Reaction to "Nickel and DImed"
As I read the introduction of "Nickel and Dimed" I was thinking to myself, "Yeah, I've heard this before." There have been several examples of writers and fair wage advocates doing "experiments" like this, and the verdict is always that it is much harder to survive on minimum wage than they imagined. I have to give the author of this piece a lot of credit for the way she conveyed her experiences in written form. Instead of concentrating on the details of her finances (and she freely admits how she "cheated" by giving herself an optimal head start), she actually focuses on the various people she meets through her experiences and how it felt to begin to become one of them. Throughout the introduction she explains how she prepared herself to go without many luxuries and to work in boring, thankless jobs. What she obviously didn't prepare herself for was the emotional toll that working so hard just to maybe break even would take. This is best illustrated through the final episode at the diner when she finally quits and walks out. Even though I wanted to fault her for quiting and ending her venture prematurely, the truth is she really could leave any time she wanted and upon leaving didn't feel elated or releaved but just the sense of failure and disappointment in herself, showing that somewhere along the way she actually began to function at the level of those whose world she wanted to observe as an outsider.