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