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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America Paperback – May 1, 2002
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From The New Yorker
This exposé puts human flesh on the bones of such abstractions as "living wage" and "affordable housing." Ehrenreich worked, for a month at a time, at "unskilled" jobs—as a waitress and chambermaid in Florida, a housecleaner and nursing-home aide in Maine, a Wal-Mart clerk in Minnesota—to report on how people survive on wages of six or seven dollars an hour. In an easy, conversational style, she brings us the daily life of the working poor and shows that their diligence and good nature cannot earn them a place to live—a social worker advised Ehrenreich to move to a shelter—or medical or dental care or, in some cases, enough to eat. In her last chapter, Ehrenreich suggests that the working poor are "the major philanthropists of our society," sacrificing their families, their health, their privacy, and their leisure so that the rest of us can live more cheaply and conveniently.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
--Diana Henriques, The New York Times [Business Section]
"Jarring, full of riveting grit . . . This book is already unforgettable."
--Susannah Meadows, Newsweek
"Angry, amusing . . . An in-your-face expose."
--Anne Colamosca, Business Week
"With grace and wit, Ehrenreich discovers . . . the irony of being nickel and dimed during unprecedented prosperity."
--Eileen Boris, The Boston Globe
"Ehrenreich is a superb and relaxed stylist [with] a tremendous sense of rueful humor."
--Stephen Metcalf, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Barbara Ehrenreich . . . is our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism."
--Dorothy Gallagher, The New York Times Book
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I believe this book was needed to bring this issue into the public eye and I'm for one glad she wrote it, even though I don't really consider her as having really lived like those she wrote about. Her experiences were fake, she knew she had money to fall back on, she never really had to "worry" as so many do. She even called a doctor and basically demanded a prescription for a rash...... Something no working poor could have done. They would have suffered until they could no longer take it, then they would have seen a doctor....which they probably would have lost time from work and money. The trickle down affect their housing, food, etc.
The generosity and compassion she received from those she worked alongside, even the very short time they knew her, was a testament about the goodness of people.
I found myself in a national chain variety store buying cat treats yesterday and I almost put them back thinking that the lady ringing me out would look at this as a waste of money as she probably is making due on a small budget. Being a childless women in a world that makes kids the golden calf I fully understood the comments of her co-workers while they cleaned for or served a meal to the "client". Longing can come from any everyday situation, a running shoe display as seen from the low angel of a wheel chair, a cart full of kids back to school supplies passing a lady who's childless, or a holiday spent in an empty house. But this book brings us back to the all too often hidden longings of thousands of people for simple things like a safe place to live, a hot dinner, and a chance to rest a sore back. I'll keep this book to read again and again. I'll also go from tipping 15% to 20% and be even nicer to the folks that stand behind counters. I never had a maid, for many of the same reasons bought out in the book, but if I ever need household help I will not be the boss, just the very thankful person being helped.
Dr. Tracy Brower, author, Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations. http://www.tracybrower.com/the-4-day-school-week-why-its-not-that-easy-for-families-or-work-life/