Nickel and Dimed

Barbara Ehrenreich

Our sharpest and most unique social critic goes “undercover” as an unskilled employee to disclose the darkish aspect of American prosperity.

Thousands and thousands of People work full time, yr spherical, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich determined to hitch them. She was impressed partially by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised job — any job — might be the ticket to a greater life. However how does anybody survive, not to mention prosper, on $6 an hour? To seek out out, Ehrenreich left her dwelling, took the most cost effective lodgings she may discover, and accepted no matter jobs she was supplied. Shifting from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she labored as a waitress, a lodge maid, a cleansing girl, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart gross sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. In a short time, she found that no job is actually “unskilled,” that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting psychological and muscular effort. She additionally discovered that one job just isn’t sufficient; you want at the least two if you happen to int to reside indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiousness, and stunning generosity — a land of Large Containers, quick meals, and a thousand determined stratagems for survival. Learn it for the smoldering readability of Ehrenreich’s perspective and for a uncommon view of how “prosperity” seems to be from the underside. You’ll by no means see something — from a motel lavatory to a restaurant meal — in fairly the identical means once more.