Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Our sharpest and most original social critic goes "undercover" as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity.
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 -- can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. 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 int to live indoors.
Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent 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 -- in quite the same way again.
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - Charon07 - LibraryThing
No big surprises here, but still a horrifying look at the problem of the working poor in America. After going "undercover" as an unskilled worker, Ehrenreich discovers that it's just about impossible ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - magonistarevolt - LibraryThing
This book is a good expose on the myth that the United States is a classless society, an assertion so blind that it would be comical if it were not one of the major myths perpetrated by corporate ... Read full review
Serving in Florida
Scrubbing in Maine
Selling in Minnesota