decides what minimum wage is and how do they decide how much it should be?

Most of the workers in the book did not receive benefits or health insurance. How are they supposed to live in these situations? It's not fair. What about their children?

If the people from the book had the opportunity to get out of this life style, live in a better neighborhood, and have a good paying job with benefits take it or would they stay where they are? Does it depend on how they were raised and what they have always known?

Would any of you do what Barbara Ehrenreich did? Would you leave the life you have now to work at a low paying job without benefits and live in a trailor park or in a car just for experimental purposes? I know I wouldn't.

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Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:44 pm
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I wouldn't live that lifestyle if I didn't have to, especially just to write another book. And if I was to do it, I wouldn't work in a)housekeeping, b)a nursing home, or c)waitressing. She picked the three hardest jobs there are. I guess that was part of her research. I was glad she got an easier job in Wal Mart. That would have been my first choice! A lot of teachers knock our salary, but when it comes to insurance, you have to admit, we have it really good! I had some surgery a coupla years ago, my bill was $24,000, and I paid only $2,000! We do have excellent insurance with no premiums! When I read in Nickel and Dimed about their not having insurance, it made me very grateful for ours!

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Suzanne Averett


Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:23 pm
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I tell you what...I have been a waitress a couple of different times in my life, and though it was nice to have the immediate gratification of cash in hand, it had to be one of the most stressful jobs I have had. And as "Barb" explained, when you had a rush of many at one time, it was chaotic. You might as well forget your tip then, consequently not being your fault.

Another thing she mentioned about the waitressing job was the Sunday crowd. I HATED working Sundays! You would think that all those fresh out of church would be full of the spirit of the Lord, yet they were the MOST HATEFUL customers who would leave $1 tips. An oxymoron, huh?!?

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Emily Elkins


Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:48 pm
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It is interesting that in the past, several times when dealing with money issues as a married couple, I have asked the question how people make it in jobs such as gas station attendents or as fast food workers. THis was an eye-opening book.

I was curious to hear all she'd say about Wal-Mart, especially since the chain has been in the news somewhat recently for unfair practices towards women and "not given" meal breaks.

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Emily Elkins


Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:09 pm
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By the way...I resent the clothing in Wal-Mart that B.E. described as "chunky, fourth grade teacher clothes!" HOW RUDE!!!!

(Hey Wal-Mart has some cool clothes!)

(I need a sticking my tougue out smilie!)

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Emily Elkins


Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:12 pm
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Hey Emily! I was hurt by what she said about teachers also. I buy lots of things at Wal-Mart. I don't have a lot of money to spend on a wardrobe. Barbara needs to get down from her high horse. Maybe she had such a difficult time with this experiment because she feels that she is above all of it. Even after she was finished, she still continued to judge people. Her experiment did little to change her view point. She did realize how difficult it was and she did realize that she just could not cut it.


Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:00 am
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I know someone wrote that they have a much higher respect for people who work in these minimum wage jobs. I know my eyes were opened when my dad lost his high paying supervisors job at a furniture factory and after two years of searching ended up at Wal-Mart. My dad works very hard and still does not make hardly anything and never will if he stays there, but he loves it!

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Deeana Searcy Ray


Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:44 am
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How about that comment that she stated about being qualified to work at Winn-Dixie you needed "permed" hair. I thought that was interesting and humorous. It reminded me of my first job working at Baskin-Robbins in Winston-Salem. After hours of reaching into the deep freeze for the scoops, your hair would feel like a frozen replica of the Bride of Frankenstein hair-do. It was that brittle and straight. :P

You know I really admire her for her tenacity and the ability to move to three different locales and try different jobs in those areas.

I would really like to put some of my grumbling parents in my shoes for a day to see how teachers really do earn their money.

Charlotte[/b]

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Charlotte_Frye


Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:22 pm
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It was sad to read about these people that Barb encountered in attempt to try out how the poor live. Going from job to job in search of better working conditions, higher pay, if you will, and living with many people whom you might not know well. It is an injustice for low wage workers not to have insurance from the businesses they work at. If they are injured they can't work, can''t pay bills, etc. It is a vicious cylce and many can't get out of it if they tried. It seems our society is too busy taking care of other countries problems and not taking care of our own.

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Ann Paschal


Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:58 pm
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Waitressing is really hard, a real art. I was working at Cracker Barrel two years ago and only made $30 a night after 5 or 6 hours of work. I only really had two tables and though it was "my section", another waitress could always grab one of your tables to make hers a party of 10. So, the "shark" waitresses always grabbed my tables and said, "you can get the next party of 10". It never worked out in my favor. Then, one day out of nowhere I got two parties of 10 at the same time. I was answering a "to go " order and because I couldn't call the party back to clarify the order , the table I thought was going along smoothly started to complain about refills. What I'm saying is that simple things can throw you off in the waitressing world.
And I can see how the low pay would cause waitresses to do dishonest things. One waiter bragged about how he got $70 bucks one night and started wheeling off his tips to the rest of us gape-mouthed waitresses. He said, bring extra napkins before they can ask, make cute comments about thier kids, always bring extra biscuits and jam and refill the drinks. Bend down to take thier order, like you've known them forever-be a friend so to speak. These were his words of waiter wisdom. The next night he was fired-for what? :cry: for giving too much free gravy and salads to the customers. When they get their bill, the money they saved goes to the waiter, and of course these regulars request the same waiters every time.
It was interesting working at Cracker Barrel and I almost made it to "par 4" where you can get a discount on your meals. But I quit, it wasn't worth it really and it interferred with my real teaching position.

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Suzanne McMahon


Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:45 pm
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I can't stop thinking about the topic of child care for people living in poverty. Is there not any government organization set up to help? Remember in the video "People Like Us" the lady living in poverty said that her friends wondered why she worked because she didn't quailfy for services. I never realized that you could do better finacially not working, if you qualify. Has the qualifications for services changed any over the last few years? My mom was a food stamp supervisior in Burke County for 25 years and she just comments that "it is a huge mess."

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Melia Waters


Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:58 pm
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It is sad that people are better of being on welfare as far as being able to take care of their kids. My niece has 4 children and it was cheaper for her to stay at home than go to work to and pay for daycare.

You try to be a productive citizen, to go out and get a job so you don't depend on welfare, and our gov. makes it so hard to do. Why?

If we raise the minimum wage what does that do to the employer? CAn they afford the employees?

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Ann Paschal


Tue Jun 13, 2006 9:11 pm
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What I found amazing about the novel is how the author mentioned how a person working two jobs at minimum wage can still fall below the poverty level. When I was in high school and college I worked as a waitress to pay for my car, books, etc. After I graduated from college, I had a very difficult time finding a teaching position. The market was literally saturated with teachers. I remember thinking, " I can't do this for the rest of my life." Although my boss was kind as well as my shift supervisors, I couldn't imagine living on $2.10 an hour plus tips. What most people don't realize is how your tips vary. Some nights I could easily make $50.00 whereas other evenings it would be only $20.00. The money is certainly not consistent, nor worth the effort and abuse many must contend with. I know I received more "respect" when I told my customers I was a teacher waiting for the "call". Then, some of the customers saw me more as an equal. Others (like what Eric said last night) would never view a "waitress" in such a manner.

I definitely have a greater appreciation for these individuals. Although teachers don't make a "grand" salary, we are not dependent on the moods and tips of others. We are "professionals" and receive benefits that many cannot afford. I think it was a more difficult project for the author because she came from a certain class and probably was never exposed to "blue collar" workers. Maybe this is where her frequent degrading comments originated from. I think it's a shame that a country like ours not only has poor, but the "working poor."

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Nicole Atkins


Wed Jun 14, 2006 3:28 pm
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