March 27, 2006
"Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich
"Nickel and Dimed" reads as smoothly and engagingly as many fictions I've read. Ehrenreich's story of her experiment living as a low wage worker was both fascinating and horrifying. Her description of working conditions in WalMart, family restaurants and cleaning services are vivid and answer many of the questions that the average middle class person asks but can't answer. She also does a really good job of debunking the idea that former welfare recipients are now thriving on the low wage jobs they found when welfare was reformed.
She not only discusses the actual day-to-day physical experiences but delves into how living as a low-wage worker quickly and thoroughly reduced her mental and emotion state to one focused on survival and on winning the approval of her supervisors at any cost. Although Ehrenreich's experiment was admittedly fixed - she had plenty of start-up allowance that the average WalMart employee does not, and she knew that she had an escape at the end of the experiement back into upper middle class comfort - her chronicle still reveals an often-invisible sector of our society that desperately needs to be looked at and addressed.
Jennifer N., reference
Posted by jnardine at March 27, 2006 11:20 AM