UnderCover Waitress: Nickel and Dimed

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nickel and Dimed

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Just started reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. Ehrenreich went "undercover" as a low-wage earner, working various jobs including waitress. Her experiment was to see how easy or difficult it really was to support oneself on the wages that so many subsist on.

As she switched from place to place and job to job, she would tell co-workers that she had bonded with that she was leaving because she was a writer. She let them know that she was taking notes for a book. Ehrenreich admits in the Introduction that she was surprised by her new friends' reactions. Rather than being shocked or surprised, they were simply disappointed that she wouldn't be back. "Does this mean you won't be here for tomorrow night's shift?"

Poor people may be intelligent and creative. They may have various talents and abilities. They simply cannot make enough money to dig themselves out, not because they are stupid, but rather because it is too difficult to save when you are earning next to nothing.

The book is a great read so far.


  1. It is a great book.

    Something hit me the other day as I was reading yet one more article about the 47 million or so who have no health insurance and how a 24 year-old Cincinnati man died because he could not afford antibiotics to treat his infected wisdom teeth. The news and usual college professors cited this as an example of why we need national health, public option, etc.

    And it hit me like a ton of bricks that the privileged classes do not see this as a problem. They see it as modern-day natural selection.

  2. I would love to quote you. How succinct, insightful and and perfect.


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