This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Stinespring AP English August 1st, 2010 AP English Language Questions for Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, 1011 Answer the following questions in complete sentences. Read carefully. The answers may be found in the reading. 1. Near the outset, Ehrenreich (speaking of her own sister) employs the term “wage slave.” What does she mean by this? Ehrenreich is referring to the hopelessness of going through one low paid job after another. Her sister will inevitably stay in her lower class position all her life unless she becomes a “skilled’ worker. Jobs like a phone company business rep, a factory worker, and a receptionist are the only jobs she will ever know being a wage slave.
2. What are the three rules the author sets for herself at the beginning of Nickel and Dimed? Does she
ever break them? If so, when and why, in your view, does she do so? Rule #1 “I could not, in my search for jobs, fall back on any skills derived from my education or usual work.” Rule #2 “I had to take the highest-paying job that was offered me and do my best to hold it.” Rule#3 “I had to take the cheapest accommodations I could find, at least the cheapest that offered an acceptable level of safety and privacy.” Yes. Ehrenreich breaks her rules. She should have classified her rules as guidelines. Many times she breaks the rules and lets the infractions remain small. She gets offered a job in a plumbing department at Menards late in the book that said to offer $10 an hour, but instead, chooses the Wal-Mart job at $7 an hour, breaking rule number two. I think she chooses the Wal-Mart job for its atmosphere over the plumbing job. Also, she might have been living too well if she made $10 an hour and would lose valid points in her book. Ehrenreich even admits, “I tried to stick to these rules, but in the course of the project, all of them were bent or broken…” She tells an interviewer that she could greet guests with the appropriate foreign language greeting, also breaking rule number one.
Gail shares an apartment with a male friend for $250 a week. I’m sorry. but it undermines my efficiency when I have to work alongside people who are crying. owns his own trailer. Early on. does this figure into the narrative? What does Ehrenreich’s scientific training bring to the “old-fashioned journalism” of this book? Ehrenreich’s training pointed her attention to living conditions more than someone who might have a business degree. Why does Ehrenreich assert in her Introduction that “a story about waiting for buses would not be very interesting to read”? What are the context and rationale for this remark? And given as much. 7. 6. Later. reliable. Holly. paying $400 a month for the lot. for $675 a month. the author meets a young dishwasher named George. Living alone. Early in Chapter One. Waiting tables at Jerry’s. but neither would a book about a white female complaining. Andy lives on a boat and Joan lives in her van. she lives in a “cabin” with a white floor and a firm mattress. an immigrant who needs a friend. in biology. Claude lives with three other people. they are in no measure. A book about waiting for buses would not be very interesting to read. using the extra money for gas and food (pg 12). At one point. Billy. she prepares a remark for Ted her boss. Reviewing these arrangements. if at all. in terms of low-wage work. In the book. Most of Ehrenriech’s coworkers parallel with her own $500 a month efficiency or pay more. she is starting to list off some untouchable luxuries that she will have at her disposal: driving her own car.D. the wealthiest at the Hearthside. Tina shares a room in Days Inn with her husband at $60 a night ($1. do you agree? Ehrenreich wants her book to be about being in the action rather than waiting to find action. Marianne lives with her boyfriend and shares a one-person trailer. Ehrenreich’s goal is to spend $500 or less for rent. not the color of a bus stop’s bench. Who is he? What is his story? Why do he and Ehrenreich befriend one another? And why does she not “intervene” . A person with a business degree would complain more about the businesses’ reputation or where their money goes towards rather than Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich details the living conditions of her fellow workers at the Hearthside. Ehrenriech seems well off to only pay $500 a month and have a solid roof over her head and a mattress. the author tells us that she has a Ph. Ehrenreich notes that. “I can put up with shit and snot and every other gross substance I encounter in this line of work.680 a month).” Explain why this is so.3. Gail spends $500 a month. Employers will put out a want ad for their job because “nobody lasts more than a couple of weeks” (pg 15). How. starving or otherwise visibly suffering” (pg 112). Obviously. She wants interesting details to report. after witnessing a coworker. surrounded by a swamp. “the want ads are not a reliable measure of the actual jobs available at any particular time. Many of Ehrenreich’s coworkers are living with other people to help pay rents. like when she refers to Jerry’s as a “fat person’s hell” and how she befriends George. 4. I tried to ignore it. fainting. 5. or a Rent-A-Wreck and using her ATM card if the question of food ever became serious. whether by month or week by week for four weeks. While in Key West. Ehrenreich receives no calls from the twenty places she applied off the want ads. break one of her bones. Pregnant Annette lives with her mother. At a $125 a week. After three days. She’s right. who focuses more on the lives of her coworkers and the conditions she works in. explain how each set-up compares with the author’s own “$500 efficiency” quarters. The only thing I’m squeamish about is human pain.
Then again. does the author encounter cheap talk or hollow slogans in her endeavors as a low-wage worker? What purposes might such empty language serve? Why is it so prevalent? At most. in a month or two more at Jerry’s. in her low-wage work. but is hardworking and desperate for eye contact. which deepens their relationship (She makes a note about it. On her first–and last–day of housekeeping in Key West. She had lost her crusading spirit and pondered if she would “regain” it. Ehrenreich plans to teach George fluent English. the kind of person who would have turned George in. Why did Ehrenreich not intervene? Well. Ehrenreich is met by a manager who addresses her as “babe” and gives her “a pamphlet emphasizing the need for a positive attitude. and when all that 90 or so percent of customers want is the “pubic hairs” removed. breaks one of her bones). He may have grown bitter in his rise to the top of the company. She learns that he was shipped over to Key West to work at the Hearthside. wealthy corporations.when she learns from an assistant manager that George is thought to be a thief? When Ehrenreich meets George. Many reasons may be suggested for empty talk between low wage employers and their employees. George is mistreated as an immigrant and is nonchalantly referred to as “Joseph” by a coworker who does not mind to correct herself. Ehrenreich knows a little about his home country.” Why is this? Why the deceit? Why does The Maids outfit not clean its clients’ homes properly? It is not so much deceit as it is giving the customer what they want. Most wealthy Americans want their lavish houses to look nice. asking for a cigarette. The boss may not care. He has a crew cut and an earring. In an extended footnote in Chapter Two. using up extra time. Ehrenreich explains how “the point” of the housecleaning service where she is employed “is not so much to clean as to create the appearance of having been cleaned. All throughout the book. they want your entire life). only in the few places she applies. thus hurting the company. her hectic. 9. he is a nineteen-year-old Czech dishwasher who has been in the country for a week. He may want his workers to feel small. and he says “Yes. Usually. what model car they drive. she is treated poorly. and how big of a table they gorge at. 10. which would hurt her case for selfish. For some reason. she beats around the bush of her own question. letting his “agent” take every penny over $5 an hour. 8. Not once does she talk about the courtesy of an employer. energy.” When and where else. Ehrenreich’s heart cares for the needy people in her environment (ex. throughout the book. 1989” but I will note that this book was being written only a decade later. but remarks. and money. monotonous life at work had begun to change her very life (In the book she tells of how employers do not care as much for the hours your work. the cleaners are instructed to divert from removing microbes. At Merry Maids she listens to an employer complain for 75 minutes about finding reliable help and “warning” her to not calculate weekly pay into hours. in a month or two I might have turned into a different person altogether—say. “Maybe. “The hands-and-knees approach is a definite selling point for corporate cleaning services like The . In view of all these suggestions. He may not need to be professional. Holly when working for the maids. as Ehrenreich strives to prove. yes. not two. if not all times when Ehrenreich goes for an interview or a new job. professional courtesy and respect is not prevalent. the employer’s goal is to give the customer what they want in the quickest amount of time to improve productivity between houses and upkeep finances. Their lives revolve around their reputation.” (pg 41) Her job at Jerry’s had changed her. jumpstarting many conversations. This happens when she interviews for Wal-Mart and Merry Maids. how current readers might comprehend this). This is because the low-wage employers she encounters wants their applicants to feel needy or generally lower class. I might have regained my crusading spirit. Ehrenreich fails to provide any reliable evidence to this language being actually prevalent. Ultimately.
etc…). invisible and even disgusting” (pg 117). The text speaks for itself. doing much less manual labor than the maids (scrubbing on their hands and knees. 13.S. Buying groceries with a voucher at a Shop-n-Save in Maine. but she was looking the other way at nothing in particular. This might be the start of Ehrenreich noticing disrespect from other people from being a maid. but the waitress just kept standing there chatting with a coworker. who are $6-an-hour gals themselves. if not spat on.’ she said. ‘We’re just maids. but stared off somewhere other than where she needed to be looking. Ehrenreich informs that the convenience store clerks make $6-an-hour. economy dying) the wealthy like to know that their money is being put to good use. Looking back on Chapter Two as a whole. At one place where we stopped for refreshments. Holly believes that homeowners “think [she is] stupid. I used to stop on my way home from work. I tried to order iced tea to take out. just as many people see minorities. Why does it seem to. you’re good!’ Work is supposed to save you from being an ‘outcast. that the maids doing their work are not being dignified. Explain why this “old-fashioned way” of housecleaning is thus appealing. The maids believed they were seen as lower than humans. after I vacuum ten rooms and still have time to scrub a kitchen floor. “gratify the consumers of maid services”? “It is the primal posture of submission…that seems to gratify the consumers of maid services. what connections would you make between maids and minorities in the United States? What about between maids and poverty. Who is Budgie? Why does Ehrenreich tell us to let Budgie “be a stand-in”? Also. No wonder she’s poor.” Minorities in the U. “No one is going to say. Barb.’ as Pete puts it. ignoring my ‘Excuse me’s. but are being lowered to an “old-fashioned way” of labor.” the author writes. as they would be if they used a mop. her customer (or guest). but I couldn’t take the stares.” What might such body language mean? Why.” It is quite obvious that in a world of fear (of thievery. are looked down upon like this.Maids. The “primal posture of submission” (pg 84) is exactly what people want to see. is it telling? The body language given from the cashier implied that she did not think to notice Ehrenreich. “‘We’re nothing to these people. if at all. Even convenience store clerks. 11. and maids and “invisibility”? Refer to the text itself when making your links. Ehrenreich notes of the checkout woman ringing up her purchases: “I attempt to thank her.’ Then there’s the supermarket. ‘Goddamn. Maids “are not visible” (pg 99). an actual diner with a counter. 12. as Ehrenreich puts it. and shoved away. “But a maids’ uniform has the opposite effect. seem to look down on us. the stock market crashing. would it be accurate to say that the author’s efforts to find a safe and affordable place to live were least . swept under the rug. I don’t look so good…but it’s the brilliant green-and-yellow uniform that gives me away. They think [she has] nothing better to do with [her] time” (pg 100). but what we do is an outcast’s work.’ Nor are we much of anything to anyone else. like prison clothes on a fugitive… I’m getting a tiny glimpse of what it would be like to be black” (pg 100). which easily are translatable into: What are you doing here? And. she’s got a beer in her shopping cart! True.
but she could not afford it. Florida was rumored to have low rents so she traveled down south. Her story begins in New Jersey with a lousy husband and her children. her poverty remained. including. as she herself readily admits. “apartment belonging to friends of a friend” for “free of charge” while the tenants visited “relatives back East. Although. Budgie wants to be out of his cage. “who. The author’s efforts were least successful in Minnesota. he wants to sit on my head and worry my hair and my glasses frame” (pg 130). When Ehrenreich arrived in Minnesota. Well.” Yes. blurry vision. but will refuse to underestimate the daunting task. The bird is active. in real life. itching privates. she made it with children as well with many bumps on the way. Caroline not only survived. She arrived in Orlando with $1. Caroline went through many physical hardships as her life progressed: constant thirst. pecking. hopping around on Ehrenreich’s hair.” Ehrenreich remarked. Now. breaking one of her initial rules. While at Wal-Mart. [plopped] herself down in a totally strange environment—without housing. She moved in with her mother in Queens but could not make it to work while taking her child to daycare. she even started reminiscing about starting a union. a desire he makes known by squawking or. 14. “bouts of homelessness and a lot more interstate travel by Greyhound with children. “When I am home. typically incompatible relatives and long waits for the bathroom. Budgie is to be a stand-in for the “intrusive in-laws and noisy housemates that a person of limited means crashing with distant family in a strange city might normally expect to endure” (pg 123). As her stint at Wal-Mart winds down. not entirely free of charge. and grooming. Paraphrase the brief “story within a story” represented by the character called Caroline. what is far worse.600 on a mission to find a low priced hotel and a church. and lack of money for rent. She could have taken a job for higher pay. She admits that if she could have afforded to live in Minnesota longer. 15. or [a] job [and attempted] to become a viable resident” in Florida (pg131). a caged bird that. probably because she chose the lower paying job. the author mentions to several of her colleagues that they “could use a Union here”–only. family connections. Budgie is a “cockatiel. has to be let out of the cage for a few hours a day” (pg 122). for reasons of ornithological fitness and sanity. but did not choose it.” Ehrenreich finds this person in the effort to see someone who has done what she has tried to do. What is Caroline’s tale? Why does Ehrenreich get in touch with this person. she could stay at an. Ehrenreich knows this task is possible. she could have stayed at Wal-Mart another year and received her pay raise (pg 194). she is “not a union organizer . and what does she learn from her? Caroline was someone. Her brother moved in to the already small apartment and things became too crammed. by pacing dementedly. but with little time to spend with her children. she managed to find a new husband. When he is out of his cage.successful in Minnesota? Explain why or why not. Caroline soon got a job cleaning hotels. Ehrenreich learned from her “coworkers in Maine—several of whom had spent time in tightly shared space—people who depend on the generosity of other for their lodging always have something untoward to put up with.
I’ve personally cleaned rooms like maids and “wielded” the horrifying vacuum cleaner. honestly. biting.” In her view. Ehrenreich’s constant.” This is complete junk. is she making efforts at unionizing? What has led her to these efforts? What are her reasons. Someone has to puncture the prevailing fiction that we’re a ‘family’ here. motivations. Wal-Mart would rather keep hiring new people than treating the ones it has decently. we ‘associates’ and our ‘servant leaders. Ehrenreich backed Marlene’s idea up. “They talk about having spirit. WalMart’s employees are suffering.’” So why. It’s life.anymore than [she is] Wal-Mart ‘management material. At the outset of her Evaluation chapter. Skilled labor has always been referred to (or in most cases) as someone who is particularly skilled at his or her job.’ Every one of the six jobs [she] entered into in the course of [the] project required concentration. no matter how lowly. then. usually coming from some sort of lengthy education or apprenticeship. It’s work. new tools. and thrown away countless half-empty alcoholic beverages whose contents seep out of their containers like long pieces of chewed gum.” Explain this new understanding. and in what seems like a pretty harmless way.” Marlene said. Describe the problems that Ehrenreich has with how the “poverty level” is calculated in this . pinching complaining is uncalled for (except for the fact that. health insurance isn’t worth paying for. Yes. Do you agree with it? Why or why not? “The first thing [she] discovered is that no job. “It’s not just about money. it’s about dignity” (pg 184). 16. 17. grievances. No one compliments you on how fast you are.’ held together solely by our commitment to the ‘guests’” (pg 185). managers are brutal. All this to say. cleaned “shit”. I am unskilled. The author’s goals are to abolish these fictions. and countless other’s personal testimonies. “but they don’t give us any reason to have any spirit. They are being treated verbally as if they were a “family” and had “servant leaders” worker over them. and the pay is abysmal. and goals? Ehrenreich knows that her coworkers need a voice. she does have a solid 40 years on me). the author seems to arrive at a new understanding of the phrase “unskilled labor. and most demanded that [she] master new terms. Sunday’s are not optional. but reality is that no one gets paid overtime. and Marlene desperately needs a car. She’s motivated by Marlene. and new skills—from placing orders on restaurant computers to wielding the backpack vacuum cleaner. is truly ‘unskilled. Stan dropped out of school to keep his job. “The truth…is that I’m just amusing myself. Her grievances are shared by all and her reasons are for the betterment of her coworkers. I’ve worked construction. Stan.
“major factor preventing workers from optimizing their earnings. a person who in addition possesses a working car.” With this taboo. and to the author’s assertion that our “wages are too low and rents too high. The cycle does not only end here. 18. illness. Also. at the close of her book.” Twin Cities job market analyst Kristine Jacobs pinpoints. in your view? Explain. The official poverty level is calculated by taking the cost of food for a family of a given size and multiplying the number by three. the Target down the road is paying better than the Wal-Mart. Ehrenreich also points out that. when a single person in good heath. even if you have a sister-in-law working there” (pg 207). to everyone else” (pg 221). because. Why does Ehrenreich refer to low-wage workers. What is the “money taboo”–and why and how does it function. food only accounted for 16 percent of the budget while housing had soared up to 37 percent. very wrong. “when the rich and the poor compete for housing on the open market. In 39 years. their most certainly is a disconnect. they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect. how does one’s understanding of the poverty level–Ehrenreich’s or anyone else’s–relate to food costs. Low-wage workers at sweatshops are the philanthropists to the low-wage workers here in the states. $7 or even $10 an hour can feel like a mark of innate inferiority. crime. as Ehrenreich puts it. “most effectively among the lowest-paid people”? Money taboo is a. not 33 percent. It is why “you may or may not find out that.” And that might be the sole reason why rents remain high for low-wage workers: their money is not reliable. Ehrenreich suspects that this.country. “There’s a code of silence surrounding issues related to individuals’ earnings… We confess everything else in our society—sex. the world. the poor don’t stand a chance. But no one wants to reveal what they earn or how they got it” (pg 206). When this method was created in the 1960s. in a society that endlessly celebrates its dot-com billionaires and centimillionaire athletes. food only accounted for 24 percent of the family budget. say. Is she correct on this score. nearly everything is learned by word of mouth. . a nameless benefactor.” Ehrenreich points out that there is a disconnect between the housing of the poor and poverty. “Something is wrong. they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. can barely support herself by the sweat of her brow” (pg 199). In the author’s present day. rent raised a total of 8 percent on average and food dropped 8 percent. The method devised many years ago was supposed to be implemented to calculate poverty when it would detect it right. In Ehrenreich’s convincing view. 19. Low-wage workers around the world are what make the world. as “the major philanthropists of our society”? Ehrenreich’s point is that a low-wage worker goes hungry so that someone “can eat more cheaply and conveniently—then she has made a great sacrifice… They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for. “‘taboo’ operates most effectively among the lowest-paid people. Ehrenreich argues that food is relatively inflation proof compared to rents. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?