Friday, October 21, 2005

Books



Alice Hoffman is one of my favorites. What I always like about this author, besides her finely crafted words, are the stories. Always intriguing, always human, always thoughtful.



This one by Barbara Ehrenreich made me think. She goes "undercover" and works as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing home aid, and Wal-Mart salesperson.
Long ago I worked some of these jobs myself, so I know how back breaking some of them are. Her stories about what these jobs are like did not surprise me. What did surprise me is just how far short of a decent (ie "indoor")living they can provide.
I realized that a critical differrence for me was that I did them as a student, and I did them with hope for a better life in the future. Millions of Americans are working for poverty level wages, they are working hard, and they are not surviving.

3 comments:

Ellen said...

I read Nickel and Dimed awhile ago and found, like you, that it got me thinking. I found the author's descriptions of her co-workers and their hardscrabble existance, focused mostly on television and getting high, to be the most interesting part of the story. I was also struck by her insight into the women who "trashed" the clothing areas of Wal-Mart because it was the best opportunity life offered them to rebel. The bleak existance of people working lifetimes in dead-end jobs while living in poverty is heartbreaking, there is no doubt about that. Unfortuneatly I see only harder times ahead for these folks, with the current surging fuel prices and the inevitable inflation that will follow.

Debra Spincic said...

My mother was telling me about a TV interview she saw in her area and the TV spokesperson was trying to make the point that imported goods were priced too low and that the foreign workers were paid too little. He was in Wal-Mart at the time. He turned to a female customer & asked her if the foreign worker should be paid more and her reply was very interesting, "Probably, but I can hardly afford the prices now and I am a full-time worker in the US. I could not afford these clothes if the worker made more money. What about my salary" Of course we all know about the mark up but apparently this US worker was not feeling any justice. Mother said the interview came to a quick halt and the TV program changed tactics. It is a sad commentary on life in the US.

Samantha said...

I work at an organization that daily serves the needs of poor and/or homeless women and kids, and Nickel and Dimed was attimes hard for me to read. Ehrenreich kept so many luxuries- like her car... I see women daily who can't work because they can't afford $2.50 per day in bus fare. I am still daily shocked and amazed by how many folks work 2 or more jobs, and can never get ahead. Chilling... If you enjoyed that read- or at least were intrigued- Ihave a list of other reads you might like! Let me know...