Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dear anti-living wage bunch,

I have seen your posts on social media.

They often depict a clerk or service provider as stupid, unable to make change, misspelling something obvious or just as a lazy ne'er do well. Then comes the clich├ęd and unfunny punch line: THIS PERSON WANTS $11 AN HOUR! Bloated indignation in the comment section ensues.

So you're against a living wage. Okay, fine. While I think you're wrong, this post isn't about the politics of the issue. It's about your rudeness. It's about you casting an entire class of hard working people as idiots.

Including my kid.

My then-16-year-old worked for a year for pennies over the minimum wage at a fast food complex near a major highway. Before she left the job on account of being out of town most of the summer, she waded through her share of experience.

Let's start with driving the Mini (standard transmission) through harrowing snow storms to get to her job on time, a particularly challenging task on account of some of the hills around here. The parking lot designated for workers at her place of employment was almost never plowed, so upon leaving, she'd have to enlist the help of her coworkers to dig/push her out while you were on your third Budweiser, belching in front of a Duck Dynasty rerun (Gee ... I probably shouldn't generalize like that, huh?)

I often told her that her job was more important than people understood.

"People are out on the road in a storm," I'd say. "They're stressed out by the weather. Maybe they're trying to get home. Maybe they're going to work. Maybe they've been on the road for hours and have hours more to go.

"When they come in and you serve up a smile and a steaming cup of coffee, it gives them an instant lift and sense of relief. They can recharge, take a few minutes and relax before they go back out in the weather," I told her. "What you do is important."

Every word of that is true and you know it.

Last winter was brutal. It seemed the kid had to work every time we got pounded with a blizzard. Not one word of complaint came out of her mouth. She'd often get home at 10 or 11 p.m. knowing full well she had to get up at 6 a.m. to get herself to school and two other kids who depended on her for a ride.

Then of course, there were the customers. Some were decent. Some were indifferent. Some were awful. Which one were you? The kid gave her best to all of them.

To that end, she has a standing invitation to return to that job.

Here's an idea: Maybe you can find a cartoon of a bunch of minimum wage workers digging each other out of a snow drift. Or dealing calmly with irrational screaming customers. Or cleaning tables, floors and equipment in between rushes. Because the inaccurate and insulting depictions you are posting say more about you than they'll ever say about the millions of hard working people you take for granted.

As for my kid being unworthy of $11 an hour, she's worth twice that and then some.

*  *  *


Michael Lawless said...

Thanks, Erin. It's not just an entry level job anymore.

Tony Rugare said...

Here! Here!

Bill said...

a 16 year old works in a fast food restaurant and earns a living wage. Definition of utopia.

J9 said...

When you get really tired of hearing all the cute stories of wait staff who are barely capable, go here and get an eyeful of what dealing with the public is like:

Martin Kukich said...