NICKEL AND DIMED BOOK REPORT Barbara Ehrenreich is a journalist who wrote the book Nickel and Dimed. She goes undercover to see how it feels to work for $6 to $7 an hour. She leaves her regular life to explore the experiences of a minimum wage worker. Ehrenreich travels to Florida, Maine, and Minnesota, looking for jobs and places to live on a minimum wage salary. At one point in time, she had to work two jobs to makes ends meet. As she worked all these jobs, she discovered many problems in the social world.
The things she went through were not the types of situations that she usually experienced. She wasn’t used to living and working environments of the poor. She had to deal with the different personalities and customs of her co-workers, their living arrangement, and the management hierarchy in each job. She worked as a waitress at two different restaurants, as a maid service cleaning houses, and as a dietary aide at a nursing home.
Ehrenreich didn’t want to be a waitress any more than some waitresses, but she did it for her research. Ehrenreich once stated that, “Waitress sing is also something I’d like to avoid, because I remember it leaving me bone-tired when I was eighteen.” (13).
Her first job was at Hearthside, a restaurant in Key West, Florida. She was hired as a waitress, starting at $2. 43 plus tips. She worked the afternoon shift.
Hearthside was being managed by a West Indian man by name of Phillip. The management wasn’t the best. They treated their employees disrespectfully. At an employee meeting, they were threatened by the management. Ehrenreich stated, “I have not been treated this way-lined up in the corridor, threatened with locker searches, peppered with carelessly aimed accusation-since junior high school” (24).
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When they were just standing around, the manager would give them extra work to do. According to Ehrenreich, “You start dragging out each little chore because if the manager on duty catches you in an idle moment, he will give you something far nastier to do. So I wipe, I clean, consolidate catsups bottles and recheck the cheesecake supply, even tour the tables to make sure the customer evaluation is standing perkily.” (22).
They were hired at Hearthside to serve the customers. There are twenty-six tables in the whole restaurant.
All the food must be placed on the food trays; small items were to be carried in a bowl, and no refills on the lemonade (17).
Everyone got along with each other. They would cover each other’s back if someone wanted to take a smoke or “pee” break. When they would have an employee meeting, each person was for himself. Ehrenreich explained how “Joan complains about the condition of the ladies’ room and I throw in my two bits about the vacuum cleaner.
But I didn’t see any backup coming from my fellow servers, each of whom has slipped into her own personal funk; Gail, my role model, stares sorrowfully at a point six inches from her nose.” (24).
Ehrenreich learned the entire staff of Hearthside had difficulty with their living arrangements. After a week, Ehrenreich compiled the following survey: Gail is sharing a room in a well-known downtown flophouse for $250 a week. Her roommate, a male friend, has begun hitting her, driving her nuts, but the rent would be impossible alone.
Claude, the Haitian cook, is desperate to get out the two-bedroom apartment he shares with his girlfriend and two other unrelated people. ” As far as I can determine, the other Haitian men live similarly crowded situations. Annette, a twenty-year old server who is six months pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend, lives with her mother, a postal clerk. Marianne, who is a breakfast server, and her boyfriend are paying $170 a week for a one-person trailer. Billy, who at $10 an hour is the wealthiest of us, lives in the trailer he owns, paying only the $400-a month lot fee” (26).
Getting by with more than money In the book Nickel and Dimed On (not) Getting By in America the author Ehrenreich, goes under cover as a minimum wage worker. Ehrenreich's primary reason for seriptiously getting low paying jobs is to see if she can "match income to expenses as the truly poor attempt to do everyday." (Ehrenreich 6) Also Ehrenreich makes it extremely clear that her work was not ...
No one made enough money to stay in a decent place to live.
While still working at Hearthside, she searched for another job so that she would have enough money to maintain a minimal standard of living. Ehrenreich’s second job was working at another restaurant named Jerry’s. She stated, “The management at Jerry’s is generally calmer and more professional.” (36).
One particular time the manager, B. J. , approached her in the face.
Ehrenreich explained “Instead of saying you are fired, she says you are doing fine. The only trouble is I’m spending time chatting with customers.” (36).
Jerry’s had more customers the Hearthside, so there was more work to do. She was there to serve the Customers and move orders from the kitchen to the tables.
The co-workers were very supportive of each other. According to Ehrenreich, “All in all we form a reliable mutual-support group.” She discovers “Of her fellow servers everyone lacks a husband or boyfriend to work a second job” (39).
At Jerry’s everyone had living problems, but not as bad as Hearthside. Ehrenreich discovered that the girls who trained her in another trailer home dweller and mother of three (40).
She also discovers the dishwasher “shares an apartment with a crowd of other Czech dishes,” as he calls them, and he can’t sleep until one of them goes off to work his shift, leaving a vacant bed (38).
She is now staying in Maine, starting all over again, looking for a place to stay and work.
In the state of Maine, there were job fairs for people. Ehrenreich’s third job was similar to her first two jobs in Florida. She was hired as a dietary aide at Woodcrest Nursing Home. She was hired by a middle age woman, who didn’t have any problems warning her about the owner’s son. She took time to show Ehrenreich around. Unlike her other places of employment, the nursing home placed her with a co-worker to train her.
The present study explored the factor structure of engagement and its relationship with job satisfaction. The authors hypothesize that work engagement comprises 3 constructs: vigor, dedication, and absorption. Using structural equation modeling, the authors analyze data from 3 archival data sets to determine the factor structure of engagement. In addition, they examine the hypothesis that ...
Her duty as a dietary aide was to serve the residents of the nursing home. She would serve beverages of the residents’ choices, or diet for breakfast or lunch. Shortly after the Residents are done eating, they would clean up the dining room for lunch. Ehrenreich stated, “Linda had me vacuuming the carpet in the dining room, which really doesn’t do anything for sticky patches, so there’s a lot of climbing under tables and scratching mashed muffins off the floor with my fingernails.” (64).
The employees were not the best people to work with.
They were all different in many ways and were dishonest. Ehrenreich was told to “watch out for Leon too, who has a habit of following his female co-workers into service closets” (64-65).
Working at Woodcrest, Ehrenreich had to follow all of the rules and regulations about who got food because there were many residents with do’s and don ” ts pertaining to their diet. Ehrenreich’s next job was working for a maid service there were more requirements for the job. She had to take a test before working for the company. The boss of the maids was Ted and the off manager was Tammy.
If any of their customers had any complaints, they would talk to Ted or Tammy. Another supervisor’s name was Liz. She is the highest paid in the company, and she is supposed to be a snitch. Maybe that is how she got the position, by snitching all the time.
She watched four movies to show and explain to her what should be done by the maids. The videos were her training. The maid would have to dust, clean bathrooms, Kitchens and vacuum the houses. Ehrenreich was cleaning the kitchen floor on her hands and knees, without kneepad’s.
They didn’t use regular mops to clean floors. Ehrenreich stated “We don’t have sponge like the ones I use in my own house; the hands-and-knees approach is a definite selling point for corporate cleaning services like the maids” (83).
They were only allowed to use half a bucket of water for the kitchen and floors. Her co-workers were just regular people going to work everyday. They talk about their families and friends like everything was going fine with their life. Maddy, her co-worker, is having babysitter problems.
For nearly three years, one of the main activities of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has been to conduct a campaign for "reasonable working hours." It commenced with a survey completed in October 1999, which linked the sharp increase in working hours over the past two decades with stress-related illnesses and workplace accidents. Apart from occasional media releases, the "campaign" ...
Her boyfriend’s sister watched her youngest child for $50 a week, when a childcare service charged $90 a week (80).
Ehrenreich stated that another co-worker “Pauline, the oldest of us owns her own home, but she slept on the sofa, while her four grown children and three grandchildren fill up the bedrooms. But although no one, apparently, is sleeping in a car, there are signs, even at the beginning, of real difficulty if not actual misery” (79).
No one likes what they do for a living, but they got to do whatever it takes to make it in life. Yes, in the book Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich did face problems when working minimum wage jobs.
In each state, Ehrenreich works with different people, but having the same problems in the end. The challenges she faced was the different people she worked for, who seemed not to care about their employees as long as they came to work and did what they were told to do. The rules and regulations at each job were different, and never the same. All her fellow co-workers’ personalities were different. Some of them were nice to work with, but had so many things going wrong with their lives.
She had to adjust to her co-workers’ lifestyles and the way they support each other. It was a good experience for her and she was never in a situation that she could not get herself out of, even though she had other money saved up for those rainy days.