Nickel and Dimed

[Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Curl Neophyte
Nickel and Dimed
On (Not) Getting By in America

by Barbara Ehrenreich

Millions of Americans work full-time, year-round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- could be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on six to seven dollars an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered as a woefully inexperienced homemaker returning to the workforce. So began a grueling, hair raising, and darkly funny odyssey through the underside of working America.

Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, Ehrenreich worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-wage America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. You will never see anything -- from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal -- quite the same way again.
Maudie


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Comments

  • starinastarina Posts: 665Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Maudie, this has been on my book list for a long time. One of these days I will find the time to read it!
    I have 3A hair. I've discovered Jessicurl shampoo and Too Shea conditioner and I'm thrilled! Long-time LA Looks sport gel user.
  • SmithsGirlSmithsGirl Posts: 100Registered Users
    I enjoyed it and appreciate that Ehrenreich called attention to the subject by writing this book, but I don't think it is an accurate portrayal of the lives of the "working poor." Ehrenreich had the luxury of being able to end her experiments when she found she couldn't make ends meet. The actual working poor just have to suck it up and keep going.

    That being said, it does make you think twice about the folks who serve you at restaurants, clean your hotel rooms or check your items out at Wal-mart. Definitely worth reading.
    "In the days when you were hopeless and poor, I just liked you more."

    formerly jodib70
    3a/3b, baby fine; growth goal: bra strap length.
  • jennifermcbjennifermcb Posts: 10Registered Users
    Nickel and Dimed was a great, enlightening book. I also read and learned a lot from "The Working Poor."
  • susancnwsusancnw Posts: 1,374Registered Users Curl Novice
    I thought it was crap. I have a link on my computer at work to an article in the Charleston SC paper (I think) that a young man did his own 'social' experiment. After college graduation he took $25 and a bus ticket to another town to see if the American Dream was still attainable. He had certain goals in mind (like anyone does). He didn't use his education, contacts, anything and did quite well for himself. Started out in homeless shelters, day labor, etc. That was also VERY enlightening and really inspirational. Much more so that her book.
    My son wears combat boots (and a parachute). So does my son-in-law.
    The older I get, the less patience I have with cleverness. Thomas Sowell.
    Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve. Benjamin Franklin.
    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain.

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  • ninja dogninja dog Posts: 23,780Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    I liked it.
  • freshwaterpearlfreshwaterpearl Posts: 305Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    It was a good book. Unfortunately what it does not show is an accurate portrayal of the daily struggle of the working class she left alot variables out of her research and she actually had control of her enviroment if someone would've controlled the setting that she was placed in; it would've made a far more interesting read.

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