Nickel and Dimed
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Nickel and Dimed is a classic example of research that shows what a vast number of Americans do to get by each day in the United States. I have read the book before in another class and it is very informative, telling a story that most Americans do not know. On average, I would assume that most people of the middle and upper class America do not know what those who are less fortunate do to get by. Barbara Ehrenreich leaves behind her pretty well off life to put herself in the same work force as those she is studying. Her goal is to see how the 30% of the workforce that makes under $8 an hour get by and what conditions they must make due with.

Upon filling out applications, it surprises me how little the employers seem to want to know about who they are hiring. The author states that they ask her little more than if she is a legal citizen and whether she is a felon. You would think that people would ask a lot more if you are applying to work at a hotel since you have such close contact with the sleeping quarters of guests. She also goes three days after filling out about 20 applications without a phone call from anyplace she applied. She says this is probably because of the high turnover rate of the low-wage workforce. When in high school I used to work on a rather large horse farm that hired the same low wage workers that Barbara is trying to relate to. The farm hired women to work house keeping as well as their husbands to work for me and the farmhands in the stable and fields. The workers normally only last about a week or two before they leave and a few more workers are hired. The farm, like the hotel chains in Nickel and Dimed, keep an ad in the wanted paper pretty much year round.

The book and this article share a common intrest with Jonathan Kozol’s Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope. In both books, the author is trying to capture and direct the reader’s attention to some of the problems and strugles that people have to face each day. It is not unreasonable to assume that the people of society who Barbara was studying had the same sort of childhood that the children who Jonathan was studying had. Of course, there were obvious differences between people she studies around Key West and the children of New York. However, many of the parents of students in New York were trying to get by with the same sort of low class work. Both authors seem to have a deep interest to understand the customs and the set of circumstances surrounding the troubles of economicaly low class Americans. This is important to society because, I feel, in general people do care about those less fortunate than themselves. By writing such books the authors open our eyes to what goes on in our country.

Another important thing to take from books and articles describing and studying the less fortunate is what happens when you do not take advantage of every opportunity you get. I am not saying that the people Barbara and Jonathan study do not try their best to get the most out of life, just that these studies make you realize you should not take anything for granted. You realize that even though some people are brought up in less fortunate circumstances, people overcome obstacles that sometimes seem dire and make things happen for themselves. At the same time, you realize that some people have it rough from the start and make wrong decisions because of such situations.

In a report called the National Coalition for the Homeless in 1997, Barbara found that nearly one in five homeless people work part-time or full-time jobs. I find

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Work Force And Important Thing. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from