Nickled and Dimed a Writer's Story
I found Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed a great piece on what is wrong with the so called "American Dream." Her take on working on nearly minimum wage in low end labor or service jobs as insightful indictment on what the American Dream is about in a highly sophisticated capitalist culture. What I found most interesting was not so much the jobs she worked (at least the ones she described through Chapter 1), but what she unearthed about the application and interviewing process. One of these said gems was when she applied to many entry level jobs that had applications or help wanted signs such as Winn-Dixie, Best Western, a bed and breakfeast, etc.. Only to find out that they do this on a continous basis even when an opening does not exist due to the nature of their labor market which has a short expectancy. Ehrenreich was orginally outragged upon finding out that she had not received any responses to her applications despite being well qualified. It was upon further investigation that she found out the underlying current that existed in this low end job market, which was that the employers always ran help wanted and accepted applications to keep a pool of secondary candidates available since their job market was cylical. I found that facinating because in most cases when writers discusses a particular subject such as ones ability to survive on a miniscue wage they ponder about the socio-economic ills of capitalist society. This piece of information I have not seen explored in any other article about this subject.
The other parts of her trials and tribulations I found interesting as well. I can't imagine that working as a waitress in a dinner would not have a little bit of humor and interest to it as human story. Although this is toil, sitcoms such as Al's Dinner" and "Cheers," were built on the stories of customers, waitresses, and bartenders. Her introduction where she gives the reader a backdrop as to her motivation helped give us a sense as to the direction she is going as a writer and allowed us to understand some of her quirkeness as to why she would take on such a project. Any time you open an intro with eating lunch at a $30 per plate French cafe and talk about plunging into doing a reflective story on being a low waged earner yourself gets the attention of the reader. So far I also enjoyed the fact that she is telling a story of what it is like living in this world of a low wage worker without lecturing on the social ills that produce such an environment. She even makes a wisecrack to herself promising not to take on a "Marxist," view of American society as takes on this project.
As we move further in this class I have began to look at our reading assignments more analytically and I have tried to emulate some of the strategies into my own writing. I plan to take what I consider Ehrenreich's fresh take on working near poverty level into my own paper. The ability to write something unique and enriching is what I find seperates a great story or essay from an average one. I hope the rest of Ehrenreich's story brings some more insight not written about or looked into.