Sunday, January 24, 2016

Power and Class

Throughout the first two chapters of the book Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, Ehrenreich jumps from low paying job to low paying job, trying to make ends meet, with the highest quality of life possible. She entertains jobs such as waitressing, housekeeping, and working at a nursing home. In some jobs she has more freedom, or “say,” then others. I found that the job that Ehrenreich gets the most say in is the job where she cleans wealthy people’s homes. She describes a story where one of the people on her cleaning team, Holly, hurts her ankle. Ehrenreich insists that Holly can’t work on the ankle but Holly, scared of getting in trouble, calls the boss Ted and apologizes for no reason. At this point Ehrenreich gets fed up, takes the phone, and proceeds to angrily tell Ted that he doesn’t treat his employees fairly and he needs to change the way he works. She hangs up the phone and expects to get fired the next time she seems him, but that isn’t what happens. Ted actually decides to give her a raise and tries to convince her that he really isn’t that bad of a guy. I believe that this is when Ehrenreich realizes that even when she is in a low paying job she can stand up authority and try to push for what is right. She communicates effectively with her boss and is able to get a raise and push for some change. She was also able to collaborate a fair amount with the two employees in her group, Holly and Marge. When she is working as a waitress, especially at Jerry’s, she is not able to communicate with her coworkers, or give constructive criticism. I also found it interesting how the lower paying jobs, the less "say" she had.