Nickel and Dimed

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Daniel Manoni Lisa Aurello Composition ENG H101 11 November 2009 Nickel and Dimed Essay In Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich delves into the `third world' of America while attempting to make a living. She undertakes many noble trades, working in low wage and underappreciated jobs while trying to figure out how the people of this country do it every day. She works at Hearthside and Jerry's in Florida waitressing, with The Maids in Maine cleaning houses, and with Wal-Mart in Minnesota, serving their `guests', all while earning the minimum wage. She also looks to examine the functional and conflict theories of stratification as they relate to the low wage jobs she pursues. Two very different ideas are presented in the hierarchy of…show more content…
Not wanting to run out of money, she finds a job with a maid service, and an additional side job with a nursing home. The nursing home turns out to be a welcome relief and a place of refuge for her. While there, she feels relaxed and at home. This is a part of functionalist theory at work. She has acquired special skills from her Florida jobs, and puts them to work in the nursing home. She is "rewarded" by the residents of the hall; they smile at her, compliment her, and make her feel good about her job. She feels accomplished in this capacity as a `dietary aide'. The second job she holds down is with The Maids. This job entails a 7:30 - 3:30 work day at $6.65 an hour. This is the best paid and nicest looking maid job she encountered, and chooses to work there. She quickly finds out, however, the societal downfall of being a maid. Every house she goes to, the homeowners are rude, and often very ‘standoffish’. They seem to want no part of a maid, the class of workers that is ‘below all others’, in their eyes. "Were nothing to these people...nor are we much to anyone else," (100) one of her coworkers explained. She encounters, in this job, another problem with the low wage workers, injury. There are instances where one of the maids is hurt, or hurting, but will not get help. She cannot understand why they won't help themselves and seek medical attention. They are afraid of losing their jobs. The slightest

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